DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS week of September 24, 2010
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.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (3D edition)
Mostly delightful animated sequel in which a mammoth couple (voices of Ray Romano and Queen Latifah), a tiger (voice of Denis Leary) and two possums (voices of Josh Peck and Seann William Scott) search for the missing sloth (voice of John Leguizamo) who rounds out their improvised herd, and discover the underworld of dinosaurs to which he has been unwillingly carried. A few touches of vaguely crude humor aside, director Carlos Saldanha's epic 3-D quest, which also features Simon Pegg voicing the adventurers' wacky weasel guide, is well calculated to charm viewers of all ages with its portrayal of loyalty and teamwork. Spanish language and titles options. A-I -- general patronage. (PG) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray.) 2009
Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence
David Bowie and Tom Conti star in an English-Japanese production about the clash of cultures in a Japanese camp for British prisoners during World War II. At war's end, with the Japanese prisoners of the British, there is an indication that perhaps humanity can bridge such cultural chasms. The subject is almost a movie cliche and others have done it much better. Directed by Nagisa Oshima, the movie features much hard-edged samurai-code violence and an ambivalent attitude toward homosexuality. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray.) 1983
Frantic thriller teams an aggressive military intelligence agent (George Clooney) with a nuclear physicist (Nicole Kidman) in tracking stolen nukes across continents until they come face to face with a madman intent on setting off a doomsday bomb in midtown Manhattan. Director Mimi Leder packs the rushed narrative with car chases and shoot-'em-ups, resulting in an emotionally sterile story of bogus thrills. Frequent violence, intermittent rough language and a few instances of profanity. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (R) (Dreamworks Video: also available on Blu-ray.) 1997
Thematically ambitious yet enervating version of the much-filmed legend concerning the 13th-century English outlaw (Russell Crowe) who, in this serious reworking awash in political intrigue and salubrious civics lessons, goes from common archer on King Richard's Crusade to the valiant unifier of a downtrodden, suffering nation. Director Ridley Scott drains the tale of energy and emotion without offering action thrills that would ingratiate a new generation of viewers. Though hovering on the edge of bawdiness, and despite jabs at the cold-hearted, oppressive church leaders of the period, the movie may be acceptable for some mature teenagers. Much -- mostly bloodless -- battle violence, a nongraphic sexual situation with fleeting rear nudity, an attempted rape, callous clergy, some innuendo and anatomical references and one instance each of crude and crass language. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Universal Studios; also available on Blu-ray.) 2010
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Parts 1 & 2;
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is a tender, if at times overly sentimental teen drama about four lifelong friends (Alexis Bledel, Blake Lively, America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn) who spend their first summer apart, during which they experience life-changing adolescent ordeals, but remain linked by a shared pair of magical denim jeans. Directed by Ken Kwapis from the best-seller by Ann Brashares and with spirited performances by the quartet of young actresses, the film, despite its bubblegum title and breezy Judy Blume veneer, tackles heavy issues such as divorce, death and teen sexuality (which may be inappropriate for younger teens). It ultimately imparts a life-affirming message about friendship and family. An implied sexual encounter and sexual innuendo, some mature thematic elements, including one character's loss of virginity, as well as sporadic mildly crude language. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG.) 2005
"The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" is an overcrowded but mostly enjoyable romance sequel updating the lives of four friends (Tamblyn, Ferrera, Lively and Bledel) as they pursue disparate adventures during the summer after their first year in college. While director Sanaa Hamri's lightweight adaptation of Brashares' novels promotes youthful self-confidence, it also takes a somewhat permissive view of teen sexuality. Implied nonmarital sexual activity, condom use, suicide theme, a couple of profanities, one crude and a few crass words; acceptable for older adolescents. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13.) (Warner Home Video.) 2008
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.