New to DVD and On Demand Releases for February 25 - March 3

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25 February 2018
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.)

Releasing this Week:
Murder on the Orient Express"Murder on the Orient Express": One of Agatha Christie's most famous mysteries gets fresh and reasonably successful screen treatment in two ways from Kenneth Branagh -- as both star, playing master detective Hercule Poirot, and director -- in this visually striking version that takes full advantage of a snowbound setting. A fellow passenger on the luxury train (Johnny Depp), a businessman who fears for his life, seeks the sleuth's help ... but soon afterward, there's reason to interrogate many of the others on board. Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Josh Gad, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley ("Star Wars: The Last Jedi'') and Tony Award winner Leslie Odom Jr. ("Hamilton'') also are in the all-star cast. The lush look of the movie reflects that it's one of very few to have been shot on 65mm film in recent times. DVD extras: theatrical trailers; six "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Branagh and screenwriter Michael Green; deleted scenes; photo gallery. *** (PG-13: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri": Writer-director Martin McDonagh's much-praised drama, which performed very notably at this year's Golden Globe Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards and now has seven Oscar nominations, casts Frances McDormand ("Fargo'') as a woman who takes an unusual step to goad the local police into solving her teenage daughter's murder. She has the title billboards painted on the edge of the city, with their related messages heightening tensions among the residents -- certainly including the local police chief (Woody Harrelson), who also is dealing with a personal crisis, as well as an officer (Sam Rockwell) who becomes deeply immersed in the matter. John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, Abbie Cornish and Zeljko Ivanek ("Madam Secretary'') also appear. **** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Darkest Hour"Darkest Hour": Gary Oldman's sterling portrayal of Winston Churchill has earned director Joe Wright's excellent drama one of its six current Oscar nominations, also encompassing a bid for best picture. Anthony McCarten's script goes back to the start of Churchill's tenure as England's prime minister, when other nations considered surrendering to Adolf Hitler -- but Churchill refused to give in, threatening a war stance instead and generating skepticism from some very influential countrymen. The cast also includes Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James and Ben Mendelsohn, but there's simply no question that this is Oldman's picture. DVD extras: audio commentary by Wright; two "making-of'' documentaries. **** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Also Releasing this Week:

Coco"Coco": The Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead has gotten its share of movie attention in recent times -- from the James Bond caper "Spectre,'' and also from this animated Disney-Pixar tale, a current Oscar nominee for best animated feature that follows a young would-be musician (voice of Anthony Gonzalez) on a quest to learn about his forerunners. His most specific interest is in a legendary actor and singer (voice of Benjamin Bratt) whom he believes to be a familial ancestor of his, but the truth turns out to be troublesome -- especially where it concerns a former colleague of the icon (voice of Gael Garcia Bernal), who needs the youngster's help. Clearly, the film has a big cultural education to offer along with the Disney-Pixar cartoon traditions, and it delivers that well. The voice cast also features Edward James Olmos, Jaime Camil ("Jane the Virgin''), Gabriel Iglesias and Cheech Marin. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Just Getting Started"Just Getting Started": Two Oscar-winning acting veterans -- Morgan Freeman and Tommy Lee Jones -- are better than the material they're given here, but there's still fun to be had in watching them play off each other in this comedy from sports-movie veteran Ron Shelton ("Bull Durham,'' "White Men Can't Jump''). Freeman portrays a retirement-community resident who's pretty much the king of the place, until he gets a rival in a newcomer (Jones) who later becomes an ally. To say much more about their characters would give away what modest surprises the story has. Also in the cast are Rene Russo, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Joe Pantoliano, Elizabeth Ashley and -- in one of her final movies -- the late Glenne Headly. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
MacGyver: Season 1"MacGyver: Season 1": With Henry Winkler still listed among its executive producers, the current CBS reboot of the adventure series is keeping the title character extremely inventive in using the most common of items -- think "toothpick'' -- to defuse, sometimes quite literally, problematic situations. Lucas Till plays the ever-resourceful MacGyver, who works for the Phoenix Foundation in solving big problems both domestically and internationally. "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation'' alum George Eads also stars as his comrade Jack Dalton, with Tristin Mays, Justin Hires and Sandrine Holt as other cast regulars as the show begins -- but before this first season ends, there's a big twist involving one of the main characters. Notable guest stars include Tracy Spiridakos ("Chicago P.D.'') and Amy Acker ("Person of Interest''). *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

Upcoming Releases:

"Thor: Rangnarok" (March 6): The Norse god (Chris Hemsworth) has family problems and a showdown with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) as he tries to save his home world. (PG-13: V)
"Planet Earth: Blue Planet II" (March 6): In the documentary sequel, Sir David Attenborough offers a journey across -- and within -- the planet's oceans. (Not rated)
"Wonder Wheel" (March 6): Woody Allen's drama casts Kate Winslet as an unfulfilled 1950s wife who gets involved with a younger man (Justin Timberlake). (PG-13: AS, P)
"The Handmaid's Tale: Season One" (March 13): The acclaimed Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood's novel stars Elisabeth Moss as an oppressed member of a future society. (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
"Justice League" (March 13): In the absence of Superman (Henry Cavill), Batman and Wonder Woman (Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot) lead other superheroes in battling evil and protecting Earth. (PG-13: V)
"The Good Fight: Season One" (March 13): In the sequel series to "The Good Wife,'' the disgraced, financially strapped Diane Lockhart (Christine Baranski) joins another law firm. (Not rated: AS, P)
"Major Crimes: The Complete Sixth and Final Season" (March 13): Switching to a more serialized format for its concluding round, the "Closer'' spinoff stars Mary McDonnell. (Not rated: AS, P, V)

Oldies But Goodies:

"Colossus: The Forbin Project" (1970): This sci-fi drama, about a super-computer that links dangerously to a Russian counterpart, makes its Blu-ray debut; Eric Braeden and Susan Clark star. ***
"Lady and the Tramp": One of the most famous spaghetti-eating scenes ever is a highlight of this animated Disney classic -- now in a "Signature Collection'' edition -- about amorous canines. *** (Also on Blu-ray)
"Murder on the Orient Express" (1974): As sleuth Hercule Poirot, Albert Finney leads an all-star cast also including Sean Connery, Vanessa Redgrave and Oscar winner Ingrid Bergman. ****

TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending February 11, 2018, Courtesy of 

1)   "A Bad Moms Christmas"
2)   "Geostorm"
3)   "Tyler Perry's Boo 2! A Madea Halloween"
4)   "Blade Runner 2049" 
5)   "It"   
6)   "Only the Brave"  
7)   "AmericanMade"
8)   "Jigsaw"
9)   "The Foreigner"    
10)   "Despicable Me 3"

FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence

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