By Jay Bobbin Zap2it
"SPECTRE": The gigantic success of "Skyfall'' is a hard act to follow, but Daniel Craig attempts it in his fourth James Bond movie, which revives certain aspects not used in the series in quite some time. With the fate of the MI6 spy program uncertain, Agent 007 goes rogue to track the leader (Christoph Waltz) of an international crime organization across Europe, uncovering surprising links to his own past in the process. After a highly impressive opening set in -- and above -- Mexico City's Day of the Dead parade, Lea Seydoux and (briefly) Monica Bellucci appear as the hero's romantic interests, with Dave Bautista as the chief villain's brutal henchman. Director Sam Mendes returns, as do Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris as the new M, Q and Moneypenny. Jesper Christensen also is back from Craig's first two Bond capers as enemy Mr. White. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Love the Coopers": Family dysfunction at holiday time isn't a new theme, and this attempted comedy has little success in freshening it up, despite its notable cast. Diane Keaton and John Goodman play the heads of the Cooper clan, who are on the verge of separating as other relatives return home to celebrate the season ... but each of them has his or her own problems. Other featured Oscar winners besides Keaton are Alan Arkin and Marisa Tomei; Ed Helms, Olivia Wilde, Anthony Mackie and Amanda Seyfried also appear -- and if the narrator (yes, the tale thinks it needs a narrator) sounds familiar, it's Keaton's "husband'' from the "Father of the Bride'' movies, Steve Martin. ** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Crimson Peak": There's an air of such classic stories as "Jane Eyre'' and "Rebecca'' to director and co-writer Guillermo Del Toro's eerie melodrama, casting Mia Wasikowska ("Alice in Wonderland'') as a would-be author who ignores warnings from her mother's ghost to stay away from the bizarre title site. Tom Hiddleston plays the Englishman who owns it, with Jessica Chastain as his sister, who strongly frowns upon the couple's eventual marriage. The more the aspiring author explores the house, the more she finds out that she wishes she hadn't. "Sons of Anarchy'' alum Charlie Hunnam, who also worked for the filmmaker in "Pacific Rim,'' and Leslie Hope ("24'') also are featured. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Del Toro; deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Grandma": Early in her career, Lily Tomlin surprised many people with the depth of her performance in Robert Altman's "Nashville,'' and she proves she still can deliver the movie goods in director Paul Weitz's seriocomic tale of the title character's very eventful day. After the woman ends a romantic relationship, she tries to help her granddaughter (Julia Garner) get needed money before the day ends, a quest that puts them back in the company of some people thought to have been left behind. The fine cast also includes Marcia Gay Harden, Sam Elliott, Laverne Cox ("Orange Is the New Black'') and Judy Greer. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentary; audio commentary by Tomlin, Elliott, Garner and Weitz; Q&A with Tomlin, Elliott and Weitz. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this week:
"The Leftovers: The Complete Second Season": The sophomore round of the HBO drama series, based on Tom Perrotta's book, moves the saga ahead three years ... and moves some of the characters who didn't disappear in the so-called "Departure'' to a Texas town ironically named Miracle. Even if life seems on more of an even keel there, memories of what happened before still have an impact on what happens going forward. Returning cast members include Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Liv Tyler, Carrie Coon ("Gone Girl''), Christopher Eccleston and Janel Moloney ("The West Wing''); newcomers include Regina King ("American Crime'') and Darius McCrary. The show will have a third season that also will be its last. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Touched by an Angel: The Complete Series'': If it seemed at the time that Roma Downey was very invested in the role of Monica, the novice angel who sometimes stumbles while trying to help others change their lives for the better, it's now apparent just how accurate that was ... since Downey since has become (along with husband Mark Burnett) a producer of such faith-based projects as "The Bible'' and "The Dovekeepers.'' The much more experienced Tess (Della Reese) is Monica's counsel; John Dye and Valerie Bertinelli joined the cast as the CBS show went along. A parade of notable guest stars is featured, from Mandy Patinkin and Maya Angelou to Celine Dion and Muhammad Ali (the latter two appearing as themselves). *** (Not rated: AS)
"Black Mass" (Feb. 16): Johnny Depp stars as Boston-mob figure James "Whitey'' Bulger, an informant for an FBI agent and childhood friend (Joel Edgerton). (R: AS, P, GV)
"Steve Jobs" (Feb. 16): Michael Fassbender portrays the Apple co-founder and CEO in director Danny Boyle and writer Aaron Sorkin's drama. (R: AS, P)
"Fargo: Year Two": (Feb. 23): A young couple (Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons) is caught up in larceny in the FX series' sophomore round; Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson also star. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"The Night Before" (March 1): Three pals (Seth Rogen, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anthony Mackie) seek the biggest party they can find on Christmas Eve. (R: AS, N, P)
"Childhood's End" (March 1): The Arthur C. Clarke story puts Earth under the control of seemingly peaceful aliens; Mike Vogel, Daisy Betts and Charles Dance star. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Macbeth" (March 8): Michael Fassbender portrays Shakespeare's legendary character in this latest of the play's screen adaptations; Marion Cotillard plays Lady Macbeth. (R: AS, V)
"Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series" (March 22): The cult-classic show, about a Detroit high school circa 1980, makes its Blu-ray debut and features Seth Rogen and James Franco. (Not rated: AS, P)
TOP 10 DVD RENTALS
(Week ending January 31, 2016, courtesy of Rentrak Corp.)
2) "Hotel Transylvania 2"
3) "Ted 2"
5) "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials"
7) "Fantastic Four"
8) "Hitman: Agent 47"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.