Picks of the Week
(PG-13, 131 minutes, Paramount): Presumably taking a long, self-indulgent glance at his What Would Clint Do? bracelet, Tom Cruise takes on the iconic role of surly vigilante in “Jack Reacher,” resulting in a mismatch of wincingly epic proportions.
This movie is designed primarily to put its leading man in as many cliched, macho postures as possible, whether it’s crouched behind the wheel of a lipstick-red vintage Chevelle or popping off perfect shots in a ballistic showdown.
“I’m just a guy who wants to be left alone” is just one eye-roller of a catchphrase uttered by Cruise, whose character is a laconic Iraq war veteran summoned by the aforementioned shooter to exonerate him for mass murder.
Working in cahoots with a beautiful defense attorney, Helen (Rosamund Pike), Reacher is a supposedly reluctant hero. But with his penchant for grandstanding it’s difficult to imagine him turning down any opportunity to show off a nearly bottomless — and increasingly monotonous — store of Cool Guy-approved skills. He even brings a knife to a gun fight and manages to win.
Contains profanity and some drug material.
Extras: None on DVD. On Blu-ray: commentary by Cruise and director Christopher McQuarrie, commentary by composer Joe Kraemer, behind-the-scenes featurette, combat and weapons featurette and a look at “The Reacher Phenomenon.”
(PG-13, 115 minutes, 20th Century Fox): Hoping to re-bottle the lightning captured in “The Notebook” and “Dear John,” romance packager Nicholas Sparks has given his usual formula some sharp edges in “Safe Haven.”
The film opens like a gritty thriller, complete with a taut chase through a crowded bus station and a few smidgens of blood.
Soon enough, Katie (Julianne Hough) has fetched up in the quaint North Carolina town of Southport, where Sparks’ fantasy of self-reinvention takes place. Quiet and wary, Katie still has elbows sharp enough to keep curious neighbors at bay, at least until an appealing widower named Alex (Josh Duhamel) charms his way past her chilly reserve.
Their chance encounters and cautious romantic toe-dipping add up to little more than a pretty bore.
Contains thematic material, sexuality, threatening behavior and violence.
Extras: deleted and extended scenes, alternate ending. Also, on Blu-ray: a set tour, Duhamel’s “Lessons in Crabbing” and “Igniting the Romance in Safe Haven” featurette.
(PG-13, 100 minutes, Universal): Mama the CGI ghoul is scary as heck. “Mama” the movie isn’t.
Jeff has murdered his wife and taken his two little girls to the woods, where he intends to kill them. But he is dispatched by a ghostlike entity. Fast-forward five years, to when Victoria and her little sister, Lilly, are found, filthy and feral. Eventually, they’re taken in by Jeff’s slacker brother, Lucas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and his girlfriend, Annabel (Jessica Chastain).
A child psychologist suggests that Mama might not actually exist but is a dissociative projection of the older girl. But every time he or someone else in the film hints that Mama might be something other than an actual, factual bogeyman, the film reminds us that she’s very, very real. And admittedly, she is pretty creepy.
Contains violent, scary images and thematic elements.
Extras: commentary with director/co-writer Andy Muschietti and producer/co-writer Barbara Muschietti; original short; making-of featurette, deleted scenes. Also, on Blu-ray: “Matriarchal Secrets” special effects featurette. The Washington Post
“Broadway Musicals: A Jewish Legacy” (PBS documentary includes 16-page viewer’s guide and bonus disc with additional interview clips and performances, Acorn Media)
“Witness: A World in Conflict Through a Lens” (four-part HBO documentary series)
“The Henry Fonda Film Collection”
“Steel Magnolias” (Lifetime made-for-TV remake)
“30 Rock: Season Seven”
“Private Practice: The Complete Sixth Season”
“Doc McStuffins: Time for Your Check Up” (Disney Junior animated TV series )