(PG-13, 133 minutes, MGM/Warner): Sylvester Stallone won a Golden Globe and is nominated for an Oscar for his reprisal of boxer Rocky Balboa, now training the son (Michael B. Jordan) of Rocky’s old rival-turned-ally, Apollo Creed, in this well-received film directed by Ryan Coogler (“Fruitvale Station”). It’s a touching, affectionate and undeniably thrilling continuation of the almost 40-year-old saga.
There are some viscerally powerful boxing scenes, but ultimately the flesh of “Creed” has almost as much to do with relationships. Both the friendship between Donny and Rocky, whom the young man endearingly calls “Unc,” and the shyly sweet romance that Donny embarks on with Bianca (Tessa Thompson), an aspiring musician who lives below him, are finely etched. The connections feel real and complicated. The themes of love, loyalty, ambition, honor and legacy that lend sinew to the story are delivered with such a clean punch that they as feel as fresh as they did in 1976.
Contains violence, crude language and sensuality. Extras: “Know the Past, Own the Future” featurette, “Becoming Adonis,” deleted scenes. Washington Post
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‘The Danish Girl’
(R, 120 minutes, Universal): Eddie Redmayne stars as Einar Wegener, a real-life artist in 1920s Copenhagen who with the help of his wife, Gerda (Alicia Vikander), transformed himself into the early transgender pioneer Lili Elbe. Nominated for four Oscars, including best actor and best supporting actress.
“The Danish Girl” is at its most affecting in the film’s second half, when Gerda and Lili seek desperately for guidance from the medical profession and come up at first against uncomprehending dead ends. The anguish they feel, and we feel for them, is so strong it can seem at times like we’re invading the couple’s privacy. That’s how intimate this story gets. Contains some sexuality and nudity. Extras: “The Making of The Danish Girl.” Los Angeles Times
(R, 118 minutes, Lionsgate): A kidnapped young woman (Brie Larson) being held captive in a small, windowless room tries to create as normal a life as possible for her 5-year-old son (Jacob Tremblay). Adapted from the 2010 novel of the same name by Emma Donoghue, who also wrote the screenplay. Even if you read the book and know the outcome, director Lenny Abrahamson will have you in his grip. The escape from Room is riveting, pulse-pounding. Amazingly, “Room” is a story of hope, of possibility. Sure, your stomach will be in knots, your fingers clenched, your heart racing. But it will also fill that heart with a sense of the goodness, the courage, the enduring love that is out there to be discovered – and to be held onto with the fierceness of life itself. Contains obscenity. Philadelphia Inquirer
‘The Night Before’
(R, 101 minutes, Sony): Childhood buddies played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen and Anthony Mackie get together for their annual – and possibly final – Christmas Eve reunion. It’s sort of astonishing that Rogen – undervalued, always, because he makes various forms and modes of comedy look so easy – can still wring laughs out of a character stoned/coked/’shroomed out of his gourd, pretending to be under control even as he’s sweating up a storm and mugging like the lost Ritz Brother.
Contains graphic nudity, strong language, sexual situations and drug use. Extras: Cast gag reel, “Making One Epic Party: 20 Minutes of On-Set Shenanigans,” four featurettes: “The Spirit of Christmas,” “Drunkest Santas on The Block,” “Whale Juice: Extended Strip Club Scene,” “Midnight Mass with Nana.” Blu-ray: Deleted & extended scenes, Mr. Green Line-O Rama, “Christmas in the Summer” featurette. Chicago Tribune
Also out March 1
- “The Boy”
- “Capture the Flag”
- “Don Verdean”
- “Dudes & Dragons”
- “God’s Club”
- “Lost in Hong Kong”
- “The Midnight Man”
- “Miss You Already”
- “Sesame Street: The Cookie Thief”
- “She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry”
- “The Americans Season 3”
- “Childhood’s End”
- “The Fall, Series 2”
- “The Unauthorized Collection 4-Film Set”