Three family-friendly movies are high leisure picks

Three feature films to entertain young and old are now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

“In the Heights” grade 3 ½ stars: Most of the stories unfold through song and dance. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical numbers range from bizarre to poignant. All of his music is presented with great force, whether it’s just to reproduce the musical heartbeat of the community or to talk about the frustrating feeling of having no power.

Director Jon M. Chu (“Crazy Rich Asians”) could have taken the same approach as he did with the screen version of “Hamilton”. This Miranda production was filmed on stage to preserve the integrity of the original show.

Chu decided to take In the Heights to new heights. He pushed the boundaries of the stage to fill the city streets with music, stories and people. His staging of massive musical numbers and the use of unorthodox camera work and graphics make “In the Heights” so powerful that you can almost smell the Mofongo kitchen.

“Untamed Spirit” class 3 stars: The new DVD release doesn’t do much to help the franchise move forward, but it doesn’t hurt it either. There’s nothing wrong with a film with a strong female character, a subtle story about appreciation for wildlife and acceptance of diversity.

Lucky Prescott (Isabela Merced) is a young girl who grew up without her mother due to tragedy. Lucky eventually goes to a small town on the edge of the wide border to live with her father. She is a wild spirit who instantly connects to a wild mustang that she calls Spirit. They form an immediate bond.

This friendship is threatened by a heartless horse fighter who rounds up Spirit and his herd to sell them. Lucky has to rely on her friends to help save the horses.

The film – directed by Elaine Bogan – is both simple in design and beautiful in size. There are a few very small moments between friends, which then reveal the beauty of the vastness.

“12 Mighty Orphans” class 3 1/2 stars: The film – directed by Ty Roberts – is based on the true story of the Mighty Mites, a soccer team from an orphanage in Fort Worth. Led by legendary coach Rusty Russell (Luke Wilson), the ragged group of shoes goes away to play for the Texas State Championships during the Great Depression.

Russell manages to shape the few players he has into a winning team despite battling local coaches, school authorities and the law. He also manages to introduce changes in the way football is played.

There is no escaping the melodrama that comes out of this type of story. And the script based on Jim Dent’s novel doesn’t take unexpected turns. It’s the way Wilson and Martin Sheen (who takes on the kind of role Dennis Hopper played in “Hoosiers”) dig so deeply into their roles that take the story to a higher level.

New on DVD and Blu-ray from August 31st

“Mortal Kombat Legends: Battle of the Empires”: Earthrealm warriors and heroes return home after a tough tournament to find their land full of terror and destruction.

“NCIS: New Orleans: Final Season”: The Scott Bakula CBS criminal case includes investigative work on the Big Easy.

“Steel Song”: Documentary film that follows the lives of three women who fight in the extreme and full contact sports of medieval armored combat.

Available through digital platforms

“We have to do something”: Two women face the harsh reality of being trapped in a storm for days. Search for it through Video On Demand.

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