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.)
"Deadpool": Another Marvel Comics character hits the screen in this successful merging of frantic action and dark humor, as Ryan Reynolds -- in another round as a superhero, after his version of Green Lantern -- does solid work as Wade Wilson, technically an anti-superhero who's an ex-Special Forces member bent on revenge against the man (Ed Skrein) who put him in his current state. Anything goes in the frequently violent and profane tale ... and stay tuned for a highly amusing "kicker'' after the final credits. Morena Baccarin ("Gotham''), T.J. Miller, Gina Carano and veteran singer-actress Leslie Uggams also appear, and the Marvel faithful will want to keep an eye out for a cameo by brand icon Stan Lee. *** (R: AS, N, GV) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"War & Peace": Filmed several times previously, one of the most classic of all stories gets fresh treatment in this version of the Leo Tolstoy saga televised earlier this year by Lifetime (and also by A&E Network and History initially). Paul Dano ("Love & Mercy''), Lily James ("Downton Abbey'') and James Norton ("Grantchester'') star as the central trio of Pierre, Natasha and Andrei, young members of families trying to ensure their futures as imperialism comes to an end in Russia. Gillian Anderson, Jim Broadbent, Stephen Rea, Greta Scacchi and Brian Cox also appear in the drama that boasts a teleplay by Andrew Davies, writer of the original British "House of Cards.'' DVD extras: six "making-of'' documentaries. *** (Not rated: AS, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"Where To Invade Next": Michael Moore ("Bowling for Columbine,'' "Fahrenheit 9/11'') never has met a subject he's shied away from, as he demonstrates again with this documentary that takes him to France, Italy and other countries to learn firsthand how they deal with socioeconomic problems that have plagued America. His expressed mission here is to find workable solutions that he can bring back to the U.S. If this film isn't as familiar as most of Moore's others, it's for a couple of reasons: He said it was made secretly, and a bout with pneumonia left him unable to do many promotional activities for the picture's general release. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"The Boy'': Not to be confused with a Rainn Wilson-starring thriller that made its home-video debut recently, this suspense take features someone who's been very used to the genre lately -- Lauren Cohan ("The Walking Dead'') -- as an American woman who becomes the nanny to a British family. The clan includes one unusual member: a life-sized doll, meant to be a surrogate for the son the parents lost two decades earlier. They insist it be treated like a real person, and when the newcomer goes against some of the ground rules, the results suggest the doll may be exerting a supernatural force. Rupert Evans, Jim Norton and Diana Hardcastle also star. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Also Releasing this week:
"NOVA: Iceman Reborn": Kept remarkably preserved for more than 5,000 years in a frozen crypt, the European mummy known as Otzi is examined by artist Gary Staab -- one of very few people to be granted such permission -- in this recent episode of the PBS science series. Staab's mission is to develop a replica of the so-called "iceman'' that scientists and citizens can get close to, and in the process, he uncovers surprising information about the life his subject led ... largely tied to genetics. *** (Not rated)
"Scream: The TV Series": Two decades after the late filmmaker Wes Craven instituted the movie franchise that satirized the horror genre while being very much a part of it, MTV began running this weekly television spinoff putting residents of Lakewood at the mercy of a killer who reminds many people of similar troubles in the past. Willa Fitzgerald stars as one of the teens who appear to be the principal targets, and others who appear to varying degrees include Bella Thorne, Sosie Bacon (daughter of Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick), Tracy Middendorf and Jason Wiles ("Third Watch''). The series' second season begins at the end of the month. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Dirty Grandpa" (May 17): Robert De Niro plays said grandpa, a bawdy military veteran who gets his staid grandson (Zac Efron) to take him on a road trip. (R: AS, N, P)
"The Finest Hours" (May 24): Coast Guard members try to rescue the crew of a critically damaged, rapidly sinking oil tanker; Chris Pine and Casey Affleck star in the true story. (PG-13: P, V)
"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (May 31): The classic story gets a major revision involving -- you guessed it -- the undead; Lily James and Sam Riley star. (PG-13: AS, V)
"Race" (May 31): Jesse Owens (Stephan James) faces challenges both on and off the track as he prepares for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (PG-13: AS, P)
"13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi" (June 7): Directed by Michael Bay, the true drama about the 2012 diplomatic-compound attack stars John Krasinski. (R: P, V)
"Anomalisa" (June 7): The animated Oscar nominee focuses on an author (voice of David Thewlis) who gains a renewed appreciation of his life and family. (R: AS, N, P)
"Roots: The Complete Original Series" (June 7): 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)
"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)
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending April 24, 2016, courtesy of Rentrak Corp.)
2) "Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens"
3) "Daddy's Home"
4) "The Hateful Eight"
5) "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2"
8) "The Forest"
9) "Alvin And The Chipmunks: The Road Chip"
10) "In the Heart of the Sea"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence