• Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley shine in “The Imitation Game.”
• Christopher Nolan spaces out with the sci-fi offering “Interstellar.”
• Reese Witherspoon takes the right steps in “Wild.”
This week’s new DVD releases feature three films that garnered Oscar nominations.
“The Imitation Game” Grade B: A group of Brits rush to defeat the German code machine during World War II. Benedict Cumberbatch stars. At the core, this is a story about how one man can be both a hero and an outcast.
It is depicted through the mesmerizing performance of Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the genius who helped bring World War II to an end two years early.
He is especially good with Keira Knightley, who can paint a rainbow of emotions with a look and a smile. She is a little tethered here, but she breaks through enough to make Joan Clarke an interesting player in this social, sexual and synaptic game of chess.
“Interstellar” Grade D+: From the heartbreaking, sweeping farm lands that reflect the desperation of a world in ruin to cities among the stars, the film is a dazzling galaxy of images.
The problem is that the story gets in the way with a blinding glare of sci-fi mumble jumble that is equal parts idiotic and gimmick. Director Christopher Nolan’s work on the script, which his brother Jonathan Nolan had originally written, is a black hole of ideas that never emerge from the darkness.
“Interstellar” might not have come across as such a major disaster had it been made by someone else. Nolan’s his own worst enemy here, because he’s shown with films like “Dark Knight” and “Inception” that he can produce brilliant work. “Interstellar” isn’t even in the same universe with his past films, which is what makes this such a crushing failure.
“Wild” Grade A-: A woman goes on a journey of more than 1,000 miles to find herself. Reese Witherspoon stars. Every journey does start with a single step and the trek to transform Cheryl Strayed’s memoir into the feature film “Wild” began with the inspired casting of Reese Witherspoon.
The Oscar-winning actress brings an acting purity to the film that makes us feel the pain and the progress of each step her character takes.
Also new on DVD March 31
• “Silicon Valley: Season 1”: Cable series about the world of tech startups.
• “Ships”: Two people go on adventure in Turkey.
• “The Rewrite”: Screenwriter finds inspiration in the students he must teach. J.K. Simmons stars.
• “Lovejoy: Series 5”: Ian McShane continues to solve crimes while dealing in antiques.
• “Veep: The Complete Third Season”: Vice President Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) stumps for an autobiography she didn’t write.
• “WWJD (What Would Jesus Do): The Journey Continues”: A drifter inspires a group of people to live as Jesus would.
• “The Circle”: Charts life of gay couple who become the first same-sex couple to get legal recognition in Switzerland.
• “Miss Marple: Volume Two”: Joan Hickson plays the noted Agatha Christie sleuth.
• “House Keeping”: Simple housekeeping job becomes bloody difficult.
• “Mortal Combat: Conquest — The Complete Series”: Forces of good and evil clash.
• “Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold”: Richard Chamberlain stars in the 1986 release.
• “Nature: Owl Power”: A look at the special skills of the birds.
• “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar”: Morgan Freeman narrates this look at the plight of the Lemurs.
• “Frontline: Putin’s Way”: Examination of the Russian leader.
• “Language Matters with Bob Holman”: Two-hour documentary on the importance of language.
• “Case Histories Complete Collection”: Series based on the novels by Kate Atkinson.
• “Chuggington: Fire Patrol Rescue”: Six episodes stress fire safety lessons.
• “NOVA: Building Wonders”: Investigates engineering mysteries of the ancient world.
• “Outcast”: Nicolas Cage stars in this tale of a disillusioned crusader.
• “Gravity: Two-Disc Special Edition”: Includes “Silent Space,” the version of the film without the music.
• “Wild Card”: Las Vegas bodyguard gets pulled into the criminal underworld.