A number of notable 2016 movies have been released on Blu-ray and DVD this week, including "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them."
(Warner, 2016, PG-13, deleted scenes, featurettes). The magical world of Harry Potter returns with this enchanting adaptation of J.K. Rowling's prequel novel. Here, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) arrives in 1926 New York to rescue magical creatures, but circumstances put him on a collision course with dark forces.
That's the plot, but what makes this one so enjoyable is its off-kilter sense of humor and a disarming sense of wonder that develops around the events of the story, which is set in the past but in a familiar environment. Redmayne is terrific in the lead, with nice support from Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton and Jon Voight, among others.
(Fox, 2016, PG-13, featurette, music video, photo gallery). Warren Beatty wrote and directed this bit of fluff (his first film in 15 years) and stars as Howard Hughes, but the emphasis is on the up-and-down romance of a young couple (Alden Ehrenreich, Lily Collins) in 1960s Hollywood, with eccentric, control-freak Hughes interfering here and there. A few enchanting moments and some snappy dialogue can't make up for overall superficiality and sluggishness. The all-star supporting cast includes Annette Bening, Matthew Broderick, Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan, Oliver Platt, Martin Sheen and Paul Sorvino, among others.
(Paramount, 2016, R for violence, featurette). Martin Scorsese's latest film is a dark look at two 17th-century Portuguese Jesuit priests (Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver) who travel to Japan to search for their mentor (Liam Neeson) and check on underground converts in a world where Christianity is banned. Disturbing violence punctuates this pensive and slow but engaging and thoughtful meditation.
(Universal, 2016, PG-13, deleted scenes, featurettes). A 12-year-old boy (Lewis MacDougall) grieves over the terminal cancer that is taking his mother (Felicity Jones), and he gets no help from his absent father, his rigid grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) or a school bully. When he unwittingly summons a giant tree monster (voiced by Liam Neeson), it tells him stories that will ultimately help him see it through.
(Lionsgate, 2016; R for sex, language, nudity, drugs; audio commentary, featurettes). Annette Bening shines (and earned an Oscar nomination) in this comedy-drama of a middle-aged bohemian single mother in 1979 Southern California trying to connect with her adolescent son (Lucas Jade Zumann), but the film is loosely constructed and some of the R-rated material gets in the way. Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning and Billy Crudup co-star.
(Candy Factory, 2017, not rated/probable R for some language). A film editor (David Call) is unexpectedly rescued from an alcoholic bender by a producer who asks him to help with a troubled movie that stars the editor's actress sister (Kelli Garner). But when she's murdered, he blames himself, even as a possible conspiracy unfolds. This is a soft-spoken, emotionally charged morality tale, a low-key but compelling indie drama of the kind Hollywood ignores these days. Peter Coyote co-stars.
(aka "Southern Fury," Lionsgate, 2017; R for violence, language, drugs; audio commentary, featurettes, trailers). Does anyone remember when Nicolas Cage won an Oscar? The box cover here reminds you but Cage's performance certainly won't. He's an over-the-top mobster under heavy makeup, squaring off against a businessman (Adrian Grenier) and his deadbeat brother (Johnathon Schaech). John Cusack plays a police detective.
(Fox, 2016, R for language and sex, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes, photo gallery, bloopers). This is a very raunchy comedy about a wealthy video game CEO (James Franco) who butts heads with his conservative potential father-in-law (Bryan Cranston). Megan Mullally, Keegan-Michael Key and Cedric the Entertainer co-star.