In our post-Game of Thrones world, there’s a dragon void in pop culture. Fortunately, the family-friendly firebreathers of How to Train Your Dragon are here to step in with the final film in that franchise. Other worthwhile new titles include several favorites from the Warner Archive Collection, a recent game-changing romcom, the latest adaptation of Victor Hugo’s masterwork, and more. With Memorial Day weekend swiftly approaching, you’ll want to watch some great films, and we’ve got you covered. Take a look!
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World
The third and final chapter in the computer-animated film series finds the Viking island of Berk becoming overpopulated with dragons. Now, Berk’s leader, Hiccup, his faithful dragon pal, Toothless, and the rest of the Berkians must locate the Hidden World, a land where the beasts will be safe. Their mission is made more perilous, however, by Grimmel the Grisly, a ruthless hunter using a female dragon to trap Toothless. Features the voices of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Cate Blanchett, and F. Murray Abraham.
That bad cat John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) investigates an old friend’s murder, only to find that $200,000 of the dead man’s cash set aside to pay off his mob debts has gone missing…and that two rival factions of gangsters are willing to blow Harlem apart to get their hands on it. Thrilling chases, exciting shootouts, and lively music highlight the second outing in the “Shaft” series; Moses Gunn and Drew Bundini Brown, as well as director Gordon Parks and screenwriter Ernest Tidyman, return.
Richard Roundtree’s third and final big-screen go-round as John Shaft finds the detective earning his pay way, way out of Harlem, when an Ethiopian emir hires him to go undercover as a tribesman and bring down the modern-day European slavery ring that killed his son. With coaching from the noble’s beautiful daughter (Vonetta McGee), can he destroy the racket and its ruthless head (Frank Finlay) from within? Debebe Eshetu, Frank McRae also star.
Freshly arrived in New York, small-town girl Letty Lawson (Madge Evans) finagled a beautician’s job at the exclusive salon of Madame Sonia Barton (Hedda Hopper). All warnings to keep a safe distance from the upper-class clientele, though, proved useless when the husband (Otto Kruger) of a haughty patron (Alice Brady) started showing his interest. Pre-Code potboiler adapted from Faith Baldwin’s “Beauty” co-stars Una Merkel, May Robson, Phillips Holmes, Edward Nugent, Florine McKinney.
Rival correspondents Patricia Booth (Madge Evans) and Kenneth Stevens (Edmund Lowe) each cadged passage on the Orient Express out of Paris, looking for the lowdown on the furtive travels of munitions magnate Anton Kronsky (Paul Lukas). Partnering while being coy about their respective identities and agendas, the race to the scoop becomes one for their lives, courtesy of a hidden assassin targeting Kronsky. Second-bill thriller co-stars Ketti Gallian, Skeets Gallagher, Leonid Kinskey.
When Manhattan journalism tycoon Aaron Lampier (Charley Grapewin) and his grown children receive death threats, he tasks his current attorney and onetime crime beat reporter Ernie Hyams (Bruce Cabot) with the safeguarding of his daughter Lorraine (Margaret Lindsay) and flushing out who’s behind the intimidation. As the Lampier clan gets picked off, will he make good on either job? Crackling whodunit programmer co-stars Stanley Ridges, Joseph Calleia, Vivienne Osborne, George Lynn.
Taut British crime drama, directed by a pre-“Bullitt” Peter Yates, offers up a fictionalized account of the 1963 Great Train Robbery. Professional thief Paul Clifton (Stanley Baker) puts together a crew to rob a Royal Mail train on its way from Glasgow to London. The carefully planned job is a success, but Inspector George Langdon (James Booth)–who’s been tracking Clifton since a recent jewel heist–is determined to catch the crooks. With Joanna Pettet, Frank Finlay, Barry Foster.
Though having made his legend on the dirt tracks of Alabama, retired stock car racer Sam Munroe (John Travolta) didn’t know when to ease off of his son and protégé Cam (Toby Sebastian)…and their latest and most explosive blow-up found the kid walking out and signing on with his dad’s despised rival (Michael Madsen). Forced back behind the wheel to keep his team afloat, can Sam patch things up before there’s no turning around? Shania Twain, Kevin Dunn, Barry Corbin, Buck Taylor co-star.
The Public Defender: The Official First Season
Reed Hadley, best known for his stint in “Racket Squad,” plays Bart Matthews, an attorney whose clients are destitute and unable to afford their own lawyer. The focus of the program, which ran on CBS from 1954 to 1955, were falsely accused people whom Matthews defended. Guest stars included Charles Bronson, James Gleason, Richard Jaeckel, Richard Deacon. All 26 episodes from the first season are included in this three-disc set.
The Perfect Bride: Wedding Bells
After their wedding venue reserves the wrong date, Nick and Molly have six weeks to plan the wedding of their dreams. Things get even more complicated when Steven, who once left Molly at the altar, comes back into her life with a business offer. Hayley Sales, Kerry James, Lane Edwards star.
It’s hardly newsworthy that beautiful, glamorous, and popular Los Angeles TV anchorwoman Jamie Douglas (Morgan Fairchild) is the object of affection of more than a few male admirers. But when photographer Derek’s (Andrew Stevens) feelings for Jamie aren’t reciprocated, he becomes a psychotic stalker who is not only dangerously obsessed with being with her, he’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. Intense and erotic suspenser also stars Michael Sarrazin, Vince Edwards, Colleen Camp.
Having taken a Mediterranean cruise ship bound for Istanbul, Britishers Nigel Dobson (Hugh Grant) was hoping to strike some kind of spark in his staid union with wife Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas). He’d find more than he could deal with as he encountered a mysterious beauty (Emmanuelle Seigner) and her quadriplegic husband (Peter Coyote), whose candor about their sadomasochistic relationship would lead all down a dangerous path. Roman Polanski’s ultra-kinky drama co-stars Victor Banerjee.
In his moribund Western Pennsylvania factory town, mildly autistic sanitation driver Donny Devlin (Andrew Scott) usually put in an honest day’s work without incident. After an always-friendly local kid went missing, however, Donny began to fixate upon investigating the matter himself…and found himself on the end of perilous pushback from some inexplicably skittish townies. Intriguing U.S.-shot effort from a U.K. crew also stars Bronagh Waugh, Denise Gough, J.D. Evermore, Catherine Dyer.
Let the Sunshine In (Criterion Collection)
Middle-aged, recently divorced Parisian artist Isabelle (Juliette Binoche) yearns for nothing as much as a fulfilling romantic relationship, but as a string of flawed and disappointing lovers rotate through her life and boudoir, that which she desires most might prove to forever elude her. Dark yet affecting rumination on love and pain from Claire Denis also stars Xavier Beauvois, Nicolas Duvauchelle, Alex Descas, Paul Blain, and Gérard Depardieu.
Rebel Wilson stars as Natalie, an Australian architect struggling to make it in New York City. Knocked out cold while escaping a mugger, she wakes up in an alternate reality that plays like a frothy romantic comedy–which she hates. Suddenly successful with a handsome boyfriend (Liam Hemsworth), can Natalie figure out how to make it back to the real world? Adam Devine, Priyanka Chopra, Betty Gilpin co-star in this clever comedic fantasy that skewers just about every rom-com cliché.
Sturdy and nuanced “Masterpiece” miniseries take on the Victor Hugo classic spearheaded by Dominic West as Jean Valjean, the former prisoner seeking a quiet and redemptive life, and David Oyelowo as Javert, the monomaniacal gendarme dogging his steps. The remarkable supporting cast includes Lily Collins as Fantine, Olivia Colman and Adeel Akhtar as the Thénardiers, Ellie Bamber as Cosette, Josh O’Connor as Marius, David Bradley as Gillenormand, and Derek Jacobi as Bishop Myriel.
Earthquake (Collector’s Edition)
A catastrophic earthquake rips through southern California, leveling Los Angeles and sending shockwaves through the lives of those who live there and fight to survive the chaos, including a construction engineer (Charlton Heston), whose break from his wife (Ava Gardner) sends him into the arms of another woman (Geneviève Bujold). The film’s wild effects were enhanced in theaters equipped with the low-frequency rumbles of “Sensurround.” Lorne Greene, George Kennedy, and Victoria Principal co-star. This collector’s edition includes both the theatrical and TV versions of the film.
Click here for a complete overview of all of this week’s new releases!