Here are this week's hottest home video releases:
Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them
J.K. Rowling continues to expand her "Harry Potter" mythos by shifting the time and setting to the early 20th century U.S. There, enterprising field researcher and author Newt Scamander (Freddie Highmore) explores the stateside wizarding community and unearths a dark threat. While the new film captures the look and magic of "Harry Potter," it struggles to match that franchise's pacing because so much of the focus in the new film is on introducing new characters and creatures. The movie is still well worth a look for Potterheads. The Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo includes several featurettes on the film's characters, creatures and design, as well as 11 deleted scenes.
Planet Earth II
A sweeping, 6-hour documentary series searches out the world for intimate looks at animal and insect ecosystems in various corners of the earth. Somehow matching, and in many ways surpassing, the 2006 original, the new film provides incredible aerial, microscopic and night-vision glances into the planet's hidden realms. Although light on extras and lacking a digital copy, the set is worth buying rather than renting due to its timelessness, rewatchability and sheer entertainment factor.
Martin Scorsese is one of filmdom's great masters, but he tends to weigh down his pacing and storytelling urgency when he tackles religious subject matter. Just as with "Kundun" in 1997, he falls into the same trap here, telling an important but painfully slow story about Catholic missionaries traveling in Japan during a time when the religion is outlawed and punishable by death. Adam Driver, Andrew Garfield and Liam Neeson all turn in solid performances, helping to salvage the slog. Extras in the Blu-ray/digital copy combo include a featurette about Scorsese's research and path to bringing the film to life.
20th Century Women
Direcor Mike Mills ("Thumbsucker") rounds up the impressive ensemble of Annette Bening, Elle Faning, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup and Lucas Jade to tell a low-key coming-of-age tale about a single mother struggling to raise her teenage son with the help of an artist and a teen neighbor. The unconventional family weathers life's trials and disappointments together, forming a strong core that thrives on gallows humor. The overlooked drama was one of the unsung bright spots of 2016. The Blu-ray/digital copy combo features Mills' commentary and two making-of featurettes.
After a long string of serious films, Bryan Cranston shows off his versatility in this wildly funny comedy. He plays the straight man to James Franco's wildchild character, a Silicon Valley billionaire who is romancing the Cranston character's college daughter (Zoey Deutch). Director John Hamburg resurrects some of his "Meet the Parents" magic, executing one deliciously awkward scene after the next, keeping the laughs rolling throughout. Extras in the Blu-ray/DVD/digital copy combo include several entertaining looks at various aspects of the filmmaking process. There is also a filmmaker commentary track led by Hamburg, a photo gallery and deleted scenes.
Studios provided review screeners.