DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS week of September 6, 2010
This week's DVD and Blu-ray releases
The following are capsule reviews of new and recent DVD and Blu-ray releases from the Catholic News Service. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service 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.
Engaging sci-fi outing with a space expedition (led by Leslie Nielsen) fighting unseen monsters of the Id on a planet where the powers of a superior, long-extinct civilization are being harnessed by a maverick scientist (Walter Pidgeon). He is being helped by his daughter (Anne Francis) and a very personable robot named Robby. Directed by Fred M. Wilcox, the premise echoes Shakespeare's "The Tempest," but the movie has its own suspenseful plot developments, intriguing gadgetry and colorful sets, flawed only by some clunky dialogue and desultory action. Occasional stylized violence and much menace. Spanish titles option. A-II -- adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America. (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 1956
In Cold Blood
Meaningful screen version of Truman Capote's "nonfiction novel" about the senseless 1959 slaying of a Kansas family and the apprehension and hanging of their killers (Robert Blake and Scott Wilson). Director Robert Brooks takes a semi-documentary approach in re-creating these events with shattering realism but with compassion and a notable lack of sensationalism. It also explores the backgrounds and the motivations of the two criminals as well as scrutinizes the practice of capital punishment. Strong stuff, but the experience is thought-provoking. A-III -- adults. (R) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 1967
Very much the definition of mindless fun, only if you enjoy anything Ashton Kutcher says or does. Director Robert Luketic and screenwriters Bob DeRosa and Ted Griffin play explosions, gunfire and car crashes by rote in this combination of marital comedy and espionage thriller, very much derivative of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and others of the genre, but the comic bickering between Kutcher and co-star Katherine Heigl is usually stale and insipid. Fleeting crass language, mild sexual banter, and all violence is played for comic effect, making this acceptable for older adolescents. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG-13) (Lionsgate Home Entertainment also available on Blu-ray) 2010
In a futuristic underground world, a minor technician named THX 1138 (Robert Duvall) rebels against its sterile, dehumanizing conditions and tries to escape through a maze of electronic devices and guard robots to the unknown outside world. Director George Lucas creates a terrifying technological future out of the materials of today, but it is difficult to empathize with the story's dehumanized characters who have been stripped of all sensitivity and emotion. Though the movie is visually extraordinary and its story has substance, a rather explicit love scene and an extended sequence with a nude dancer limit its audience. Spanish titles option. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray.) 1971
Wall Street (Special Edition)
An earnest young stockbroker (Charlie Sheen) wants to make an honest million, but a financial wheeler-dealer (Michael Douglas) teaches him that there are easier ways to make money than working for it. Directed by Oliver Stone, the cautionary tale does a creditable job in showing how part of the financial community has made greed a way of life but is somewhat unconvincing in its dramatization of the corruption of an innocent and his ultimate redemption. Several scenes depicting sexual activity and some very rough language. Spanish titles option. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray.) 1987
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.