“A United Kingdom” and “The Lego Batman Movie” lead these new movies on home video platforms this week.
“A United Kingdom” (Fox, 2017, PG-13, featurettes). While studying law in London, circa 1947, the heir to the throne of the country that would become Botswana kindles worldwide controversy when he meets, falls in love with and marries a white British woman. South Africa’s newly established apartheid rule helps fuel the controversy but England proves to be equally intolerant.
This is a very strong true-life drama with superb lead performances by David Oyelowo (“Selma,” “Queen of Katwe”) and Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl,” “Jack Reacher”), and it relates one of those slices of history that may have you asking, “Why don’t I know this story?” “Hidden Figures” prompted a similar reaction. Don’t miss this one.
“The Lego Batman Movie” (Warner, 2017, PG, deleted scenes, featurettes, four new short cartoons). “The Lego Movie’s” breakout character was unquestionably Batman (voiced by Will Arnett), so it’s only natural he would get his own animated spinoff. There is a Batman vs. Joker (Zach Galifianakis) plot but it’s really just a thin line on which to hang pop-culture jokes galore. Superman’s here, too, voiced by Channing Tatum, and Seth Green voices King Kong, which should give you some idea of what to expect — silly fun.
“Alone in Berlin” (IFC, 2017, R for violence, featurettes, trailer). Emma Thompson and Brendan Gleeson are excellent in this brooding real-life story of a middle-aged, working-class German couple in 1940 Berlin who learn their son has been killed in the war. Already disillusioned with Hitler’s Nazi regime, they begin a subversive postcard-writing campaign, leaving anti-Nazi cards all around the city, hoping to motivate others. Daniel Brühl plays the Nazi officer on their trail (a role very similar to the one he played in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”) The content here never rises to an R-rated level and is more deserving of a PG-13.
“The Iron Man” (aka “Iron Ivan,” MVD, 2014, not rated/probable PG-13, in Russian with English subtitles). Here’s a surprisingly gentle, sweet-natured biography of Russian world champion wrestler Ivan Poddubny (played wonderfully by Mikhail Porechenkov), a gentle giant whose career began around the turn of the century. Poddubny never lost a (fair) fight in his 40 years of competition, even in matches with opponents half his age and despite being taken advantage of by greedy promoters. It is well-acted and directed, though the English subtitles are a bit off in places (as when he is offered an alcoholic drink and as he declines the subtitles read, “I don’t smoke”).
“Table 19” (Fox, 2017, PG-13, deleted scenes, featurettes, photo gallery). Anna Kendrick leads an ensemble cast in this wedding comedy as a woman dumped from being maid of honor and consigned to the loser’s table at the reception. It is unnecessarily vulgar and only sporadically amusing, despite the game cast, which includes Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow.
“Dragonheart: Battle for the Heartfire” (Universal, 2017, PG-13, featurettes). The fourth in this fantasy franchise (and third that went straight to video) has Drago the dragon trying to retain his source of power (the “heartfire”) while attempting to bring together the late king’s twin siblings. In the original 1996 theatrical film, Sean Connery voiced Drago. In the sequels he was replaced by Robby Benson, Ben Kingsley and, for this one, Patrick Stewart.
“All Nighter” (Fox, 2017; R for language, sex, drugs, nudity). The casting gives a boost to this slapdash comedy about a globe-trotting middle-aged man of mystery (J.K. Simmons) who takes advantage of a layover in Los Angeles to see his daughter but discovers she has disappeared. So he enlists her slacker ex-boyfriend (Emile Hirsch) to help find her, leading to a series of eccentric misadventures.
“3 Generations” (Anchor Bay, 2017, PG-13, deleted/extended scenes). A teen girl (Elle Fanning) wants to transition from female to male, which means her single mother (Naomi Watts) will have to track down the biological father to obtain consent. Meanwhile, the teen’s lesbian grandmother (Susan Sarandon) struggles with the decision.
“Bitter Harvest” (Lionsgate, 2017, R for violence, photo gallery). The true story of grain farmers caught up in Joseph Stalin’s 1930s collective-farm plan, and the resulting famine-genocide in Soviet Ukraine, is really just a superficial backdrop for this conventional tale of young lovers, played by actors (Max Irons, Samantha Banks) with zero chemistry.
“Mine” (Well Go, 2017, not rated/probable R for violence, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailer). A U.S. soldier (Armie Hammer) in North Africa escapes after a failed assassination mission only to find himself in a desert full of land mines. Naturally, he steps on one, so he sits tight and calls for a rescue — but it can’t come for 52 hours. Can he survive 52 hours of heat, sandstorms, thirst and trying not to shift his weight?