By Jay Bobbin Zap2it
(Ratings for each film begin with a "star'' rating -- one star meaning "poor,'' four meaning "excellent'' -- followed by the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and then by a family-viewing guide, the key for which appears below.)
"Ride Along 2": Kevin Hart and Ice Cube reunite in this action-comedy sequel as their characters -- an Atlanta police detective and his future brother-in-law -- team with a Miami cop (Olivia Munn, "The Newsroom'') against a drug kingpin (Benjamin Bratt). Not surprisingly, the movie hews very closely to the style of its surprise-hit forerunner, particularly since director Tim Story also returns. Tika Sumpter is back as Hart's bride-to-be, and the cast also includes Ken Jeong, Sherri Shepherd and (reprising his police-boss role) Bruce McGill. DVD extras: four "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Story; deleted scenes; outtakes. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Krampus": A definite twist on the traditional sort of holiday-season story, this dark-humored thriller makes a good case for not letting a youngster down at that time of year. The child in question (played by Emjay Anthony) conjures up a Christmas demon who's basically the anti-Santa, doling out punishments to the naughty. Adults should be careful about letting the kids near this, since it's precisely what yuletide nightmares are made of. Toni Collette, Adam Scott, David Koechner, Allison Tolman ("Fargo'') and Conchata Ferrell also star. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; audio commentary by director and co-writer Michael Dougherty and co-writers Todd Casey and Zach Shields; deleted and extended scenes; alternate ending; outtakes; galleries. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Son of Saul": A major success on the film-honors circuit -- winning an Oscar, a Golden Globe and an Independent Spirit Award, and also feted at last year's Cannes Film Festival -- this drama traces the World War II experiences of a Jewish prisoner of the Nazis (portrayed by Geza Rohrig), who make him a worker for them. He discovers the body of a youngster who may be his son, then tries -- against the complicated, ever-shifting circumstances of the war -- to ensure the boy a proper funeral. DVD extras: audio commentary by Rohrig, director Laszlo Nemes and cinematographer Matyas Erdely; deleted scene; interview session at the Museum of Tolerance. **** (R: AS, N, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Jane Got A Gun": Natalie Portman rarely has been one to resist tackling something different, and she certainly does in this revisionist Western, playing the title character who gets a reason to become proficient with firearms. When her family is victimized by a vicious gang leader (Ewan McGregor, Portman's former "Star Wars''-franchise cohort) and his followers, Jane hesitantly seeks assistance from a man with a very personal connection to her past (Joel Edgerton). Noah Emmerich ("The Americans'') and Rodrigo Santoro also star in the film, which had its share of behind-the-scenes drama, since its original director departed just before filming was to begin. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this week:
"The DePatie/Freleng Collection: The Inspector": Producer David DePatie and producer-director Friz Freleng were veterans of making classic Warner Bros. cartoons who teamed to launch their own animation company, with one of their biggest successes spun off from the memorable opening titles they devised for the original "Pink Panther'' movie. As the title here implies, the character clearly is inspired by the clueless Inspector Clouseau, though he's never specified by name as being the animated version of Peter Sellers' alter ego. This is one of several new Blu-ray releases of DePatie-Freleng ventures, the others being "The Ant and the Aardvark'' and "Crazylegs Crane.'' *** (Not rated)
"The Driftless Area": Zooey Deschanel has spent most of her recent years being "adorkable'' on television's "New Girl,'' but this melodrama -- co-written by Tom Drury, the author of the novel it's based on --serves as a reminder of what else she can do. She plays a woman who gets involved with a hometown returnee (Anton Yelchin), and in turn, he finds himself entangled with a criminal (John Hawkes) she also has ties to. Aubrey Plaza, Frank Langella, Alia Shawkat and Ciaran Hinds also are in the impressive cast. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on On Demand)
"The 5th Wave" (May 3): Though aliens continue to unleash attacks on Earth, a young fugitive (Chloe Grace Moretz) is determined to save her brother. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Joy" (May 3): Jennifer Lawrence plays Miracle Mop inventor and marketer Joy Mangano in director David O. Russell's comedy-drama, also reuniting the actress with Robert De Niro and Bradley Cooper. (PG-13: AS, P)
"Lou Grant: The Complete First Season" (May 3): Edward Asner carried his "Mary Tyler Moore Show'' character into this drama series, which made Grant a Los Angeles newspaper editor. (Not rated: AS, P)
"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (May 31): The classic story gets a major revision involving -- you guessed it -- the undead; Lily James and Sam Riley star. (PG-13: AS, V)
"Anomalisa" (June 7): The animated Oscar nominee focuses on an author (voice of David Thewlis) who gains a renewed appreciation of his life and family. (R: AS, N, P)
"Roots: The Complete Original Series" (June 7): The milestone television drama about Alex Haley's search for his ancestors makes its Blu-ray debut; stars include LeVar Burton and Louis Gossett Jr. (Not rated: AS, V)
"45 Years" (June 14): Recent Oscar nominee Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay play a couple upset by news on a milestone wedding anniversary. (R: AS, P)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentala
(Week ending April 11, 2016, courtesy of Rentrak Corp.)
1) "Daddy's Home"
2) "The Hateful Eight"
3) "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2"
6) "The Good Dinosaur"
7) "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens"
8) "In the Heart of the Sea"
9) "The Big Short"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence