New movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week are led by "Rogue One," which was last year's No. 1 domestic box-office hit.
(Disney, 2016, PG-13, featurettes). Despite publicity urging that it not be referred to as a prequel, that's exactly what this sci-fi thriller is, chronicling events from the viewpoint of one ragtag crew as the Rebel Alliance tries to figure out how to thwart Darth Vader's weaponized space station, the Death Star, with only a few familiar characters from the franchise showing up.
But that's not a complaint. "Rogue One" is an exciting ride on its own merits, cleverly produced, with humor and heart, despite the doomed ending, which is as it had to be. Felicity Jones and Diego Luna are great in the lead roles, with fine support from Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Forest Whitaker and Ben Mendelsohn. James Earl Jones reprises Darth Vader's voice and there are weird (not entirely successful) virtual impersonations of the late Peter Cushing and a young Carrie Fisher.
(Universal, 2016, R for a few coarse words, trailers). Here's a delightful surprise from veteran independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, a gentle, slice-of-life picture of the kind we see all too seldom these days. It's about a week in the life of a Paterson, New Jersey, bus driver, whose name also happens to be Paterson (Adam Driver, "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Silence").
He is a man of distinct routines, driving his city bus each day, eating dinner at home with his loving wife (Golshifteh Farahani), walking the dog, stopping by the local pub and scribbling free-verse poetry during his lunch hour. It's also about his wife's penchant for painting black-and-white art, baking black-and-white cupcakes and buying a black-and-white guitar to, perhaps, become a country singer. This is a deceptively simple but profoundly moving film about day-to-day life and the quiet pursuit of one's dreams.
(Lionsgate, 2016; R for violence, language, drugs, featurettes). This is an engaging and current, if perhaps unnecessary, re-enactment of the Boston Marathon bombing and the subsequent search for the perpetrators. At its best, the film is an ensemble effort that lauds those who selflessly rushed in to help when it was needed most, with excellent actors as real-life characters, among them John Goodman, J.K. Simmons and Kevin Bacon. But for some reason the central figure is a fictional character played by Mark Wahlberg.
(Omnibus, 2017, not rated/probable G, in dubbed English or in German with English subtitles). This is a sweetly told old-fashioned adaptation of Johanna Spyri's oft-filmed novel about a young orphan girl who goes to the mountains to live with her irascible grandfather (Bruno Ganz, "Wings of Desire," "Downfall"). (This is available exclusively at Wal-Mart for the first few weeks.)
(Paramount, 2017, PG, deleted scenes, featurettes, bloopers). This action-comedy for kids has high school senior Tripp (Lucas Till) encountering a strange subterranean creature that is on the run from an evil oil company (run by Rob Lowe). The friendly critter feeds on oil and, hiding out under the hood of Tripp's truck, takes over the controls and proves to have a need for speed. There's also Amy Ryan, Danny Glover and lots of CGI.
(Sony, 2017, not rated/probable R for language, sex, nudity). As he turns 80, Ray (Frank Langella) gathers his bickering, dysfunctional family together and announces he's going to Oregon where he can be legally euthanized. All he needs is a ride, a job that is passed down to his reluctant son-in-law (Billy Crudup). This is a shrill, dark comedy with Mary Kay Place, Christine Applegate and Josh Lucas.
(Sony, 2017, R for language, trailers). Catherine Keener plays an extremely dysfunctional family's matriarch who is plagued by memories of the past, which come crashing down after her son (the late Anton Yelchin) disappears. Cary Elwes, May Rudolph and Molly Shannon co-star.
(Well Go, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence, in Mandarin with English subtitles or English dubbed, featurette). This Chinese "wire-fu" effort harks back to 1970s-style martial arts (and is in fact a remake of the 1977 "Death Duel"). It's a period piece with supernatural elements about a swordsman who, haunted by the bloodshed he's left in his wake, banishes himself to a humble life — until the past comes calling.
(Well Go, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence and language, in Cantonese with English subtitles, featurette, trailer). A thief is shot in the head and taken by police to a hospital in this Hong Kong crime thriller. Once there, he refuses treatment, hoping to stall until his cohorts can help him escape, setting up a tense dynamic between the thief, his doctor and the cop in charge.
(Candy Factory, 2017, not rated/probable R for language and sex, in Filipino with English subtitles). The title here refers to the central character, a Filipino surfing instructor named Ford, named after Francis Ford Coppola, who filmed part of "Apocalypse Now" in Baler, Philippines. Legend has it that Coppola left behind a surfboard, which the locals used to learn how to ride the waves. Truth and myth are muddled as Ford reflects on his life.
(Candy Factory, 2017, not rated/probable R for language). A struggling New York playwright (co-writer/director Dan Simon) breaks up with his wife and crashes on the couch of his best friend (Gregory Lay), who is also separated. When the friend loses his restaurant job, the two go on a weekend bender in this character-driven comedy-drama.
(Lionsgate, 2016; R for violence, sex, nudity, drugs, language, featurette). Two corrupt Albuquerque cops (Alexander Skarsgard, Michael Peña) set out to frame and blackmail bad guys, until they meet their match. Like the current "CHIPS" (which also starred Peña), this one seems to be riffing on 1970s cop shows. Paul Reiser co-stars.
(Paramount, 2016; R for sex, nudity, drugs, language; R-rated and unrated versions, deleted/extended scenes, alternate ending, audio commentary, featurette, bloopers). This is yet another all-star sleazy farce, this time with a Christmas theme as the hard-partying brother (T.J. Miller) of a CEO (Jennifer Aniston) throws the title affair. Jason Bateman, Kate McKinnon and Courtney B. Vance co-star.