Disney makes 'The Call of the Wild' and 'Downhill' available early on digital

·4 min read
1917
George Mackay in the Oscar-winning movie "1917." (Universal Pictures)

Movie theaters may be closed, but recent theatrical releases are available to rent (VOD) or buy digitally faster than ever. Here is what's new this week, with links to our reviews.

1917 Inspired by stories from his grandfather, director Sam Mendes deploys technological trickery in pursuit of a new kind of cinematic truth in this World War I ticktock-thriller and half succeeds. Winner of three Academy Awards. R. VOD, digital, Blu-Ray and DVD

— Justin Chang

Onward Pixar Animation Studios pride themselves on their originality and ingenuity, but this particular world of wonder, populated by galloping centaurs, spell-casting wizards and fire-breathing dragons, feels curiously, even knowingly, derivative. Directed by Dan Scanlon; voices by Chris Pratt and Tom Holland. Digital; available April 3 on Disney+

— Justin Chang

The Call of the Wild There isn’t much nuance or complexity to be found, but it’s an old-fashioned animal-friendly adventure flick for kids; and though it’s hard to buy the CGI animated dog, the human performances, led by Harrison Ford, save it. PG. Available March 27 on digital.

—Katie Walsh

Downhill As directed by Nat Faxon and Jim Rash and starring the usually reliable Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell, this is essentially a remake of the splendid Swedish film “Force Majeure,” though the producers prefer to think of it as a riff inspired by the previous material. Whatever descriptor you choose, your disappointment will be palpable. R. Available March 27 on digital.

—Kenneth Turan

The Way Back This could have been as by the numbers as its title, a name that telegraphs a need to be redeemed, to rebound from adversity. But it isn’t. Muscularly directed by Gavin O’Connor, it's elevated and transformed by one of Ben Affleck’s strongest and most convincing performances. R. Digital

— Kenneth Turan

Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) A sleek, diverting, hyper-violent caper starring Margot Robbie, it is an impudent blast of comic energy directed by Cathy Yan. Light on psychology and devoid of prestige, it’s a slab of R-rated hard candy that refuses to take anything, least of all itself, too seriously. Digital

— Justin Chang

Bloodshot Subversion coexists alongside Vin Diesel’s sincerity in this bewildering piece of good-bad sci-fi action trash. Do any of the characters have clearly articulated motives? No. Are the action sequences a confounding geographical jumble? Indeed. What more could you possibly expect from a movie called “Bloodshot”? Nothing. PG-13. Digital

— Katie Walsh

Dolittle Starring Robert Downey Jr., it is hasty, hectic and harried, but worse, it is utterly halfhearted. The film is directed and cowritten by Stephen Gaghan, and the character development is negligible, the jokes unoriginal; it's lowest-common-denominator fare. PG. Digital; available April 7 on VOD, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD

— Katie Walsh

The Gentlemen Writer-director Guy Ritchie’s comic thriller is a starry but curiously low-impact return to the twisty, garrulous British gangster pictures with which he made his reputation years ago. The sartorial pleasures are nothing to scoff at, even when you can’t say the same for the movie itself. Featuring Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant. R. Digital

— Justin Chang

I Still Believe This faith-based romantic drama from the Erwin Brothers preaches to the choir, counting on its audience to know every word and melody to the story it tells, both literally with the songs of its real-life subject, Jeremy Camp, as well as in its earnest spirituality and cultural references. With K.J. Apa and Britt Robertson. PG. Available March 27 on digital

— Kimber Meyers

The Grudge Writer-director Nicolas Pesce’s distinctively sour new American version of the franchise doesn’t reinvent the formula. Pesce’s art-film roots are evident in the movie’s slow-burn first hour. But he piles on the explicit gore and jump scares, leading to a final scene and final shot as terrifying as anything in the original series. With Andrea Riseborough. R, VOD, digital, Blu-Ray and DVD

— Noel Murray

The Song of Names This may be a fictional mystery-drama, but its story feels as real as many of the true-life, Holocaust-centric tales that have made their way to the screen, stage or page. Directed by François Girard, it is a profound, affecting and beautifully told chronicle of faith, family, obsession and the language of music. With Tim Roth and Clive Owen. PG-13. Digital, Blu-Ray and DVD

— Gary Goldstein