HobbitTwo titles jump out this week. New to Blu-ray combo and DVD is the final installment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, a single book that Peter Jackson stretched out to make a companion trilogy to The Lord of the Rings. As I wrote in my review, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies is really more third act than stand-alone film, dominated by final-battle conflict. You have to have seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: The Desloation of Smaug to appreciate the climax, and even then it’s a series for families with older children, as the PG-13 film has plenty of fantasy violence. But for Tolkien-lovers, it’s a must-buy. Martin Freeman stars as the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, while Ian McKellen is the wizard Gandalf and Richard Armitage is dwarf leader Thorin.

IntotheWoodsIf your family is into musicals, the must-have this week is Disney’s PG-rated Into the Woods, a review of which I’ve just posted. It’s a pretty faithful adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim-James Lapine Tony Award-winning Broadway play that really has a theatrical feel to it. Into the Woods is also pretty faithful to the original, and I thought Disney’s cast and their performances were every bit as good as the Broadway version. Meryl Streep stars as the witch, Anna Kendrick as Cinderella, James Corden and Emily Blunt as the Baker and his wife, Daniel Huttlestone as Jack, Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood, Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel, Chris Pine as Prince Charming, and Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel’s Prince in this fairytale mash-up, which subverts the clichéd happily-ever-after ending. Look for it on Blu-ray or DVD.

SureThingFamilies with teens might check out Rob Reiner’s The Sure Thing, an opposites-attract romantic dramedy starring John Cusack (Say Anything) and Daphne Zuniga (Spaceballs). The 1985 film comes out in a 30th Anniversary Blu-ray this week, rated PG-13 for sexual content, including references and language. But the only skin we glimpse is a man “mooning” other cars in this story of a college freshman (Cusack) who decides to travel across country to visit his friend and bed what his friend claims is a “sure thing.” To share on costs he teams with Allison (Zuniga), a coed who is going to California during the same spring break to visit her boyfriend. Opposites clash, opposites drive each other crazy, and opposites kind of like each other and try to help each other figure out life, which seems more complicated for teens than for anyone else. Though sex is the driving force, it’s actually a sweet film from Reiner, who also gave us The Princess Bride and Stand by Me.

UnbrokenNot so sweet and downright difficult to watch in parts is Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, a war and prisoner-of-war movie about a U.S. Olympian named Louis Zamperini (Jack O’Connell) who survives 47 days on a raft after his bomber is shot down during WWII, only to be taken prisoner and subjected to all manner of abuse at the hands of his Japanese captors. Unbroken is rated PG-13 for brief language and near-constant war violence, including intense sequences of brutality. It’s a movie about survival, and that means catching and slitting open a seagull to eat raw, then vomiting. There’s even violence in flashbacks, where we see a boy beaten by others and called a “dago.” But for families who are into historical-based films, this one offers a glimpse into man’s inhumanity to man . . . and man’s ability to resiliently survive. It’s available on both Blu-ray combo and DVD.

VincentTheoIt seems as if every fifth arts question on Trivia Crack is about Vincent van Gogh, and the curious can learn his tragic story this week when Robert Altman’s 1990 biopic Vincent & Theo comes to Blu-ray for the first time. Tim Roth stars as the artist and Paul Rhys as his art-dealer brother in this beautifully filmed PG-13 rated offering, which can be dark at times, since it deals with a tortured artist who went through long bouts of depression and was unstable enough to cut off his ear to give it to a woman.

AtwarwithArmyFinally, if your family loves old black-and-white classics, the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Louis stars in At War with the Army, a 1950 musical-comedy directed by Hal Walker, who also helmed three of the Crosby-Hope-Lamour “road pictures.” Sgt. Puccinelli (Martin) wants to be transferred overseas, while PFC Korwin (Lewis) wants a pass to see his wife and new baby. But forget about it, because this is WWII and the boys are in training . . . to perform at a talent show. Though it isn’t highly regarded now, this was the film that solidified Martin & Lewis as box-office talents and introduced actress Polly Bergen. Film Chest restored the film and is bringing it to Blu-ray for the first time this week.

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