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.)
"Independence Day: Resurgence": Twenty years later, aliens invade Earth again -- now equipped with even more lethal technology -- in director Roland Emmerich's sequel to his sci-fi classic. A number of familiar faces from the original also are back, including Judd Hirsch and Jeff Goldblum as a father and son, and Bill Pullman as the now-former U.S. president return (Sela Ward's character holds that office here). Will Smith is absent, but Jessie T. Usher plays his stepson, now a similar maverick pilot along with an ally portrayed by Liam Hemsworth. Brent Spiner also returns, as does Robert Loggia, in one of his final performances before his passing. DVD extras: theatrical trailer and TV spot; two "making-of'' documentaries; audio commentary by Emmerich; deleted scenes; outtakes; art gallery. *** (PG-13: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Alice Through the Looking Glass": Alice (Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland to help the depressed Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp) in this mildly effective sequel to Disney's live-action version of "Alice in Wonderland.'' She hopes to help him reclaim his family, using a time-travel device called a Chronosphere, but an individual literally named Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) puts a damper on her plans. Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter are back as the White and Red Queens, with the voices of Michael Sheen, Stephen Fry, Timothy Spall, Matt Lucas and (in his last performance) Alan Rickman heard again as other classic Lewis Carroll characters. *** (PG: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Cafe Society": Woody Allen's engaging comedy-drama follows a 1930s East Coaster (Jesse Eisenberg, returning to the Allen fold after "To Rome With Love'') to Hollywood and back. He aims to get a job with his talent-agent uncle (Steve Carell), then falls for the man's secretary (Kristen Stewart, reunited with Eisenberg from "Adventureland'' and "American Ultra'') ... only to find himself in an unexpected love triangle. Blake Lively, Corey Stoll ("House of Cards''), Parker Posey and Anna Camp ("Pitch Perfect'') also star. DVD extras: photo gallery; red-carpet footage. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V)
Also Releasing this Week:
"The Night Of": The ultimate result of an idea that was intended to bring the late James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos'') back to HBO, this compelling drama series casts an excellent John Turturro as a defense lawyer who becomes immersed in the case of a young Pakistani-American murder suspect (Riz Ahmed). Through that plot, the program examines virtually all participants in the American criminal-justice system, from police to attorneys to prison guards. Gandolfini gets a posthumous executive-producer credit on the project, which was developed by noted writers Steven Zaillian ("Schindler's List'') -- who also directed most of the eight episodes -- and Richard Price ("The Color of Money'') from the British series "Criminal Justice.'' Among others in the ensemble cast are Glenne Headly, Ben Shenkman, Sofia Black-D'Elia, Paulo Costanzo and Jeannie Berlin. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)
"Doctor Thorne": Adapted by "Downton Abbey'' mentor Julian Fellowes, this British miniseries based on Anthony Trollope's novel clearly shares elements of that globally popular show. Tom Hollander ("The Night Manager'') plays the title character, who resides with his niece (Stefanie Martini) in the same locale as a presumably privileged family. Others don't know it, but the members of that clan are no longer wealthy, prompting the matriarch (Rebecca Front) to plot her son's (Harry Richardson) marriage to an heiress ... but he's fond of the doctor's niece, thus stirring the "Downton'' brand of problems. Alison Brie and Ian McShane also appear. *** (Not rated: AS)
"Our Kind of Traitor": The writing of master espionage author John le Carre continues to fuel films, as proven by recent adaptations of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy'' and "A Most Wanted Man,'' as well as this thriller casting Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris ("Skyfall') as vacationing spouses who make a dangerous new friendship. Their acquaintance (Stellan Skarsgard) launders money for the Mob, and he wants out ... which is easier desired than done, as a necessary escape across Europe proves. Damian Lewis (''Billions") also stars. DVD extras: three ''making-of" documentaries; deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, N, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
"Lights Out" (Oct. 25): A woman (Teresa Palmer) fears her younger brother is facing the same terror that made her question her sanity. (PG-13: AS, P, V)
"Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders" (Nov. 1): This new animated feature boasts the voices of 1960s "Batman'' television-series stars Adam West, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar. (PG: AS, V)
"Bad Moms" (Nov. 1): Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn play said mothers, who decide to leave their responsibilities behind and cut loose. (R: AS, N, P)
"Nine Lives" (Nov. 1): After being transferred into the body of a cat, a billionaire (Kevin Spacey) tries to make amends to his neglected family. (PG: AS, P)
"Billions: Season One" (Nov. 8): A federal attorney (Paul Giamatti) sets his sights on the hedge-fund king (Damian Lewis) who employs the lawyer's wife (Maggie Siff). (Not rated: AS, N, P)
"Finding Dory" (Nov. 15): In the sequel to Disney-Pixar's animated "Finding Nemo,'' fish Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres) sets out to find her parents. (PG: AS)
"Game of Thrones: The Complete Sixth Season" (Nov. 15): The fate of Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is a major element of this most recent round of the hugely popular HBO series. (Not rated: AS, N, GV)
Oldies But Goodies:
"Child's Play" (1988): The horror tale that gave the world Chucky, the homicidal doll, and launched a movie franchise gets a "Collector's Edition'' Blu-ray release. ***
"Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000): Director Ang Lee's Oscar-winning martial-arts adventure gets a new 4K transfer on Ultra HD while returning to Blu-ray; Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh star. ****
"Nighthawks" (1981): Making its Blu-ray debut, this tense melodrama casts Sylvester Stallone and Billy Dee Williams as New York cops chasing an international terrorist (Rutger Hauer). ***
TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending September 25, 2016, Courtesy of comScore)
1) "Captain America: Civil War"
2) "TMNT: Out Of The Shadows"
3) "Now You See Me 2"
4) "The Jungle Book"
5) "The Huntsman: Winter's War"
6) "Money Monster"
7) "Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice"
8) "Nice Guys"
9) "The Boss"
10) "Angry Birds Movie"
FAMILY VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence