"Rush" is so solidly entertaining that it can make someone who is clueless about racing care about a '70s rivalry between disciplined Austrian Niki Lauda and charming English playboy James Hunt.
The credit goes to, for starters, actors Daniel Bruhl and Chris Hemsworth as the respective leads, director Ron Howard and writer Peter Morgan,
The story introduces the men in 1970 and follows them to the fateful 1976 season and chase for the F1 title.
Hunt is a sexy, blond-haired partier who proves virtually irresistible to women and who seems impervious to pressure, until he vomits before a race or nervously flicks his lighter open and closed and open and closed. The disciplined, humorless Lauda, meanwhile, sees happiness as the enemy because "it weakens you" and gives you something to lose.
Both men have something -- their lives, their loves (portrayed by Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Maria Lara), their cars, their ambition -- to lose, making "Rush" about more than just a chase to the finish line and world championship.
Tiny cameras hidden by the engine blocks or positioned on helmets help put moviegoers into the action, and you can almost feel the vibration.
DVD extras include "Ron Howard: A Director's Approach." Blu-ray has a six-part making-of featurette on the screenplay, the leads, filming Formula 1 racing action, 1970s fashion and "Around the World in One Location."
Rated R for sexual content, nudity, language, some disturbing images and brief drug use.
"Last Vegas" is "The Hangover: The Golden Years."
It's notable for uniting actors who have, among them, six Oscars and 15 nominations.
Playing former boyhood pals known as the Flatbush Four are Robert De Niro as Paddy, a reclusive Brooklyn widower; Morgan Freeman as Archie, a New Jerseyan who lives with his overly protective son and family; Kevin Kline as Sam, a bored Florida retiree; and Michael Douglas as Billy, a rich Malibu lawyer who just got engaged to his 31-year-old girlfriend.
They plan to marry in Las Vegas, which inspires his pals to head to Sin City for a bachelor party. Once there, they meet a lounge singer (Mary Steenburgen) who is close to their age, do a little gambling, judge a bikini contest, hatch plans for a blowout bash, air some grievances and ask some hard questions.
It's fun to watch Mr. Freeman, especially, cut loose, but the movie is often silly, and relationships are forged or forgotten with remarkable speed.
Extras include commentary with director Jon Turteltaub and writer Dan Fogelman and a making-of with commentary from the main cast.
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and language.
"The Fifth Estate"
"The Fifth Estate" tracks the rise and fall of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who challenged mainstream media to reassess the notion of news and created a secure site for whistle-blowers.
No target was too big or too much of a potential tinderbox, as with a Swiss bank apparently helping clients launder money or police accused of killings in Kenya.
Director Bill Condon's dramatization, written by Josh Singer, is nothing if not ambitious, starting with a capsule history of how information is disseminated and going full speed ahead with the story of WikiLeaks and the men who launched or nurtured it.
Benedict Cumberbatch plays Julian Assange and Daniel Bruhl is computer wizard Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who toils behind the scenes as ally and then adversary.
This could be starchy, regurgitated material, but in the hands of this director -- and Mr. Cumberbatch, who is a dramatic doppelganger for the WikiLeaks founder -- it can be electrifying. It's like watching a train speed by so quickly that you can barely see the faces at the windows or read the writing on the side of the cars.
Rated R for language and some violence.
"Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2"
This picks up where the quirky, heartwarming 2009 movie left off. Flint Lockwood (voice of Bill Hader) thought he had saved the world by destroying his invention capable of turning water into food and spawning spaghetti tornadoes, cheeseburger rain and a foodalanche.
The device brings him to the attention of his boyhood scientist hero, Chester V (voice of Will Forte), who runs a behemoth that's a cross between Apple and Google called Live Corp.
Chester sends Flint, his fisherman dad, pet monkey, meteorologist romantic interest and others to San Franjose, Calif., while their home of Swallow Falls ostensibly is being cleaned up. But when they sneak back, they discover the island is as overgrown as the one in "Jurassic Park" and the invention survived and is creating "foodimals" or food animal hybrids such as tacodiles, shrimpanzees and watermelophants.
"Cloudy" explodes with bright colors, clever combos of foodimals, sight gags, a pair of primate pals and even a message about bullies becoming friends.
But the story seems labored at times and more unfocused than the first, based on the Judi and Ron Barrett children's book. It's a bit like the second trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Extras include seven featurettes on the inspiration behind the food-animal hybrids; commentary with directors; and Cody Simpson "La Da Dee" music video. The Blu-ray adds deleted scenes and short films "Attack of the 50-Foot Gummi Bear," "Steve's First Bath," "Super Manny" and "Earl Scouts."
Rated PG for mild rude humor.
"Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa"
Johnny Knoxville returns to his money-making franchise as 86-year-old widower Irving Zisman, traveling cross-country with his grandson.
Irving's daughter is headed to jail, and he's charged with taking 8-year-old Billy (Jackson Nicoll) to his derelict dad many states, miles and "Candid Camera" adventures away in Raleigh, N.C.
They never met an event they couldn't corrupt with craziness, from bingo to mealtime in a restaurant where grandpa demonstrates a facility for flatulence and leaves his, uh, mud-colored mark on the wall.
Teaming Mr. Knoxville -- always a better actor than this franchise would indicate -- with young Jackson was inspired, and strangers don't quite know what to make of the boy.
The movie ends up being a series of truncated episodes, some funny in a shocking or juvenile way. It's a step up from the previous movies, which often were a collection of masochistic stunts, pranks and vomit-inducing challenges.
Extras include "Alternate Reactions from Real People" montage, behind-the-scenes vignettes and deleted scenes.
Rated R for strong crude and sexual content throughout, language, some graphic nudity and brief drug use.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
• "Metallica: Through the Never": A routine task for a Metallica roadie becomes a surreal odyssey.
• "Vera, Set 3": Brenda Blethyn stars in the series based on the novels by Ann Cleeves.
• "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross": Henry Louis Gates Jr. recounts the full trajectory of African-American history.
• "Dracula": Tale of horror from Dario Argento.
• "The April Fools": Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuve star.
• "LincolnGettysburg": Look at a major turning point in American history.
• "Bonnie & Clyde": Cable offering that looks at the famous bank robbers.
• "The Agatha Christie Hour: Complete Collection": Ten tales of intrigue and romance from the mystery writer.
• "Collison": After a deadly accident in the Sahara, newlyweds must survive the journey back to civilization.
• "Treme: The Complete Fourth Season": New Orleanians continue to rebuild in the aftermath Katrina.
• "Downton Abbey Season 4": Episodes include return of Shirley MacLaine and new guest star Paul Giamatti.
• "Nicholas Sparks Limited Edition DVD Collection": Seven films based on the author's novels.
• "Danny Phantom: The Complete Series": Find out how an average kid became part-ghost and all-ghost hunter.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers