New to DVD and On Demand Releases for September 23 - 29

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26 September 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:
Solo: A Star Wars Story"Solo: A Star Wars Story": One key factor makes or breaks this prequel, and you probably can guess what it is ... how successful a different and younger actor is in channeling Harrison Ford's portrayal of one of the most iconic characters in the world of fantasy-adventure. Luckily, Alden Ehrenreich is up to the task, bringing enough of himself to the role while also honoring his forerunner. The script sets down the roots of Han, the interstellar rascal who lives by his own code; he throws in with a band of smugglers including Woody Harrelson and Thandie Newton, only to end up an indentured servant to an interplanetary mobster (Paul Bettany). Director Ron Howard -- who took over the picture after production had started -- wisely gives sufficient time to Donald Glover ("Atlanta''), terrific as the younger incarnation of Billy Dee Williams' Lando Calrissian. *** (PG-13: V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Gotti"Gotti'': Admittedly, he's no Marlon Brando in "The Godfather,'' but John Travolta does a reasonably effective job as the "Teflon Don'' John Gotti, one of New York's most notorious crime kingpins -- in this drama directed by actor Kevin Connolly ("Entourage''). The script recalls the power Gotti wielded during his many years with the Gambino underworld dynasty, with his wife (played by Travolta's actual spouse, Kelly Preston) and son (Spencer Lofranco) by his side. The cast also includes Stacy Keach, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Chris Mulkey and the picture's co-writer, Leo Rossi. *** (R: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series"Fraggle Rock: The Complete Series": Marking the 35th anniversary of the debut of the Jim Henson-created 1980s show, designed for family viewing and shown in America on HBO, this set compiles all 96 episodes of the live-action series -- available anew on DVD, but on Blu-ray for the first time. The numerous extras include the animated version of the music-infused program and a song-isolating feature, as Muppet-like Fraggles named Gobo, Red, Mokey, Wembley and Junior find plenty of adventure in their fantastical home base of caves where different species rely on one another. *** (Not rated) (Also on Blu-ray)

Also Releasing this Week:

Uncle Drew"Uncle Drew": In a year that also is seeing him get his own television series -- Fox's "Rel'' -- comic Lil Rel Howery headlined this tale as a down-on-his-luck coach who tries find a way into a Harlem streetball tournament. He appeals to a legendary squad to take the court again, but the key lies in getting a reclusive legend (played by NBA veteran Kyrie Irving) to participate. That man is the Uncle Drew of the title, and once he signs on, it's a matter of getting his old teammates on board as well. To that end, the cast also includes iconic athletes Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber, Lisa Leslie and Nate Robinson. Additional co-stars include Tiffany Haddish, Nick Kroll, Mike Epps and J.B. Smoove. DVD extras: two "making-of'' documentaries. *** (PG-13: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray and On Demand)
Billions: Season Three"Billions: Season Three": An absolutely superb round of the Showtime drama finds nemeses Axe and Chuck (Damian Lewis, Paul Giamatti) both under the gun, as Axe's trial forces him to turn over operation of the hedge fund to Taylor (Asia Kate Dillon), while Chuck feels the heat of having a demanding new boss (Clancy Brown) at the prosecutor's office. On the marital front, Axe's woes with Lara (Malin Akerman) continue, while Wendy (Maggie Siff) suddenly finds herself enmeshed in legal woes that could end up taking both her and Chuck down. David Costabile, Toby Leonard Moore and Jeffrey DeMunn also are in the excellent cast, with John Malkovich contributing a guest arc as a Russian investor of a highly questionable background. **** (Not rated: AS, N, P)
C.B. Strikes: The Series"C.B. Strikes: The Series": Based on novels written by J.K. Rowling under the pen name Robert Galbraith, this low-key, BBC co-produced detective drama -- shown in America by Cinemax -- benefits greatly from marvelous teamwork by stars Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger. They play war-veteran-turned-sleuth Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott, whose partnership is sometimes threatened by their attraction to each other, though she has a fiance. Their cases here boil down to three multiple-part stories, though a fourth is in the works. Notable guest stars include Sian Phillips, Martin Shaw and Tara Fitzgerald. *** (Not rated: AS, P, V)

Upcoming Releases:

"The First Purge" (Oct. 2): This prequel to the earlier horror films details how the first 12-hour period in which lawlessness is permitted came to be; the cast includes Marisa Tomei and Steve Harris. (R: AS, P, GV)
"Sicaro: Day of the Soldado" (Oct. 2): A drug kingpin's daughter is at the crux of escalating tensions among cartels; Benicio Del Toro and Josh Brolin reprise their roles from "Sicario.'' (R: AS, P, GV)
"The Resident: The Complete Season One" (Oct. 2): The Fox drama series stars Matt Czuchry as a rebellious doctor determined to make sure that his hospital's patients are less economic concerns and more human ones. (Not rated: AS, P)
"Skyscraper" (Oct. 9): Dwayne Johnson stars as an FBI veteran and security expert whose Hong Kong inspection of the world's tallest building coincides with a terrorist group's invasion of the structure. (PG-13: P, V)
"Elvis Presley: The Searcher" (Oct. 16): Shown on HBO, this documentary recalls the rise of one of the ultimate pop-culture icons in American history. (Not rated: AS, P)
"The Americans: The Complete Final Season" (Oct. 23): Russian spies Elizabeth and Philip (Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys) put the coda on their espionage adventures while posing as U.S. citizens. (Not rated: AS, P, V)

Oldies But Goodies:

"Exorcist II: The Heretic" (1977): A Blu-ray "Collector's Edition'' includes both theatrical versions of the horror sequel, an audio commentary by director John Boorman and new interviews with star Linda Blair and editor Tom Priestley. ***
"The Front Page" (1931): The original screen version of the classic newspaper comedy, starring Adolphe Menjou and Pat O'Brien, is now paired on DVD with the 1940 Cary Grant-Rosalind Russell remake "His Girl Friday.'' ***
"Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" (1977): The place where the saga began remains just as entertaining four decades later; Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford star for director George Lucas, of course. **** (Also on Blu-ray)

TOP 10 DVD & Blu-Ray Rentals
(Week ending September 16, 2018, Courtesy of 

1)    "Ocean's 8"
2)    "Deadpool 2"
3)    "Tag"
4)    "Avengers: Infinity War"
5)    "Adrift"
6)    "Hereditary"
7)    "Book Club"
8)    "Life of the Party"
9)    "Superfly"
10)  "Rampage"

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

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