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 Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2": Other projects have given her greater variety over the course of her run as Katniss Everdeen, but Jennifer Lawrence saw the franchise based on Suzanne Collins' novels through to its end with its final film chapter. Here, Katniss and her comrades decide the only way to liberate their world from its government's tyranny is to target its president (Donald Sutherland) ... but they're in his sights, too, resulting in a series of perils they must struggle through. Also returning are Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Jeffrey Wright, Julianne Moore, Jeffrey Wright, Jena Malone and -- in his final screen appearance -- Philip Seymour Hoffman. DVD extras: eight-part "making-of'' documentary; audio commentary by director Francis Lawrence and producer Nina Jacobson; three behind-the-scenes featurettes. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Daddy's Home": Teamed previously in "The Other Guys,'' Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg reunite in this reasonably amusing comedy. Ferrell plays a radio personality whose endless efforts to win over his stepchildren (Owen Vaccaro, Scarlett Estevez) hits a major hurdle when their biological dad (Wahlberg) re-enters the scene. Their rivalry is immediate and ever-escalating; co-stars include Linda Cardellini, Thomas Haden Church, Bobby Cannavale, comic Hannibal Buress and model Alessandra Ambrosio, but the biggest lure clearly is the predictably opposing style of the two central stars. *** (PG-13: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Freaks and Geeks: The Complete Series": The cult-classic show, about the misfits at a Detroit high school circa 1980, makes its Blu-ray debut -- with a cast including several talents who would continue to make their marks long after the series' 1999-2000 run on NBC, such as Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jason Segel ("How I Met Your Mother'') and Linda Cardellini ("ER''). Also notable are such behind-the-scenes players as creator Paul Feig ("Bridesmaids'') and executive producer Judd Apatow. Interestingly, all the episodes are presented in both their original screen aspect (4:3) and a widescreen version. A special-features disc (including deleted scenes) and a booklet are included. *** (Not rated: AS, P)
Also Releasing this week:
"The Letters": The story of Mother Teresa is related in a unique way in writer-director William Riead's drama, recalling the connection that the iconic missionary -- portrayed by Juliet Stevenson -- had to her spiritual adviser (Max von Sydow), reflected through the correspondence they shared over almost five decades. Rutger Hauer also stars in the film, but perhaps the most fascinating aspect is the moderation Stevenson gives what is a challenging performance just by the nature of the individual she's enacting. *** (PG: AS)
"James White": Christopher Abbot ("Girls'') is quite effective in the emotionally taxing title role of this drama, in which the title character indulges in a number of personal vices, but has to decide whether to pull himself together as he's beset by family tragedies. His father dies, then his mother ("Sex and the City'' alum Cynthia Nixon) reveals she has cancer -- forcing him to debate whether he can meet his grief head-on and be there for her when she needs him. Ron Livingston ("Boardwalk Empire'') also stars. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Royals: Season Two": Created by "One Tree Hil'' mentor Mark Schwahn, the account of a fictional, modern royal family -- televised by E! -- continues as Cyrus (Jake Maskall) tries to use Liam and Eleanor (William Moseley, Alexandra Park) to his benefit, while they scheme to get him out of the picture. Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) manipulates the Prime Minister in a bid to control the throne herself. Merritt Patterson and Oliver Milburn also star, with Joan Collins in a recurring role as the Grand Duchess. (Not rated: AS, P)
"Point Break" (March 29): The action-movie remake casts Luke Bracey as a novice FBI agent who infiltrates a possibly criminal group of thrill-seekers. (PG-13: AS, P, V) "Exposed" (March 29): Keanu Reeves plays a New York police detective whose probe of his partner's death comes to involve a troubled woman (Ana de Armas). (R: AS, P, V)
"Concussion" (March 29): Will Smith stars as a forensic pathologist who links pro football's necessary roughness to dementia in some players. (PG-13: AS, P)
"The Hateful Eight" (March 29): In Quentin Tarantino's Western, a blizzard strands stagecoach travelers; stars include Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Jason Leigh. (R: AS, N, P, GV)
"The Expanse: Season One" (April 5): Earthlings and Martians try to coexist in the Syfy series; stars include Thomas Jane and Shohreh Aghdashloo. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Jackie Robinson" (April 12): The same week it debuts on PBS, Ken Burns' profile of the baseball and civil-rights icon (voiced in some sequences by Jamie Foxx) comes to home video. (Not rated)
"The Revenant" (April 19): The recent Oscar winner for best actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and director (Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu) is an early-19th-century frontier survival story. (R: AS, N. P, GV)
"Lou Grant: The Complete First Season" (May 3): Edward Asner carried his "Mary Tyler Moore Show'' character into this drama series, which made Grant a Los Angeles newspaper editor. (Not rated: AS, P)
TOP 10 DVD RENTALS
(Week ending March 6, 2016, courtesy of Rentrak Corp.)
1) "The Martian"
2) "The Intern"
3) "Straight Outta Compton"
4) "The Night Before"
5) "The Good Dinosaur"
7) "Bridge of Spies"
8) "The Last Witch Hunter"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence