DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS Apr-10-2011
This week's DVD and Blu-ray releases
The following are capsule reviews of new and recent DVD and Blu-ray releases from Catholic News Service. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account the discs' extra content.
Muddled thriller in which an American exchange professor at Oxford (Gregory Peck) gets involved with several sets of Arab spies, one of whom (Sophia Loren) keeps shifting sides. Directed by Stanley Donen, villains and villainy abound, there's eye-catching violence and sexy romance, but it's all surface and no substance. A-III -- adults. (N/R) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) 1966
Babe (Blu-ray edition)
Live-action barnyard charmer in which a kindly Australian farmer (James Cromwell) enters his unusual piglet (voice of Christine Cavanaugh) in a sheepdog competition, unaware that his farm animals can talk to one another as they pull together to make the little pig's dream of herding sheep come true. Director Chris Noonan's enchanting comic fable is filmed entirely from the animals' point-of-view, with delightful visuals and an endearing message of learning to live and work in harmony. Spanish titles option. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) 1995
Captain Newman, M.D.
World War II comedy-drama set in an Army Air Force psychiatric ward where the title's dedicated officer (Gregory Peck) labors to help deeply troubled patients, notably a suicidal colonel (Eddie Albert), a guilt-ridden survivor (Bobby Darin) and an autistic pilot (Robert Duvall). Directed by David Miller from Leo Rosten's novel, the result is an uneasy blend of serious psychological problems, the doctor's sarcastic wit and the zany antics of ward attendants Tony Curtis and Larry Storch. Stylized violence, menacing situations and sexual references. Spanish titles option. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) 1963
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Swashbuckling sequel, combining live action and animation, in which a brother and sister (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley) from World War II-era Britain are once again transported to the titular world, this time accompanied by their obnoxious, cynical cousin (Will Poulter). Reunited with their friend the king of Narnia (Ben Barnes), the siblings -- and, more reluctantly, their traveling companion -- join his quest to vanquish a menacing manifestation of evil by bringing together at the table of the noble lion Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson) seven magical swords empowered to protect the land from harm. As directed by Michael Apted, this screen version of the third in C.S. Lewis' classic series of Christian-themed allegorical novels keeps faith front and center as the good kids battle temptations ranging from envy to cowardice, while their initially nasty relative -- helped along by the wisdom of a plucky warrior mouse (voice of Simon Pegg) -- moves toward conversion. An enjoyable, mostly kid-friendly voyage, though somewhat less impressive dramatically than thematically. Considerable peril and bloodless violence, a couple of mild bathroom jokes. Spanish titles option. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Fiddler on the Roof
Fine screen adaptation of Joseph Stein's Broadway musical about Tevye (Topol), a milk seller in a czarist Russian village whose life of Jewish Orthodoxy is filled with joy and sadness but always buoyed by the human spirit and eternal hope. Struggling in a time of cultural and political flux to find suitable husbands for his three dowryless daughters, Tevye's faith and hope and sheer love of life and humankind keep him and the family going. Norman Jewison's direction does full justice to a rich and appealing musical that the whole family can enjoy. Spanish titles option. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (MGM Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 1971
The Heroes of Telemark
Norwegian resistance fighters (Kirk Douglas, Richard Harris and Ulla Jacobson) try to stop the Nazis from developing the atom bomb. Director Anthony Mann accomplishes a lot with the action scenes, but the story line keeps getting in the way. Stylized violence. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) 1965
Dull, tasteless comedy -- the second spawn of 2000's amusing "Meet the Parents" -- dominated by relatively raunchy and poorly staged gags centering on Gaylord and Pam Focker (Ben Stiller and Teri Polo), their 5-year-old twins (Colin Baiocchi and Daisy Tahan) and Pam's meddlesome father (Robert De Niro). Director Paul Weitz strings together a lowest-common-denominator collection of infantile set pieces. Frequent sexual banter, including references to sex toys, condoms and masturbation; some sexual situations and profanity; much crude and crass language; toilet humor; and a bruising fistfight. Spanish titles option. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (PG-13) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Gregory Peck plays an amnesia victim who is being stalked by a killer, Diane Baker is a woman out of his past, Walter Matthau is a private detective and, shrouded in the background, is a world peace organization. Directed by Edward Dmytryk, the ingredients of this suspense-filled puzzle may be familiar, but their solution is intriguing and nicely integrated in the New York setting. Spanish titles option. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) 1965
Unconvincing melodrama in which a retired mountain climber (Spencer Tracy) helps his greedy younger brother (Robert Wagner) reach a wrecked airliner in the Alps but refuses to help him rob the dead and, instead, rescues the plane's sole survivor (Anna Kashfi). Directed by Edward Dmytryk, the mountain climbing sequences are nerve-wracking but the relationship between the simple, decent older man and his nasty, spoiled sibling makes no sense and undermines the story's dramatic credibility. Menacing situations and confusing motivations. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Olive Films) 1956
Disney high-tech sci-fi adventure in which three heroes (Jeff Bridges, Cindy Morgan and Bruce Boxleitner), on the trail of a greedy villain (David Warner), get caught in the workings of a computerized video game. Fortunately, director Steven Lisberger has treated the material with a certain amount of humor, but how much you enjoy it will depend upon your enthusiasm for the special effects which are the movie's reason for being. Some violence and also the clear implication that the heroine has gone to bed with both of her heroic companions. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 1982
The briskly entertaining, unpretentious and prescient 1982 cult classic has been loudly updated and turned into a bloated, stultifying 3-D bore by director Joseph Kosinski, with the proceedings barely propped up by some still-enjoyable gadgetry. As the son (Garrett Hedlund) of a computer programming genius (Jeff Bridges, reprising his role in the original), searches for his mysteriously vanished father, the trail leads into the electronic alternate universe Dad created in the first outing. Scenes of intense action and some images of severed limbs. Spanish titles option. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
The World in His Arms
Romantic adventure with a Yankee sea captain (Gregory Peck) who has grown so rich poaching seals in Russian-owned Alaska that he decides to buy it from the czar, but along the way falls for a Russian countess (Ann Blyth), battles a Portuguese freebooter (Anthony Quinn) and is captured by a Russian gunboat. Director Raoul Walsh submerges the 19th-century romance in high-seas derring-do and imperial despotism with the action sputtering to a bogus ending. Stylized violence and romantic complications. Spanish titles option. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment) 1952
These movies have been evaluated for artistic merit and moral suitability by the media reviewing division of Catholic News Service. The reviews include the CNS rating, the Motion Picture Association of America rating, and a brief synopsis of the movie.
The classifications are as follows:
A-I -- general patronage;
A-II -- adults and adolescents;
A-III -- adults;
L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. L replaces the previous classification, A-IV.
O -- morally offensive.
Note: Some movies previously were designated A-IV. Older films with this classification should be regarded as classified L.