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.)
"The Jungle Book": Definitely not your parents' -- nor your grandparents' -- movie version of the classic Rudyard Kipling story, this Disney-made, Jon Favreau-directed revision creates a remarkable environment from computer-generated visuals executed entirely within a Los Angeles studio, though you absolutely can't tell. Neel Sethi plays Mowgli, the wolf-raised youngster interacting with talking animals -- who have the voices of Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Ben Kingsley, Lupita Nyong'o, Christopher Walken and the late Garry Shandling -- while focusing a threat from the sinister Shere Khan (voice of Idris Elba). Though musical numbers held over from the animated 1960s edition seem a bit out of place in this treatment, there's no lasting harm to what truly is a magical piece of entertainment. *** (PG: V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Night Manager": Currently nominated for seven Emmy Awards including outstanding limited series, this AMC-televised version of the John Le Carre novel also earned acting bids for stars Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie. Hiddleston has the title role of an ex-soldier who fears he may have learned too much from his new romantic interest, who has close ties to a mobster (Laurie) ... and her murder doesn't allay his fears. Later, British Intelligence enlists the vengeance-hungry hotel manager to help get the goods on the criminal. Olivia Colman also is an Emmy nominee among co-stars who include Elizabeth Debicki, David Harewood ("Supergirl''), Tom Hollander and Tobias Menzies. (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Me Before You": Hugely popular among "Game of Thrones'' fans, Emilia Clarke shines in a contemporary role in this drama adapted by Jojo Moyes from her book. Clarke plays a novice caregiver who breaks through the strong resistance of her new charge, a bitter accident victim (Sam Claflin) who refuses to accept the life he knew is in the past. Unlike others, she refuses to enable his behavior ... and though you can guess what happens next, the actors perform it sincerely and affectingly. Co-stars include Charles Dance, Brendan Coyle ("Downton Abbey'') and Jenna Coleman ("Doctor Who''). DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; deleted scenes; outtakes. *** (PG-13: AS, P)
Also releasing this week:
"Limitless: Season One": Despite that home-video title, this actually is the complete series (since it's not getting a Season 2) of the CBS spinoff of the 2011 Bradley Cooper movie, revolving around a drug that lets its user tap into his or her brainpower fully. Here, that person is Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), whose suddenly heightened abilities are of keen interest to FBI agents (Jennifer Carpenter, Hill Harper, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Cooper is an executive producer here and reprises his movie role in several episodes as Edward Morra, now a U.S. senator with designs on the presidency -- with intended boosts from the drug. Ron Rifkin, who worked with Cooper on "Alias,'' and Blair Brown play Brian's parents. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Blunt Talk: The First Complete Season": Though his best-known images arguably remains those of the "Star Trek'' franchise's Captain Jean-Luc Picard and "X-Men's'' Professor Charles Xavier, Patrick Stewart can be wickedly funny, as the British veteran of stage and screen demonstrates amply in this Starz comedy series about a cable-news host well-known for his forceful opinions on how people should live their lives. (Echoes of any real-life personality are purely coincidental. Not.) Jacki Weaver ("Silver Linings Playbook'') also stars as the perpetually controversial Walter Blunt's constantly challenged manager in the show executive-produced by Seth MacFarlane. Guest stars include Elisabeth Shue, Jason Schwartzman and Ed Begley Jr. DVD extras: audio commentaries by creator Jonathan Ames. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
"CriminalMinds: The Eleventh Season": A cast departure that no one saw coming -- or, at least, that virtually no one expected -- is a major element of this year of the CBS crime drama. Though Aisha Tyler is present for much of the season as a forensic anthropologist working with the BAU team, a permanent position is left vacated -- and the agents also get help from former co-worker Emily Prentiss, with Paget Brewster returning for an episode in the role (as she will multiple times in the show's upcoming round). Series stars Joe Mantegna, Thomas Gibson and Matthew Gray Gubler got to double as directors again on certain stories, and Kirsten Vangsness (alias the show's Garcia) co-wrote the pivotal tale that encompasses the aforementioned exit. A.J. Cook also stars. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"All the Way" (Sept. 6): Bryan Cranston reprises his Tony-winning stage performance in the drama about President Lyndon B. Johnson's first year in office. (Not rated: AS, P)
"Money Monster" (Sept. 6): A televised financial adviser (George Clooney) is held captive by a vengeful investor (Jack O'Connell); Julia Roberts also stars. (R: AS, P, V)
"Now You See Me 2" (Sept. 6): The magicians known as the Four Horsemen are coerced into helping a corrupt tech wizard (Daniel Radcliffe); Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson return. (PG-13: P, V)
"Captain America: Civil War" (Sept. 13): Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) lead opposing factions of Marvel superheroes. (PG-13: P, V)
"Free State of Jones" (Sept. 20): A fugitive (Mathew McConaughey) from the Confederate Army returns to Mississippi and forms his own force in a secession bid. (R: AS, V)
"Miami Vice: The Complete Series" (Oct. 4): Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas star as detective partners Crockett and Tubbs in the Blu-ray debut of the trendsetting drama. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending August 14, 2016, Courtesy of comScore)
2) "Mother's Day"
3) "London has Fallen"
4) "Kung Fu Panda 3"
5) "Meet the Blacks"
7) "The Divergent Series: Allegiant"
8) "Miracles from Heaven"
9) "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence