New to DVD and On Demand Releases for May 20 - 26

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20 May 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:
12 Strong"The 15:17 to Paris'': It isn't often that people get to tell their own story in a dramatized film these days, but director Clint Eastwood tackles another creative challenge by casting the actual trio of Americans who foiled a 2015 terrorist attack aboard a high-speed European train. Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone -- who also collaborated on a book about the incident -- play themselves, with Eastwood's economical storytelling technique helping greatly with the resulting, effectively tense recounting of what happened. Cinematographer Tom Stern, a longtime Eastwood colleague, gets a special nod here. Experienced talents including Jenna Fischer ("The Office''), Judy Greer, Tony Hale ("Veep'') and Thomas Lennon appear alongside the acting newcomers. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Red Sparrow"Red Sparrow": The physicality displayed by Jennifer Lawrence in the "Hunger Games'' series turned out to be a solid warmup for what she has to do in this stylish melodrama, which reunites her with a director of that franchise, Francis Lawrence (no relation). The actress plays a Russian ballerina turned lethal spy, and she gets ever dirtier -- both figuratively and literally -- and adopts more disguises as she settles into the espionage game, though she's not entirely sure that's where she belongs. That's quite understandable, given certain sequences of brutality here. Joel Edgerton co-stars as a flawed CIA man the heroine becomes involved with, and the cast also includes Jeremy Irons, Mary-Louise Parker, Joely Richardson and Charlotte Rampling. DVD extras: audio commentary by Francis Lawrence; deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Game Night"Game Night": The title event takes a different texture for a group of friends who love getting together to play games in this amusing comedy-mystery. Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams star as the hosts whose plans for simple fun go awry when the husband's brother (Kyle Chandler) overdoes it and ends up getting kidnapped for real, sending the others on a rescue mission they're not entirely prepared for. Co-star Jesse Plemons gets to reteam with fellow "Friday Night Lights'' alum Chandler; the cast also includes Lamorne Morris ("New Girl''), Kylie Bunbury ("Pitch''), Sharon Horgan ("Catastrophe'') and Billy Magnussen ("Ingrid Goes West''), "Dexter's'' Michael C. Hall and Chelsea Peretti ("Brooklyn Nine-Nine''). "Bones'' veteran John Francis Daley co-directed the picture with Jonathan Goldstein. DVD extra: "making-of'' documentary. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Also Releasing this Week:

Masterpiece: Little Women"Masterpiece: Little Women": In the same week it concludes its highly anticipated PBS telecast, the latest version of the much-filmed Louisa May Alcott classic -- co-produced by England's BBC, and defining "female empowerment'' all over again as adapted by "Call the Midwife'' creator Heidi Thomas -- comes to home video. Maya Hawke, Willa Fitzgerald, Annes Elwy and Kathryn Newton ("Big Little Lies'') play the March sisters, whose lives with the family matriarchs (portrayed by Emily Watson and the truly legendary Angela Lansbury) largely fuel the saga. Michael Gambon, Dylan Baker and Julian Morris also are in the cast ... but as always, this story really belongs to its women. *** (Not rated: AS) (Also on Blu-ray)
A Fantastic Woman"A Fantastic Woman": The latest Oscar winner for best foreign language film, director and co-writer Sebastian Lelio's drama -- also honored by the Film Independent Spirit Awards and the GLAAD Media Awards, among other ceremonies -- made history as the first movie from Chile to win that Academy Award. The story revolves around a transgender waitress and would-be singer (played by Daniela Vega) whose older love interest suddenly dies, leaving her to deal with his family and maintain her own personhood in the face of the tragedy. *** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
Early Man"Early Man": Director Nick Park applies his stop-motion-animation technique well-known from "Wallace & Gromit'' and "Shaun the Sheep'' to this prehistoric comedy about a very early football game. One of the relatively few survivors (voice of Eddie Redmayne) of Earth's collision with an asteroid leads a competition against the squad of an aggressor (voice of Tom Hiddleston), with the winners claiming supremacy over their society. Maisie Williams ("Game of Thrones''), Timothy Spall, Miriam Margolyes and filmmaker Park himself also are in the voice cast. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)

Upcoming Releases:

"Annihilation" (May 29): The return of a biologist's (Natalie Portman) missing husband sends her on her own expedition into a strange realm. (R: AS, P, V)
"I'm Dying Up Here: Season One" (May 29): With Jim Carrey among its executive producers, the Showtime drama series probes the world of stand-up comedy; stars include Melissa Leo and Michael Angarano. (Not rated: AS, P)
"The Last Ship: The Complete Fourth Season" (June 5): This round of the TNT drama series intentionally mirrors Homer's "The Odyssey''; Eric Dane and Adam Baldwin star. (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Orange is the New Black: Season Five" (June 12): The inmates take over at Litchfield as a full-blown riot erupts in this round of the Netflix series; Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon and Kate Mulgrew star. (Not rated: AS, N, P, V)
"Will & Grace (The Revival): Season One" (June 12): Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally reprise their Emmy-winning roles in the most recent episodes of the NBC sitcom. (Not rated: AS, P)
"Flower" (June 19): A highly individualistic teen (Zoey Deutch) schemes against a high-school teacher (Adam Scott) who may have a secret life. (R: AS, P, V)

Oldies But Goodies:

"A Fistful of Dollars" (1964): Director Sergio Leone's Western, which made Clint Eastwood a global superstar, gets a home-video reintroduction in its 4K Blu-ray restoration. ***
"The Matrix" (1999): The Wachowskis' hugely innovative, Oscar-winning fantasy-adventure also gets new 4K treatment on Blu-ray; Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne star. ***
"Santa Claus Conquers the Martians" (1964): Pia Zadora plays one of the Martian children (and John Call is Santa) in this holiday pseudo-classic, part of the new "Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Singles Collection.'' ***

TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending May 13, 2018, Courtesy of 

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

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