By Jay Bobbin
Tribune Media Services
STARTING THIS WEEK: “WAITING FOR ‘SUPERMAN’ “: Director and co-writer Davis Guggenheim’s acclaimed documentary examines the current state of the U.S. public education system as mirrored by the experiences of five youngsters who have run into hurdles in the pursuit of advancing their learning. The film shows not just what is but what could be, a fact that prompted much conversation about the ideas posed by Guggenheim and his collaborators. John Legend is featured on the soundtrack. DVD extras: three “making-of” documentaries; audio commentary by Guggenheim and producer Lesley Chilcott; deleted scenes; conversation with Guggenheim. **** (PG: AS, P) (Also on Blu-ray)
“UNSTOPPABLE”: Denzel Washington has worked several times with action-specialist director Tony Scott (“Crimson Tide,” “Man on Fire”), and they reteam on this effective, fact-inspired thriller that puts fresh spins on a time-tested premise of a train that’s out of control. Washington plays an experienced engineer who’s training a newcomer (Chris Pine, “Star Trek”) when they become the only hope of stopping a toxic-chemical-laden locomotive hurtling toward a town and its populace. Rosario Dawson also stars. *** (PG-13: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
“THE FUGITIVE: THE FOURTH AND FINAL SEASON, VOL. 2”: For a prime example of how to end a television series and reward loyal viewers appropriately, the episode that caps this collection – which remains one of the most-viewed hours in the medium’s history – is just that. Dr. Richard Kimble’s (David Janssen) quest to clear himself of having killed his wife reaches his ultimate moment, as he finds the elusive one-armed man (Bill Raisch) and has a tense showdown, as relentless pursuer Lt. Gerard (Barry Morse) watches. This ABC drama did much to cement the home-screen dynasty of executive producer Quinn Martin. **** (Not rated: AS, V)
“GLORIOUS 39”: The number refers to the year in which this drama, involving several key figures of World War II, unfolds. Romola Garai (“Atonement”) plays a rising actress who’s part of a political British family … and also an amateur sleuth, following the death of a dinner guest (David Tennant) who didn’t make very positive statements about world affairs of the time. As she probes deeper, she puts others in danger, herself included; Bill Nighy, Julie Christie, Hugh Bonneville, Jeremy Northam, Eddie Redmayne and Christopher Lee also are in the impressive cast. *** (R: P, V) (Also on Blu-ray)
COMING SOON: “DUE DATE” (Feb. 22): Anxious to reach his wife before she gives birth, a man (Robert Downey Jr.) accepts a cross-country ride from a questionable traveling companion (Zach Galifianakis). (R: AS, P)
“MEGAMIND” (Feb. 25): Will Ferrell voices the title villain, who doesn’t know quite what to do with himself after he vanquishes the hero (voice of Brad Pitt) who opposed him, in this animated fantasy. Tina Fey also is heard. (PG: AS, P)
“JACKASS 3” (March 8): Shown in theaters in 3-D – which is on some of the video editions, too – the latest feature-film spinoff of the MTV prank fest features Johnny Knoxville and the usual gang. (R and unrated versions: AS, N, P)
“MAD MEN: SEASON FOUR” (March 29): In the most recent round of the acclaimed AMC drama series, 1960s advertising man Don Draper (Jon Hamm) suffers setbacks on both the personal and professional fronts. (Not rated: AS, P)
FAMILY-VIEWING GUIDE KEY: AS, adult situations; N, nudity; P, profanity; V, violence; GV, particularly graphic violence.
This article was printed in the February 13, 2011 – February 26, 2011.