By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Into the Woods, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Unbroken on Blu-ray, DVD
Meryl Streep terrorizes James Corden in the film version of "Into the Woods," now on Blu-ray and DVD. - photo by Chris Hicks
Three films that opened to great success during the recent Christmas season lead new movies on Blu-ray and DVD this week.

Into the Woods (Disney/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG, deleted song, audio commentary, featurettes, song-segments access, Easter eggs, trailers). Being familiar with the stage show, I have to confess to initially being a bit wary of this movie adaptation by Disney, but those fears quickly went by the wayside as Stephen Sondheims satire of fairy tales got underway. Not to say there arent changes; there are. But nothing egregious.

For the uninitiated, this is a dark (not for young children) musical adaptation of intertwined versions of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel, with great songs, some of them very funny, and a bevy of terrific performances by Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Chris Pine, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski and Johnny Depp, among others.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (Warner/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, featurettes, music video, trailers). This third in Peter Jacksons Hobbit trilogy (from J.R.R. Tolkiens thin book, which you could finish reading before the first film is over) is a satisfactory conclusion to the epic tale, though after the dragon Smaug is taken care of, its an awful lot of warring and it may have you wondering when a live-action film with this much computer animation crosses over into the cartoon category.

Unbroken (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital/On Demand, 2014, PG-13, deleted scenes, featurettes, trailers). Angelina Jolie directed this true story (based on Laura Hillenbrands book) about Olympic athlete and World War II hero Louie Zamperini (well played by Jack OConnell), who suffered horrifying torture at the hands of his Japanese captors in POW camps after surviving 47 days on a lifeboat. Worth seeing, though some of the torture seems to go on forever, and its a cheat not to depict his rehabilitation after the war (although a six-minute Blu-ray featurette fills in some gaps).

A MusiCares Tribute to Paul McCartney (Shout!/Blu-ray/DVD, 2015, not rated). This is a 2012 benefit concert honoring McCartney and is sponsored by MusiCares, a charity fund for musicians (which receives part of each discs proceeds). The former Beatle performs, and other stars cover his solo and Beatles songs, including Alicia Keys, Alison Krauss, Duane Eddy, Norah Jones, Neil Young, Sergio Mendes, Coldplay, James Taylor, Diana Krall, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh.

Song One (Cinedigm/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015, PG-13, deleted scenes, featurette, trailer). Anne Hathaway co-produced and stars in this musical drama about a woman whose estranged musician-brother is in a coma after a car accident, prompting her to seek out his favorite musician (Johnny Flynn) in New Yorks nightclub scene and get him to sing at her brothers bedside. Romance ensues.

Grace. (eOne/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated, deleted/extended scenes). Yes, that period in Grace. is part of the films title. Annika Marks stars as a young alcoholic that wakes up 1,100 miles from home in a small Florida beachside town and finds herself charged with public drunkenness. Shes sentenced to six months in jail or 90 AA meetings, but she must do the latter in this same town, which brings her into contact with locals who have their own demons (including Sharon Lawrence).

A Second Chance: The Janelle Morrison Story (MVD/DVD, 2015, not rated). Janelle Morrison, a professional long-distance triathlete, is in a medically induced coma after nearly dying in a horrific car accident. It doesnt look good as her organs have shifted within her and nearly every major bone is broken. But, as chronicled in this documentary, her spirit is more than willing and with surgery and hard work she makes a remarkable recovery, heading back into competition two years later.

Confessions of a Prodigal Son (Cinedigm/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated). Modern-day interpretation of the biblical story of the prodigal son stars Kevin Sorbo as a pastor whose son (Nathan Clarkson) goes to college and aggressively puts his Christian upbringing behind him. The lads best friend encourages his bad choices but a professor who challenges him and a woman he begins dating cause him to rethink his path.

Lonesome Dove Church (Lionsgate/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated, featurette). Loosely based on the real-life establishment of the Lonesome Dove Church in Grapevine, Texas, circa 1846, this is another variation on the biblical prodigal son story. Tom Berenger is a preacher who discovers his son is accused of robbery and murder, so he tracks him down to bring him back to the fold.

Diamond Heist (aka Magic Boys, Cinedigm/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated). Vinnie Jones and Michael Madsen get top billing in this B-movie comic thriller about a pair of Hungarian nitwits that witness a murder, go into hiding by taking jobs as male strippers in London and become involved in a diamond-smuggling operation. Oh, and theres also a setup by someone looking to expose a killer.

Three Night Stand (Monarch/DVD, 2015, not rated). A married couple (Sam Huntington, Meaghan Rath) heads for a weekend away at a mountain lodge, only to discover that the husbands old girlfriend (Emmanuelle Chriqui) is running the place. And hes still got a thing for her, although hes awkwardly trying to keep that from his wife.

Memory Lane (WildEye/DVD, 2015, not rated, deleted scenes, audio commentary, short films, featurettes, trailers). Low-budget sci-fi/horror thriller cribs from Flatliners, among other familiar films, with the story of a war vet whose new girlfriend commits suicide, prompting him to do the same. But a near-death experience suggests to him that his girlfriend may have been murdered.

Monster High: Haunted (Universal/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital, 2015, not rated, two webisodes: Lochness Lorna, Sayonara Draculaura). The latest straight-to-video feature (76 minutes) to spin-off of the Nickelodeon cartoon series (based on Mattels doll line) is this story of the gouls of Monster High School getting in and out of trouble at an all-spirit school called Ghost World.