New to View: March 8

By Bob Bloom
The following Blu-rays and DVDs are being released on March 8:
In the Heart of the Sea (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Warner Home Video
Rated: PG-13, intense action violence, adult themes
The lowdown: This sea-faring drama looks at a tragedy that inspired author Herman Melville to write “Moby Dick.”
In 1820, the whaling ship “Essex,” was rammed and sunk by a great white whale. The few survivors underwent various hardships and had to resort to desperate measures in order to survive.
“In the Heart of the Sea” is a solid adventure that fails to reach the heroic heights it aims for. The film’s uneven pace, at times, keeps you at arm’s length, while it moves toward reconciling its two plotlines.
The sea sequences are rousing and offer a good dose of adrenaline, yet they don’t inspire us as director Ron Howard surely intended.
The action scenes with the huge white whale, though impressive, are too brief.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English Dolby Atmos, English 5.1 Dolby digital audio descriptive and French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles; DVD: 1.85:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus offerings include a log kept by Howard about the filming, a featurette on the characters played by Chris Hemsworth and Benjamin Walker, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the movie and how it inspired “Moby Dick,” deleted and extended scenes and a look at the life of a whaler.

Macbeth (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Details: 2015, Anchor Bay Entertainment
Rated: R, graphic violence, sexual situations
The lowdown: Despite a strong cast headed by Michael Fassbender as Macbeth and Marion Cotillard as Lady Macbeth, this version of Shakespeare’s tragedy is very cold and distant.
The movie seems to race through the text as if in a hurry to get to the finale.
It fails to allow its audience to make any emotional connections with the tragic couple.
The gloomy, cold and uninviting landscape adds to the movie’s overall mood of despair and ambition.
A major concern is that Fassbender and Cotillard seem to always be talking very low, making it difficult to understand or hear them, even with a decent sound system.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette and a question-and-answer session with Fassbender comprise the major bonus offerings.

Coming Home (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Rated: PG-13, adult themes, violence
The lowdown: This stellar Chinese drama is a heartbreaking story about family, loss and memory set against the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.
Lu (Chen Daoming) and Feng (Gong Li) are a devoted couple separated when he is arrested and sent to a labor camp as a political prisoner.
When Lu finally is released, Feng does not recognize him, as an accident years earlier caused amnesia.
The film is a bittersweet experience that looks at sacrifice, redemption and the timelessness of love.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; Mandarin and Portuguese 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English 5.1 Dolby digital audio descriptive track and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A commentary track and a question-and-answer session with director Zhang Yinou comprise the major bonus offerings.

Room (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Release date: March 1
Details: 2015, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: R, language, sexual content, mature themes
The lowdown: One of the best movies of 2015 earned Brie Larson a best actress Academy Award as a kidnapped woman held for seven years who, with the son she bore in captivity, executes an escape.
She and her boy now have to adjust to being in the real world. While in their 11×11 shed, Mom took care and protected her boy, but in their new environment, it is his tenacity that helps get his mother on the road to normalcy.
“Room” is a must-see experience, a memorable film that is unforgettable.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.40:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: Bonus features include a making of featurette, a look at recreating the 11×11 shed and a commentary track.

Youth (Blu-ray + Ultraviolet)
Release date: March 1
Details: 2015, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: R, nudity, sexual content, language
The lowdown: This film is a leisurely character study, a movie that requires patience, as it looks at two longtime friends during their annual vacation at a resort in the Swiss Alps.
The film stars Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel who, over a period of weeks, discuss life, love, art, loss, regret and aging.
“Youth” has no plot to speak of. It simply eavesdrops on a couple of old men exchanging views on various subjects.
Yet, Caine and Keitel hold your attention because they are such consummate actors that during some exchanges you really don’t listen to what they say as much as how they put their words across.
The movie consecrates memory and how, as we age, we bend and twist the past to fit our needs.
On occasion, the movie slips into pretention as the men alternately bemoan and celebrate the aging process.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 2.39:1 widescreen picture; English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English 5.1 Dolby digital audio descriptive track; English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles.
Don’t miss: Extras include featurettes on Caine, other cast members, director Paolo Sorrentino, the film’s sound and music and a look at the essence of “Youth.”

The Spoils of Babylon
Details: 2015, Anchor Bay Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: This spoof of 1980s TV miniseries and special event programs such as “The Winds of War” and “The Thorn Birds” was produced by, among others, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, and aired on IFC.
Ferrell appears as author Eric Jonrosh, who introduces audiences to this adaptation of his sweeping novel about the Morehouse family.
An all-star cast including Tim Robbins, Tobey Maguire, Kristen Wiig, Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Michael Sheen and Haley Joel Osment are along for the ride.
Technical aspects: 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH and Spanish subtitles.

LEGO: Justice League: Cosmic Clash (Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet)
Release date: March 1
Details: 2016, Warner Home Video
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: In this LEGO superhero adventure, the members of the Justice League must stop the evil Braniac from capturing Earth and adding it to his collection of planets.
The kids will enjoy watching Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Supergirl and Cyborg all fight to save their home in this original LEGO and DC Comics feature.
It’s exciting as the Justice League and Legion of Super Heroes team up. The youngsters will get a kick out of seeing so many heroes on the screen.
Technical aspects: Blu-ray: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, Spanish and French subtitles; DVD: 1.85:1 widescreen picture; English, Spanish and French 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A gag reel featuring the superheroes flubbing their lines is the major bonus offering.

Manh(A)ttan: Season Two (Blu-ray)
Details: 2015, Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: The second season of this series set in Los Alamos, N.M., follows the scientists who are racing to create the atomic bomb as well as their families, who surrender their freedom, in order to end World War II.
Looming ahead is the Cold War, with its spies and paranoia, as the patriotism of people believed loyal to the United States will be questioned.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.78:1 (16×9) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH subtitles.

The Americans: The Complete Third Season
Release date:
March 1
Details: 2015, Fox Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: A four-disc set featuring all 13 second-season episodes of this Fox series set in the 1980s about an American family who really are Russian spies.
The episodes play like cat-and-mouse games as Philip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) find it more and more difficult to maintain their cover, even as their missions become riskier and more dangerous. They also face pressure from the KGB to induct their daughter into the program.
Added to their complications is their friendship with their neighbor, FBI agent Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich).
Technical aspects: 1.78:1 widescreen picture; English 5.1 Dolby digital; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A featurette on the impact of the Cold War on Paige and deleted scenes comprise the bonus offerings.

Sunshine Superman (Blu-ray)
Release date: March 1
Details: 2015, Magnolia Home Entertainment
Rated: PG, mature themes, language, smoking, a nude scene
The lowdown: A documentary that follows Carl Boenish, the father of the BASE-jumping movement.
Boenish’s early obsession with skydiving led to a more spectacular — and dangerous — passion.
The scenery and jump footage are breathtaking and Boenish and his wife, Jean, follow their dreams of leaping from the highest peaks they can find.
The story uses 16mm archive footage, re-enactments and aerial photography to follow the triumphs and tragedies of the Boenishes.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 (16×9 enhanced) widescreen picture; English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles.
Don’t miss: A making of featurette and two short filmpoems by Boenish, “Sky Dive!” and “Masters of the Sky,” comprise the extras.

Hogan’s Heroes: The Complete Series
Details: 1965-71, CBS DVD-Paramount Home Entertainment
Rated: Not rated
The lowdown: I was never a big fan of this CBS comedy, but when I did watch an episode or two, I always wondered what actual World War II POWs were thinking if they tuned in.
For 168 episodes Bob Crane’s Col. Hogan and his merry band of prisoners outwitted the German dolts assigned to keep them behind barbed wire.
Of course, Hogan and his men went in and out of the camp as if it were a hotel with a revolving door.
Nevertheless, the series lasted for six years, so the show’s creators must have been doing something right.
This 27-disc set offers more than 71 hours of laughs.
Technical aspects: 4×3 full-screen picture; English Dolby digital monaural.
Don’t miss: Extras include Crane’s 8mm home movies on the set, some radio material from Crane, a gag reel and commentaries on select episodes.

Species II (Blu-ray)
Species III & Species: The Awakening double feature (Blu-ray)
Details: 1998, 2004, 2007, Scream Factory
Rated: R, Unrated
The lowdown: A trio of films that find mankind battling for survival against half-alien clone offsprings.
In “Species II” (R, 1998), scientist Laura Baker (Marg Helgenberger) and assassin Press Lennox (Michael Madsen) use Eve (Natasha Henstridge) to find an astronaut infected with an alien entity.
The astronaut has an overwhelming desire to procreate with human women. Unfortunately, though, Eve escapes to mate with the astronaut in order to create a pure alien race.
“Species III” (unrated, 2004) finds Sara, Eve’s daughter following in her mother’s footsteps, giving in to an overwhelming desire to mate.
“Species: The Awakening” (unrated, 2007) is more of the same. This time, a college professor blacks out and awakens in the midst of the aftermath of a mass slaughter.
She later learns she is a clone from a hybrid of human and alien DNA. She and her uncle head to Mexico to find the scientist who created her, only to end up battling other hybrids.
Technical aspects: 1080p high definition, 1.85:1 widescreen picture (“Species II”) and 1.78:1 widescreen pictures (“Species III” and “Species: The Awakening”); English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; English subtitles.
Don’t miss: Supplemental materials include interviews with various cast members, screenwriters and filmmakers, outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes and a commentary track on “Species III.”

Other Blu-rays and DVDs being released on Tuesday, unless otherwise indicated:
Out of the Inferno (DVD + Ultraviolet) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Punk’s Dead: SLC Punk 2 (Cinedigm)
FOR KIDS
Beyond Beyond (DVD + Ultraviolet) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment)
Peppa Pig: The Golden Boots (E One Entertainment)
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Season 3 (Flatiron Film Co.-Cinedigm)

DIGITAL DOWNLOADS
Hero Quest (Cinedigm)
Ukraine Is Not a Brothel (Magnolia Home Entertainment)

Coming next week: Sisters
Game of Thrones: The Complete Fifth Season

Bob Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. He reviews movies, Blu-rays and DVDs for ReelBob (ReelBob.com), The Film Yap and other print and online publications. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com. You also can follow Bloom on Twitter @ReelBobBloom and on Facebook. Movie reviews by Bloom also can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

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