DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS Nov-15-2010
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.
Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Entertaining and inventive 3-D spy adventure -- seamless blending live action, puppetry, and computer animation -- in which rogue feline agent Kitty Galore (voice of Bette Midler) threatens to make the world her "personal scratching post" by unleashing the "Call of the Wild," a screech that serves as a weapon of mass destruction. Led by Diggs (voice of James Marsden), a police K-9 German shepherd who hates cats, and Catherine (voice of Christina Applegate), a feline agent who puts her nine lives on the line, the covert pet intelligence agencies DOG and MEOWS must put differences aside and work together to bring Kitty down. Plenty of excitement, gizmos, and cute-as-a-button moments will charm and enthrall the youngsters, while their parents will enjoy the inside jokes referencing James Bond films. Spanish titles option. A-I -- general patronage. (PG) (Warner Home Video) 2010
Disney's A Christmas Carol
Lavish, well-crafted but frequently eerie 3-D animated adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic 1843 novella in which miserly misanthrope Ebenezer Scrooge (voice of Jim Carrey) is urged to change his ways by the tortured specter of his late business partner (voice of Gary Oldman) and by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come (all voiced by Carrey). Though free of objectionable content, and unabashed about the Christian context of its conversion story, writer-director Robert Zemeckis' largely faithful retelling features images and special effects likely to disturb the most sensitive youngsters. Spanish language and titles options. A-I -- general patronage. (PG) (Walt Disney Studio Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2009
The Endless Summer (Director's Special Edition)
Two young experts (Robert August and Mike Hynson) travel to Africa, New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii in search of the perfect wave. Producer-director Bruce Brown pictures the pleasures of surfing with enthusiasm and humor. A-I -- general patronage. (N/R) (Monterey Video) 1966
The Last Airbender
Strained 3-D fantasy adventure, set in an alternate world where some human beings have the power to "bend," that is, control, one of the basic elements of fire, earth, air and water. It is also where a brother and sister (Jackson Rathbone and Nicola Peltz) assist a child (Noah Ringer) who is the latest incarnation of a global peace-giver in his quest to restore order to society by ending the oppressive rule of a warlike, imperialist nation (led by Cliff Curtis and Aasif Mandvi). Though free of objectionable language or behavior, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan's live-action adaptation of an animated TV series -- which also features Dev Patel as a disgraced prince out to prove his mettle by capturing the boy wonder -- fails to gain dramatic traction, bogging down in stilted dialogue and endless explanations of its back story, some aspects of which suggest pantheism or nonscriptural beliefs. Potentially confusing religious themes and much nongraphic martial arts and combat violence. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Paramount Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Broad comedy centers on a hardworking, good-natured 18-year-old (rapper Bow Wow) from an Atlanta housing project who wins the lottery but must survive a long holiday weekend before he can collect. He must evade the wiles of a menacing thug (Gbenga Akinnagbe) and a natty crime boss (Mike Epps) with the help of a retired boxer (Ice Cube) for whom he runs errands. Director Erik White's efforts to bridge materialism and spiritual growth are awkward, and viewers seeking an entertaining and perceptive social satire will be disappointed. Nongraphic nonmarital sexual activity, much profanity, at least one use of the F-word, frequent crude and crass language, numerous sexual and contraception references and some violence. Spanish titles option. The Catholic News Service classification is L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (PG-13) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Metropolis (Special Edition)
Silent classic of a future society ruled by an aristocracy living in luxury above ground while the workers suffer miserably underground, comforted only by the religious faith of a young woman (Brigitte Helm) in whose likeness a sinister scientist (Rudolf Klein-Rogge) fashions a robot inciting the workers to rebel but all ends in reconciliation. Directed by Fritz Lang, the story's melodramatic turns and woolly finale may be dated but not its vivid pictorial sense, grandly expressionistic decor and theme of social justice. This edition uses a print of the film discovered in Argentina in 2008 to restore all but five minutes of this once-mangled masterpiece's original 153-minute running time. But the additional material suggests a somewhat more restrictive classification than the one below, which was assigned to the previously available version. Bleak picture of exploited workers, stylized violence and some sexual innuendo. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Kino International; also available on Blu-ray) 1926
Charlie Chaplin's insightful fable of man versus machine centers on the artificiality of industrialized society and the anxieties caused by the Depression as Charlie dances his way through the hazards of an assembly-line job. A model of silent comedic technique and refined slapstick humor, the movie marks the last appearance of the Little Tramp character as Charlie takes his final walk down the long, empty road, this time in the company of Paulette Goddard, who adds an element of freshness to the plot's old-fashioned romance. A-I -- general patronage.(G) All ages admitted. (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray) 1936
Once the Wild West was tamed, cowboys such as Monte Walsh (Lee Marvin) found it hard to adapt to the demands of society. Jeanne Moreau and Jack Palance join Marvin in strong performances in a seriocomic study of ordinary cowpokes put out of work by a changing cattle industry that director William Fraker makes interesting despite a weak and aimless script with a hopelessly melodramatic climax. Some Hollywood heroics featuring fist fights and gun play. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Paramount Home Entertainment) 1970
The Night of the Hunter
Powerful chiller from Davis Grubb's novel in which a berserk backwoods preacher (Robert Mitchum) learns of money stolen by a dying convict, marries his widow (Shelley Winters) to find it, then pursues her two frightened youngsters until they find sanctuary with a frail but resourceful matron (Lillian Gish). The only movie directed by actor Charles Laughton, the dark tale of suspense builds a truly frightening picture of a homicidal fanatic whose righteous facade is finally shattered by the innocence of children and the common sense of a determined woman. Much menace, some stylized violence and muted sexual references. A-III -- adults. (N/R) (Criterion Collection; also available on Blu-ray) 1955
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.