New to DVD and On Demand Releases for March 15 - 21
Releasing this week:
"Annie": It's still a hard-knock life for the orphaned character in this revision of the hit musical inspired by the classic comic strip. Quvenzhane Wallis ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") has the title role, with Jamie Foxx as this version's Daddy Warbucks, a cellular tycoon named "Will Stacks'' ... but there's a sinister Miss Hannigan that remains on board, played this time by Cameron Diaz. The score also is intact, including such standards as "Maybe" and (of course) "Tomorrow." Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale and David Zayas ("Dexter'') are among co-stars, and several famous faces turn up in cameos. DVD extras: 'making-of' documentary; audio commentary by director and co-screenwriter Will Gluck; music video. (PG: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Top Five": Chris Rock generally had been off the movie radar for a while when he came back big-time as writer, director and star of this smart comedy that takes its shots at the concept of -- and perils of -- fame. Rock's character clearly is semiautobiographical, since he's a stand-up comic turned movie star; while doing promotion for his new film, he opens his life to a reporter (Rosario Dawson) who joins him on a literal tour of his past. Gabrielle Union plays his fiancee in a cast that also includes JB Smoove, Cedric the Entertainer and a number of familiar faces in cameos as themselves. (R: AS. N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Exodus: Gods and Kings": Director Ridley Scott likes making movies on a big scale ("Blade Runner," "Gladiator"), and he gets another opportunity with this drama -- shown in 3-D theatrically -- that traces Moses' (Christian Bale) quest to free hundreds of thousands of slaves from Egyptian rule. His principal foe is Ramses (Joel Edgerton), the legendary pharaoh. Additional cast members include Aaron Paul ("Breaking Bad"), John Turturro, Ben Kingsley and Scott's "Alien" star, Sigourney Weaver. DVD extras: audio commentary by Scott and co-screenwriter Jeffrey Caine; deleted and extended scenes. (PG-13: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Penguins of Madagascar": The title characters are spun off from the successful animated-movie series into their own film, as Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private (voices of Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Conrad Vernon and Christopher Knights) do nothing less than try to save the world by stopping a global plot involving others of their own kind. At the same time, they have to deal with a vengeful octopus (voice of John Malkovich). The voice cast includes Benedict Cumberbatch, Ken Jeong, Andy Richter and celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; two 'making-of' documentaries; photo gallery. (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray)
Also Releasing this week:
"Maude: The Complete Series": Bea Arthur was known largely for theater work before producer Norman Lear cast her as a strong-willed relative of Archie Bunker on "All in the Family," leading to this spinoff series that made its own waves ... often to the great concern of CBS' censors. Maude Findlay makes no bones about expressing her opinions, which often clash with those of husband Walter (Bill Macy) and daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau). Arthur won an Emmy for the show, which teamed her with supporting player Rue McClanahan years before they would reunite on "The Golden Girls." Conrad Bain also is featured, and Esther Rolle -- who played housekeeper Florida Evans -- also got her own spinoff, "Good Times." (Not rated: AS, P)
"Turn: Washington's Spies -- The Complete First Season": The fact-inspired AMC drama series -- about spies during the Revolutionary War -- focuses on the Culper Ring, an unlikely espionage group of patriots who helped fight back after the British reclaimed such areas as Long Island and Staten Island. Jamie Bell ("Billy Elliot"), Heather Lind and Angus Macfadyen are among the stars, with Washington himself played by Ian Kahn. A second season of the show is coming. (Not rated: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Interstellar" (March 31): A space explorer (Matthew McConaughey) seeks a future for mankind -- and, even closer to home, his family -- in the galaxy in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi drama. (PG-13: P, V)
"Unbroken" (March 24): Director Angelina Jolie tells the true story of Louis Zamperini (played by Jack O'Connell), an Olympian who became a prisoner of war. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" (March 24): Director Peter Jackson wraps up his latest J.R.R. Tolkien-inspired trilogy with this epic; Martin Freeman again leads the cast. (PG-13: V)
"Wild" (March 31): In an Oscar-nominated performance, Reese Witherspoon re-creates the true, life-changing hike undertaken by Cheryl Strayed. (R: AS, N, P)
"Manhattan: Season One" (April 7): The WGN America series about the development of the atomic bomb includes Daniel Stern and Rachel Brosnahan in its ensemble cast. (Not rated: AS, P)
"Silent Running" (April 7): Bruce Dern stars as an astronaut guarding Earth's last vegetation in outer space in the Blu-ray debut of this sci-fi classic. (PG: P, V)
TOP 10 DVD RENTALS (week ending ending Feb. 8, courtesy of Rentrak)
2) "John Wick"
3) "A Walk Among the Tombstones"
4) "The Equalizer"
5) "The Maze Runner"
6) "This is /where I Leave You"
7) "No Good Deed"
8) "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
9) "Guardians of the Galaxy"
10) "Get On Up"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.
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