The home video offerings are plentiful this holiday season including special version and gift set releases (Note: check for release dates, which are always subject to change, as well as different available versions (standard, collector’s, etc.) and formats (e.g. DVD, Blu-ray, digital, etc.).
Bill Gaither’s Homecoming Hymns is a collector set featuring a 150 inspirational life performances plus a 20 song CD, 48 page hymnbook and extensive bonus content. There are extended conversations with Bill and Gloria Gaither. The behind-the-scenes featurettes including “Amazing Grace” and “How Great Thou Art” and a new interview with Bill Gaither talking about hymns.
The PG-rated drama The Case for Christ is based on the Lee Strobel book. Mike Vogel, Erika Christensen, Robert Forester, Frankie Faison and Faye Dunaway star in this film about an atheist/journalist trying to disprove the existence of God.
Jonah the Musical presents the epic Bible story adventure for the whole family that was filmed live on the Sight & Sound Theatres’ stage in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Special features include the featurettes “Behind the Curtain” and “Sight & Sound Story.”
The inspiring drama All Saints stars John Corbett as a salesman-turned-pastor who faces new challenges and opportunities with his tight-knit congregation and ever changing community. Inspired by a true story.
Bob Hope: Salute to the Troops spans over an amazing 50 years of this comedian’s work beginning in the 1930s during World War II until the early 1990s during Operation Desert Shield. Make the holidays special with Bob Hope: Hope For the Holidays, which includes several monologues from USO holiday tours and clips from hilarious Christmas sketches.
Thanks For The Memories: The Bob Hope Specials features 13 digitally restored and unedited specials from Bob’s stellar career. Producers pack in seven specials totaling 395 minutes into these three quality discs complete with stereo audio that feature comedy specials and holiday showcases that are still some of the most-watched programs in television history.
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life: Season 1 has the entire Netflix series plus extra feature from the revived series starring Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Scott Patterson, Kelly Bishop, Keiko Agena, Milo Ventimiglia, Matt Czuchry, Sean Gunn, Yanic Truesdale and Melissa McCarthy.
Baseball fans can make the Houston Astros’ World Series win even more special for that special fan with the Houston Astros 2017 World Series Collector’s Edition that features over 1000 minutes of content and special features.
Emma Watson and Dan Stevens take the leads in this live-action version of Disney’s 1991 animated musical Beauty and the Beast, which spawned a 1994 Broadway musical. All three works feature the now classic musical works of Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Audiences do not have to know the original stories before viewing this entertaining film since filmmakers provide great enhancements, expanded character development, and self-explaining visuals throughout the two hour and nine minute runtime.
Set in China, the nature documentary Born in China features pandas and several other animals and is narrated by John Krasinski. The Disney Channel’s successful sequel Descendants 2 is directed by Danny Ortega (Dirty Dancing) and includes must-see bonus features. In this next adventure, the Villain Kids return as Mal (Dove Cameron feels the pressure to be royally perfect.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 boasts a star-filled cast expands from the following base – Peter Quill (a.k.a. Star Lord), played by Chris Pratt; Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana, the adopted daughter of tyrannical Titan being Thanos; Drax, played by former pro wrestler Dave Bautista; the wonderfully endearing Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel (The Fate of the Furious) and the wise-cracking, but brilliantly strategic Rocket, voiced by Bradley Cooper. Based the comic book series that began in 1969, this sequel also stars Michael Rooker (Yondu), Pom Klementieff (Mantis) and Karen Gillan as Gamora’s sister Nebula plus some surprise actors in key roles.
Johnny Depp reprises his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales that’s filled with ghost pirates and a quest for the Trident of Poseidon. Geoffrey Rush also returns as Captain Barbosa with Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Swann and Orlando Bloom as Will Turner plus many other familiar faces like Kevin McNally as Gibbs. Javier Bardem plays the main antagonist Captain Salazar while newcomer Brenton Thwaites plays Henry Turner.
Based on the classic, print comic strip created by Charles Schulz, the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment DVD collection Peanuts by Schulz: Snoopy Tales celebrates the first original Peanuts cartoon series in over 10 years. This widescreen two-disc set presents 227 minutes in 32 short episodes that originally premiered in May 2016 on Boomerang (no longer being aired; some episodes still available on the Cartoon Network app). Other Peanuts by Schulz titles include Go Team Go! and School Days.
Pixar Animation Studios’ eighteenth feature film Cars 3 keeps racing as the main focus with character development at a solid second. No noticeable continuity from the spy-themed Cars 2 released in 2011 except for the main friendship between red racer #95 Lightning McQueen, voiced again by Owen Wilson, and tow truck Mater, voiced again by comedian Larry the Cable Guy. Set in Route 66’s Radiator Springs town and various U.S. racing locations, McQueen streaks to a new stage where he can train those coming up behind him while appreciating and drawing knowledge upon those valued character who trained him, especially Doc Hudson (The Fabulous Hudson Hornet), voiced again by the late great Paul Newman. Filmmakers use archived audio from his original audio recording sessions (over 28 hours) for new sequences and even some originally meant for the first film in this series, 2006’s Cars.
Trolls Holiday continues the adventures of Poppy, voiced by Anna Kendrick, queen of the Trolls, learns that the Bergens no longer have any holidays on their calendar, so she gets help from Branch, voiced by Justin Timberlake as well as Bridget, voiced by Zooey Deschanel, Biggie, voiced by Late Late Show host James Corden and King Gristle. Look for Trolls Holiday to broadcast on NBC on Friday November 24th then on Netflix and home video. Music soundtrack also available.
Steve Carell expands his memorable villain-turned-good Gru into a dual role as his twin brother Dru while Kristen Wiig also returns to the fold as his wife Lucy who is also an agent in Despicable Me 3. This computer animated comedy/adventure is Illumination Entertainment’s eighth feature film in ten years and the third installment in this increasingly popular film franchise filled with Gru’s helpers, the Minions, legions of tiny yellow capsule-shaped creatures who provide immense comedy throughout the story.
The LEGO Batman Movie puts a comic spin on the Dark Knight with Will Arnett returning to voice this Caped Crusader/Bruce Wayne along with Ralph Fiennes as Alfred, Michael Cera as Robin/Dick Grayson, Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon plus Zach Galifianakis voicing the Joker and Jenny Slate (The Secret Life of Pets) voicing Harley Quinn.
Other animated features include The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Leap!, The Emoji Movie, Moana, and The Nut Job 2:Nutty By Nature featuring the reprised voice work of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl and Maya Rudolph.
Looking for some good documentaries? Set in Syria during March 2011, The War Show follows radio host Obaidah Zytoon with other artists and activists who began filming their lives as they joined the protests against the oppressive regime.
Gun Runners tells the narrative of two criminals who then became marathon runners. These events in Kenya are told from these two men’s point-of-view as they’re surrounded by corruption, mistrust and jealousy while keeping their lives free of crime.
You can also bring the cinema right into your home with Netflix streaming choices including The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) starring Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller and Emma Thompson and I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. starring Elijah Wood.
Other notable dramas include The Only Living Boy in New York starring Callum Turner, Kate Beckinsale and Pierce Brosnan plus Victoria and Abdul, The Lost City of Z and Stronger, which is based on a true story of the recovery of one of the people injured in the Boston Marathon bombing.
The comedy Girls’ Trip will follow four good friends on a trip to a festival in New Orleans. Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah, Kate Walsh, and Regina Hall star. The romantic comedy The Big Sick stars Kimail Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan as the budding couple Kimail and Emily. Judd Aptow produces while Ray Romano and Holly Hunter co-star as Emily’s parents. Also, Reese Witherspoon headlines the romantic comedy Home Again.
Action-adventure seekers will find Wonder Woman, DC Comics/Warner Brothers’ fourth film in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film series) where Gal Gadot headlines as Diana Prince in Wonder Woman after initially appearing in the second DCEU film, the 2016 Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Ultimate Edition). This great origin story is mainly set in 1918 during World War I as the story takes hold on the hidden Amazon island of Themyscira. Diana displays this society’s warrior ways and yields unique weapons like the Lasso of Hestia that compels people to tell the truth as well as a shield, uniquely indestructible armor on her forearms, mid-section and leg calves and a special sword. You can also check out the DC Universe 10th Anniversary Collection.
In Dunkirk, filmmaker extraordinaire Christopher Nolan honors the incredible World War II events on the northern coast of France and nearby English Channel between May 26 and June 4 in 1940. Endless Allied troops seek escape from surrounding Axis forces as Nolan presents three plotlines set in the air, sea and land with varying timespans.
Based on a true story, Megan Leavey stars Kate Mara as the featured character, a Marine who bonds with her dog Rex in the special K-9 unit that detects and defuses bombs in Iraq.
Resistance is set in 1944 and is based on the Owen Sheers novel. This film features a fictional World War II scenario after the German Axis forces win the famous D-Day Invasion and advance on Europe from the north and west. Sheers also co-wrote the screenplay with director/co-screenwriter Amit Gupta. With several German language sequences, the filmmakers tackle an interesting premise to tell the story of a patrolling German soldier group, sent ahead of the main German army, as they settle in the small Welsh village of Olchon. As the soldiers learn to co-exist with the villagers, they are tasked with a special side mission.
Set in New York City, a 15-year-old Peter Parker, well played by Tom Holland, experiences new heroics as the web slinging Spider-Man when he pits his strengths against The Vulture (a.k.a. Adrian Toomes), well played by Michael Keaton, in Spider-Man: Homecoming. This sixth film in the Spider-Man film series comes 15 years after the first, 2002’s Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire as Spidey (Andrew Garfield was in this role in the two previous films), the friendly neighborhood superhero created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The 21 year-old Holland gets a long time to grow into his role with at least three more appearances coming.
The War of the Planet of Apes is the third installment in the new action, sci-fi film series features Andy Serkis as Caesar, Toby Kebbell as Koba and Judy Greer as Cornelia with new characters played by Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn and newcomer Amiah Miller. The Planet of the Apes trilogy set is also available.
The crime thriller Baby Driver has director Edgar Wright at the helm with Ansel Elgort in a star making role as a getaway driver who really likes his music. Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza González and Lily James also star.
Logan Lucky features director Steven Soderburgh’s return to feature film directing in this racing crime caper starring Channing Tatum, Adam Driver (Star Wars – Episode VII: The Force Awakens), Daniel Craig, Katherine Waterson, Riley Keough, Seth MacFarlane, Sebastian Stan (Captain America: Civil War) and Katie Holmes.
In John Wick: Chapter 2, someone makes the mistake of crossing expert hitman John Wick, well played by Keanu Reeves, and once again, as the audience journeys with Wick through his universe filled with professional killers and high profile crime moguls.
Director David Leitch (John Wick) showcases amazing stuntwork as Charlize Theron continues her blockbuster streak as the undercover special agent Lorraine Broughton in the Cold War spy film Atomic Blonde. Set mainly in Berlin during 1989 at the end of the Cold War, Theron is the worthy centerpiece that focuses on action, intelligence and the spy world.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle stars Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, with Elton John and Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges and includes over two hours of brand new bonus content.
Other action titles include the 25th anniversary of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, American Assassin, Wind River, The Foreigner, Logan and Killing Gunther starring Arnold Schwarzegger as a world class assassin everyone is gunning for.
Quality television series sets include season 1 of The Crown, This is Us: Season One and PBS’ The Vietnam War: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, House M.D. The Complete Collection and The Simpsons: Season 18.
The adaptation of Steven King’s The Dark Tower starring Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black and Idris Elba as the Gunslinger. Tom Cruise stars in The Mummy reboot as Universal Studios begins their new Universal Monsters franchise. Sofia Boutella will also star as the ancient princess Ahmanet along with Annabelle Wallis as Jenny and Russell Crowe…as Dr. Henry Jekyll. You can also have a Harry Potter marathon with the 8-Film Collection.
Great music home video offerings include Pearl Jam: Let’s Play Two, Hans Zimmer: Live in Prague, Black Sabbath: The End, and Sting Live at Olympia Paris that features a special 4-piece band including his longtime guitarist, Dominic Miller, Josh Freese (drums), Rufus Miller (guitar) and Percy Cardona (accordion) with backing vocals from Joe Sumner plus Diego Navaira & Jerry Fuentes of The Last Bandoleros.
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