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Cokeville, Cinderella, Furious 7 on Blu-ray and DVD this week
A group of children gather to pray while being held hostage in the true story "The Cokeville Miracle," a new locally made faith film now on Blu-ray and DVD. - photo by Chris Hicks
Lots of major-studio films are on Blu-ray and DVD this week, but the best of the lot is The Cokeville Miracle, a locally made faith film.

The Cokeville Miracle (Excel/Blu-ray/DVD, 2015, PG-13, audio commentary, featurettes). Local moviemaker T.C. Christensens powerful film relates the true story of how deluded, self-proclaimed genius David Young (Nathan Stevens) took guns and a gasoline bomb into a Cokeville, Wyoming, elementary school in 1986. There, he terrorized some 150 children and faculty for hours before the bomb went off, leading to a violent conclusion.

That essentially sums up the first hour or so, which is tense and frightening and quite compelling. But its what happens next that sets Cokeville apart from other kids-in-peril movies. During the days that follow, the children begin to independently and hesitantly tell stories of angels protecting them during the crisis, and the films emotional impact really kicks in.

Christensen takes a matter-of-fact approach, allowing us to get to know several characters as he lays out the storys foundation. He has always been good with children, and their performances here are quite natural. The result is a faith film that deserves to be ranked with the best of the genre, one that should be able to reach a wide audience in this DVD/Blu-ray release.

For comparisons sake I recently watched the 1994 CBS-TV movie To Save the Children, with Richard Thomas as Young and Robert Urich as a teacher. Its not a bad retelling of the same story but the ending feels flat, especially after watching Cokeville. The revelations by the children about their spiritual encounters are essential; without them its akin to turning off the movie before its over. (The featurettes and Christensens audio commentary also offer some nice insights.)

Cinderella (Disney/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015, PG, alternate opening, featurettes, cartoon: Frozen Fever). Disney hit it big (No. 6 on the box-office chart) with this live-action version of one of the studios most beloved cartoon features. Kenneth Branagh directs with a light touch and liberal dollops of humor, though its essentially told straight. Lily James stars in the title role, Cate Blanchett stands out as her stepmother, and Stellan Skarsgard, Helena Bonham Carter and Derek Jacobi co-star.

Love & Mercy (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/On Demand, 2015, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Compelling show-biz biography with Paul Dano excellent as troubled Brian Wilson during the formation of the Beach Boys in the 1960s and John Cusack as the older, heavily medicated Wilson when he was under the thumb of megalomaniac psychotherapist Eugene Landy (Paul Giamatti). Elizabeth Banks also shines as the independent woman who comes into Wilsons life late and tries to save him. And all those great songs certainly help.

The Age of Adaline (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, PG-13, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Interesting but curiously aloof story of a woman (Blake Lively) who, after being struck by lightning, never ages, sending her through the decades with a fear of falling in love. Enormous plot holes are never addressed, but Lively is charming, and the film gets a boost from key supporting performances by Ellen Burstyn and Harrison Ford.

Furious 7 (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015, PG-13, extended and theatrical versions, deleted scenes, featurettes, music video). Forget laws of physics, turn off your brain and just accept this action sequel on its own terms as the Smokey and the Bandit of the Internet age and youll have a good time. A surprise hit, this one went on to become the fourth biggest moneymaker of the year. (The extended version, by the way, is a scant two minutes longer.)

Queen and Country (BBC/DVD, 2015, not rated, featurette). Belated sequel to John Boormans fictionalized autobiographical 1987 film Hope and Glory, about a young boy and his family surviving the early years of World War II when London was heavily bombed. This film leans more toward comedy as it brings the character 10 years forward, joining the British army just in time for the Korean War. Richard E. Grant and David Thewlis play largely comic authority figures.

Monkey Kingdom (Disneynature/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015, G, featurettes, music video). This years seriocomic Earth Day documentary from Disney focuses on Maya, a resourceful monkey living in ancient ruins of a South Asia jungle.

The Seven Five (Sundance Selects/DVD, 2015; R for violent images, language, drugs). Documentary about New York cop Michael Dowd, who brazenly led a crew of crooked cops in Brooklyn during the late 1980s and early 90s as they protected some drug dealers and robbed others while lining their own pockets.

American Heist (Lionsgate/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015; R for violence, language, sex, drugs; featurette). Two brothers, one fresh out of prison (Adrien Brody) and the other trying to turn his life around (Hayden Christensen) decide to pull one last heist. What could go wrong? Jordana Brewster co-stars.

Closer to the Moon (Sundance Selects/DVD, 2015, not rated). Vera Farmiga and Mark Strong star in this comedy-drama, a bizarre-but-true story of Jewish intellectuals in 1959 Romania who rob a bank, are caught, convicted and sentenced to death, then are forced to re-enact the crime for a propaganda film. (Not rated but with R-level content.)

Nightingale (HBO/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015, not rated). David Oyelowo (Selma) shines in this actors vehicle, a stagey, one-character, one-set drama from HBO (with the expected R-rated language) as a military veteran having a major meltdown, video blogging and taking phone calls after hes done something horrific.

Reality (IFC/Shout!/Blu-ray/DVD, 2015, not rated, in English and in French with English subtitles). Strange show-biz satire about a cameraman (Alain Chabat) who wants to make his own film, so a producer tells him hell fund the project if the filmmaker-wannabe can find the perfect groan for the soundtrack. Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) shows up as a TV chef in a rat costume. (Not rated but with R-rated language.)

The Editor (Scream/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2015, not rated, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes). Heres another show-biz spoof, this one filmed in the style of 1970s and 80s Italian horror films. A disabled film editor becomes the No. 1 suspect when actors in the movie hes assembling are murdered. (Not rated but with R-level content.)

Paranormal Island (Cinedigm/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated). Idiot teens head to a party-hardy island after landing jobs as bartenders, and one wants to expose ghostly rumors as a hoax. Lance Henriksen tries to warn them, but do they listen? (Not rated but R-level content.)