By Jay Bobbin
Tribune Media Services
STARTING THIS WEEK: "SECRETARIAT": The horse that galvanized the racing world in the early 1970s gets reverent Disney-studio treatment in this drama, well-directed by Randall Wallace, the screenwriter of "Braveheart." Diane Lane gives a fine performance as Penny Chenery, who became Secretariat's owner and defied doubts about her potential - and the animal's - to triumph. John Malkovich plays the trainer who does much to advance her quest. Scott Glenn, Dylan Walsh, Dylan Baker and James Cromwell also star. DVD extras: "making-of" documentary; deleted scenes; music video. *** (PG: P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"RED": Bruce Willis certainly is no stranger to action tales, but much of the fun of this comic-book adaptation is in seeing some other veteran performers - namely, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman and John Malkovich - play tough. All of the performers play ex-CIA operatives who reunite to defend themselves against assassins sent to make sure they never reveal secrets from their spying days. Mary-Louise Parker ("Weeds") plays a former Willis flame reluctantly drawn into the mayhem. Richard Dreyfuss, Ernest Borgnine, Julian McMahon ("Nip/Tuck"), James Remar, Brian Cox and Karl Urban also appear. DVD extras: "making-of" documentary; audio commentary by ex-CIA agent Robert Baer; deleted and extended scenes. *** (PG-13: AS, P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
"SAW: THE FINAL CHAPTER": Titled "Saw 3D" in its recent theatrical run, this evidently is the last installment of the horror franchise that has prided itself on presenting unique forms of torture. An author (Sean Patrick Flanery) who says he's a survivor of the sinister Jigsaw (Tobin Bell, back in flashbacks) writes a book to cash in on that claim, angering some who really did survive; Costas Mandylor, Cary Elwes and Betsy Russell are among other returnees. DVD extras: theatrical trailer; audio commentary by crew members; deleted and extended scenes; music videos. ** (R: AS, P, GV) (Also on Blu-ray)
"NOWHERE BOY": Shortly after the 30th anniversary of his death, this drama recalls the younger years of John Lennon, who was destined to become one of modern music's genuine icons. As played here by Aaron Johnson, the Liverpool lad is at the crux of an emotional tug of war between his mother and his aunt (Kristin Scott Thomas, Anne-Marie Duff). He finds respite from his home problems in music, especially with the camaraderie of a fellow talent named Paul McCartney (Thomas Brodie Sangster, who played Liam Neeson's stepson in "Love Actually"). DVD extras: "making-of" documentary; deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"CLIENT 9: THE RISE AND FALL OF ELIOT SPITZER": The events that led the career of New York's former attorney general and governor - now a weeknight CNN host - to implode are recounted by writer-director Alex Gibney's documentary. The revelation of tough justice seeker Spitzer's ties to a prostitution ring, for which he was identified as "Client 9," marked the beginning of the end for him politically. Spitzer is interviewed himself, as are a number of his associates and opponents. DVD extras: audio commentary by Gibney; deleted scenes. *** (R: AS, N, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
"OPEN SEASON 3": The animated animals are at it again in this made-for-video sequel, as bear Boog goes off on his own and makes a "Prince and the Pauper"-style switch with a circus animal he resembles. Trouble arises when the troupe aims to return to Russia, with Boog unable to get away ... so it's up to his friends to spring him in time. The voice cast includes Steve Schirippa ("The Sopranos") and Crispin Glover. DVD extras: "making-of" documentary; game. *** (PG: AS) (Also on Blu-ray)
COMING SOON: "CONVICTION" (Feb. 1): Hilary Swank plays Betty Anne Waters, who spent years educating herself in the law to get her wrongly convicted brother (Sam Rockwell) released, in this true story. (R: AS, P, V)
"LET ME IN" (Feb. 1): A young vampire (Chloe Grace Moretz) becomes the protector of a harassed new friend (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in this revision of the Swedish thriller "Let the Right One In." (R: AS, P, GV)
"LIFE AS WE KNOW IT" (Feb. 8): Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel play mutual enemies appointed to be a baby's guardian after the child's parents die in an accident. (PG-13: AS, P)
"MY SOUL TO TAKE" (Feb. 8): Horror-director icon Wes Craven returns to the genre with the tale of a serial killer who has vowed to slay those who were born the night he supposedly died. Max Thieriot stars. (R: AS, P, GV)
"PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2" (Feb. 8): A prequel to the original thriller finds another family setting up camera equipment to catch supernatural forces at work in their home. Sprague Grayden stars. (R and unrated versions: AS, P, V)
"YOU AGAIN" (Feb. 8): An impending wedding forces two sets of rivals (Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver, Kristen Bell and Odette Yustman) together; Betty White also stars in the comedy. (PG: AS, P)
FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.
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