DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS Oct-7-2010
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.
The Adventures of Robin Hood
Rousing costume adventure tale pitting the good Robin (Errol Flynn), Little John (Alan Hale), Friar Tuck (Eugene Pallette) and the rest of the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest against the nasty Prince John (Claude Rains) and the Sheriff of Nottingham (Basil Rathbone), with the lovely Maid Marian (Olivia de Havilland) serving as pawn. Directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, the story's fight against injustice is treated with sincerity but told playfully, the color photography adds zest to the action scenes, and the Warner Brothers cast of supporting players seem to be having as good a time as the leads. Vintage but still sparkling. Spanish language and titles options. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-Ray.) 1938
Battle of Britain
With the fall of France in 1940, Great Britain stood alone against the might of the German air force. The movie pays tribute to the smaller number of British fighter pilots who, in the months that followed, downed so many planes that the Luftwaffe was unable to mount its massive raids. Laurence Olivier, Michael Redgrave and Trevor Howard star in this huge and impressive British production directed by Guy Hamilton. Wartime violence. Spanish titles options. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (MGM Home Entertainment.) 1969
The Exorcist (Director's Cut)
Strong screen version of the William Blatty novel about the demonic possession of a young girl (Linda Blair) and the attempts of two priests (Jason Miller and Max von Sydow) to exorcize the devil from her. Directed by William Friedkin, the movie is on shaky ground theologically and its special effects are horrific, but the result is an exciting horror fantasy for those with strong stomachs. Its graphic violence, obscene references and foul language make it strictly adult fare. Spanish language and titles options. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (R) (Warner Home Video.) 1973
Hand in Hand
A British movie about the childhood friendship between a Catholic boy and a Jewish girl who discover that God is everywhere, watching over everyone. Directed by Philip Leacock, it is a fine little film, especially for family audiences. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.) 1960
The Karate Kid
Stirring, satisfying update of the 1984 hit shifts the action to modern China, where an unassuming kung fu master (Jackie Chan) teaches an undersized American boy (Jaden Smith) how to confront a bully while imparting other life lessons. Director Harald Zwart balances fealty for the crowd-pleasing original with embellishments that, aside from a manipulative musical score, enhance the appeal of the timeless underdog story. Hard-hitting and occasionally cruel but not graphic martial arts violence, including a boy being struck across the face by an adult, the use of a crass term for the human posterior, some mild toilet humor, one instance of sexual innuendo, an unnecessary kiss between pre-teens. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-Ray.) 2010
The Last of the Mohicans
When the French and Indian War erupts on New York's colonial frontier, heroic woodsman Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) cannot save a British force from being massacred in the wilderness, but at least he's able to rescue its commander's daughter (Madeleine Stowe) from a wicked Huron warrior (Wes Studi). In adapting the James Fenimore Cooper classic to the screen, director Michael Mann updates its romanticized version of pioneer life amid noble woodland savages by dwelling in realistic detail on the inhuman cruelties of hand-to-hand combat. Many graphic depictions of deadly violence and bloodshed. Spanish titles option. A-III -- adults. (R) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-Ray.) 1992
The Maltese Falcon
Dashiell Hammett's private detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets involved with a crafty trio of crooks (Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre), each trying to outswindle the other in quest of the priceless statue of the title, but all the hard-boiled gumshoe wants is to nab the one who murdered his partner (Jerome Cowan). Writer-director John Huston's classy crime melodrama has taut pacing, snappy dialogue, wry characterizations and an unsentimental pay-off. Though there's some menace and violence, it's mainly a mind-over-muscle caper. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-Ray.) 1941
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
A trio of down-on-their-luck Americans in Mexico (Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston and Tim Holt) pool their stakes to prospect for gold in the mountainous backcountry, stumble upon a rich vein of ore and then face dissension over dividing their sudden wealth and getting it past a local band of murderous cutthroats. Director John Huston's suspenseful adventure tale features standout performances by his father Walter as a happy-go-lucky veteran prospector and Bogart as a penny-ante drifter driven over the edge by greed. Some intense menace. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-Ray.) 1948
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.