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.)
"Zootopia": The familiar trappings of many detective stories get a clever and enjoyable change-up as approached by the animal characters in this animated Disney feature. A rabbit police officer and a fox con artist (voices of Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman) set out to find an otter's missing husband, taking them into the underworld and leading to problems with bigwigs in politics and the police department. Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Oscar winners J.K. Simmons and Octavia Spencer, music star Shakira, Tommy Chong, Kristen Bell and Josh Dallas (Goodwin's husband and ``Once Upon a Time'' colleague) also are in the large voice cast. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi": Directed by action specialist Michael Bay ("Transformers,'' "Armageddon''), this true drama incorporates expectedly visceral sequences as it recalls the 2012 diplomatic-compound attack that has remained controversial on the political front ever since. The story told here -- taken from fact as well as from a nonfiction best seller -- focuses on the immediate, on-site response to the incident, which saw a handful of military veterans try to protect those who were under assault. Cast members include John Krasinski ("The Office''), James Badge Dale ("24''), Pablo Schreiber ("Orange Is the New Black''), Max Martini, Matt Letscher and Toby Stephens ("Black Sails''). *** (R: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Hail Caesar!": Filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen strike again with this fun comedy about 1950s Hollywood, and they bring along George Clooney, who first worked with them early in his movie stardom. He plays -- it just so happens -- a movie star who's working on a saga of ancient Rome when he's kidnapped, sending a professional "fixer'' (Josh Brolin) to find him and save the production. The troubleshooter also has to deal with a number of other Tinseltown types, some of them played by Scarlett Johansson, Channing Tatum and Ralph Fiennes ... and sibling-rival gossip columnists are both played by Tilda Swinton (who won an Oscar opposite Clooney in "Michael Clayton''). Another Academy Award winner and Coen-brothers alum, Frances McDormand ("Fargo''), and Jonah Hill also are featured. DVD extras: four "making-of'' documentaries. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Anomalisa": Though it's animated, this Oscar-nominated tale is guaranteed to be unlike most "cartoons'' you've seen, thanks largely to the script by co-director Charlie Kaufman ("Being John Malkovich''). During an out-of-town trip to address a professional conference, an author and family man (voice of David Thewlis) has an epiphany -- involving a stranger he meets -- that forces him to re-evaluate his life. While Jennifer Jason Leigh also lends vocals, Tom Noonan ("Hell on Wheels'') voices every other character in the story. The distinctive music score is by Carter Burwell. *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also releasing this week:
"The Shannara Chronicles: Season One": Terry Brooks' novels come to life in this series, which marked MTV's entry into the realm of fantasy shows that are very heavy on special effects. Alfred Gough and Miles Millar ("Smallville,'' "Into the Badlands'') are among the executive producers, as is Brooks, of the saga about three young would-be heroes (Poppy Drayton, Austin Butler, Ivana Baquero) who try to save their world from a potential onslaught by a sinister army. Screen veteran John Rhys-Davies ("Raiders of the Lost Ark'') plays the land's king, and the saga doesn't stop here: MTV is giving the program a second season. DVD extras: four "making-of'' documentaries; interview with Brooks. *** (Not rated: AS, V)
"Vinyl: The Complete First Season": A series about music can't get much more cred than having Mick Jagger as one of its creators and executive producers -- along with Martin Scorsese -- and this HBO drama does. Set during the 1970s, when disco and punk rose to great heights, it casts Bobby Cannavale ("Boardwalk Empire'') as a record-industry mogul whose label is in danger of going under. The situation prompts him to make moves that are inadvisable, to put it mildly, in a number of cases. Cast members also include Olivia Wilde, Ray Romano, Paul Ben-Victor, P.J. Byrne, J.C. MacKenzie (``Murder One'') and Max Casella ("Doogie Howser, M.D.'') ... and the show will return for a second season. DVD extras: "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentaries by cast and crew members. *** (Not rated: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Roots: The Complete Original Series": 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)
"Eddie the Eagle" (June 14): Taron Egerton plays the title role in the true story of an Olympic ski-jumping hopeful; Hugh Jackman also stars. (PG-13: AS)
"London Has Fallen" (June 14): The U.S. president and his Secret Service man (Aaron Eckhart, Gerard Butler) are among terrorists' targets in the ``Olympus Has Fallen'' sequel. (R: AS, P, 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)
"The X-Files: The Event Series" (June 14): Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson) reunite to probe more cases of the supernatural in this six-episode continuation of the original show. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"10 Cloverfield Lane" (June 14): Sort of a prequel to ``Cloverfield,'' this melodrama casts Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a car-accident victim who becomes a prisoner of a survivalist (John Goodman). (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Kung Fu Panda 3'' (June 28): Po (voice of Jack Black) reunites with his father (voice of Bryan Cranston), but faces a new threat. (PG: AS, V)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending May 22, 2016, courtesy of comScore)
1) "The Revenant"
2) "5th Wave"
3) "Dirty Grandpa"
5) "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens"
6) "Daddy's Home"
7) "Point Break"
8) "The Witch"
9) "The Point"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence