With movie theaters closed or closing, we are all scrambling for entertainment options. Here are this week’s home video releases, featuring recent theatrical movies, an animated superhero saga, British television fare and World War II-era films.
“Jumanji: The Next Level” (VOD; also available on Sony DVD, Blu-ray, 4K)
Directed by Jake Kasdan from a script he wrote with Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg, this sequel is an amiable retread passing itself off as an upgrade. It reunites original cast members Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, and adds welcome new faces in Awkwafina, Danny DeVito and Danny Glover, plus a couple of fresh conceptual wrinkles, two hair-raising action scenes and some unearned lump-in-the-throat sentimentality. It’s not bad for an hour’s entertainment; too bad it runs for two.
“Richard Jewell” (VOD; also available on Warner Bros. DVD, Blu-ray)
Powered by some potent acting, Clint Eastwood’s strong and involving drama is the latest example of a genre that is one of Hollywood’s most durable: An innocent unjustly accused is all but obliterated by the indifferent forces of authority. Even before it hit theaters, the story it tells became enmeshed in various controversies, just as the real-life Jewell, falsely suspected in a deadly bombing at Atlanta’s 1996 Olympics, had his story overwhelmed by the imperatives of power elites. The key reason the film works as well as it does is the perceptive nature of Paul Walter Hauser’s lead performance. With a splendid Sam Rockwell and a dead-on Kathy Bates as Jewell’s mom.
“Black Christmas” (VOD; also available on Universal DVD, Blu-ray)
This PG-13 remake of Bob Clark’s 1974 slasher classic follows in the feminist footsteps of its predecessor, while still subverting audience expectations at each opportunity. Fans of the original — and those who like their horror movies deadly serious and brimming with blood — might not love writer-director Sophia Takal’s take, but “Black Christmas” is a fun film that gets its kicks out of literally smashing the patriarchy.
Also: “Superman: Red Son” (Warner Bros. DVD/Blu-ray, $24.98; also available on VOD)
A direct-to-video animated adaptation of the 2003 DC Comics miniseries, it features the voices of Jason Isaacs as Superman, Amy Acker as Lois Lane, Diedrich Bader as Lex Luthor and Vanessa Marshall as Wonder Woman.
“Inside No. 9” (available on Britbox)
One of TV’s more unusual anthology shows, the British series “Inside No. 9” shuffles between scenarios drawn from a variety of genres, all united primarily by three elements: a darkly comic sensibility, the presence of cocreators Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton, and the promise that at some point in each half-hour episode, the number nine will figure into the plot somehow. The latest batch of episodes — constituting season five — features guest stars like David Morrissey, Jenna Coleman and Fionn Whitehead, in stories that run the gamut from an earthy farce about soccer referees to a cleverly twisty thriller about a plagiarizing magician.
“Crashing: The Complete Third Season” (VOD; also available on HBO DVD; Blu-ray)
The third and (for now) final season of the HBO sitcom “Crashing” continues the semiautobiographical story of the show’s creator, Pete Holmes, a comedian trying to forge a career in the challenging, confidence-testing world of stand-up after a soul-crushing divorce. Season three is less about failures and setbacks than it is about success, as Pete starts to build an audience and has to think more about what kind of jokes he wants to tell and why. As always, “Crashing” balances gentle observational humor about relationships with some fascinating insider depictions of how comics think.
From the archives
“Their Finest Hour: 5 British WWII Classics” (Film Movement Classics Blu-ray)
The U.K. was at the center of the storm throughout World War II, which is why both during and immediately after the war the British movie industry turned out some remarkable movies about the courage and the cost of a devastating global conflict. The box set “Their Finest Hour: 5 British WWII Classics” capitalizes on the recent public fascination with the evacuation of Dunkirk by surrounding the 1958 film “Dunkirk” with four other gripping, mature wartime dramas, including 1942’s “Went the Day Well?,” based on a Graham Greene story about what might’ve happened if the Germans had invaded a typical English village; 1955’s “The Colditz Story,” about a daring POW escape; 1955’s “The Dam Busters,” a white-knuckle thriller about a bombing run; and 1958’s “Ice Cold in Alex,” in which exhausted evacuees fear they’re in the presence of a Nazi spy.