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.
Animated feature by Ralph Bakshi presents a history of American popular music through the story of an immigrant family from the turn of the century to the present, with the great-grandson gaining fame as a rock star. Interesting concept, but the story lacks dramatic focus and many of the characters are unappealing, if not repulsive. Depiction of some sleazy environments and the use of drugs. A-III – adults. (R) (Image Entertainment) 1981
Fishers of Men
Dynamic, compelling 18-minute vocations documentary that uses interviews with priests, reenactments of historic and contemporary events and images from Christian art to celebrate life in the Catholic priesthood -- an often sacrificial, but also fundamentally joyous, calling. A project of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for of the Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, the film offers an uplifting introduction to the mission of those Christ has summoned to be his representatives at the altar, in the confessional and at key moments in the lives of the faithful. Spanish language and titles options. (Grassroots Films, www.grassrootsfilms.com) 2006
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) with the help of 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 language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 1956
Ingenious sci-fi brainteaser in which, at the behest of a powerful CEO (Ken Watanabe), a corporate spy (Leonardo DiCaprio) who uses "shared dreaming" to extract secrets from the minds of sleeping executives leads a team of skilled collaborators (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy and Dileep Rao) on a raid into the subconscious of the heir (Cillian Murphy) to a rival business. Writer-director Christopher Nolan achieves a tour de force of spectacle and suspense that eventually involves four adventures unfolding simultaneously at different levels of consciousness, though his crafty action tale is rife with explosions and gunplay and engages the imagination more than the heart. Much violence, some of it bloody, several uses of profanity, a few crude and crass terms. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
In the 1750s, the large and prosperous Jesuit Indian missions of South America were divided between Spain and Portugal. In retelling these events, Robert Bolt's screenplay focuses not on the religious but on the sociopolitical dimension of the colonial era and its injustices. The epic production is visually splendid, but Roland Joffe's direction is erratic and bogs down in contrasting a nonviolent priest (Jeremy Irons) and one (Robert De Niro) who leads the Indians against a colonial army. Although flawed, the work recalls a past that provides a context for current Latin American struggles. Violence and ethnographic nudity. A-III -- adults. (PG) 1986
The Odessa File
Screen version of the Frederick Forsyth thriller about a German journalist (Jon Voight) who seeks to track down a Nazi war criminal (Maximilian Schell) and comes into conflict with the dreaded Odessa, a secret Nazi organization bent on regaining power. Too heavy and slow moving to be a really effective melodrama, director Ronald Neame has made a run-of-the-mill entertainment with serious overtones. Some violence. A-III -- adults. (PG) (Image Entertainment) 1974
Shrek Forever After
Heartwarming, decidedly less raucous animated riff on fairy tales brings the blockbuster franchise full circle as the titular ogre (voiced by Mike Myers) experiences a midlife crisis and is tricked by an evil wizard (voice of Walt Dohrn) into living a different version of his past, during which he must win his wife's (voiced by Cameron Diaz) affections all over again and learn to appreciate his current good fortune. Director Mike Mitchell and colleagues downplay the previous installments' cheeky idiom of pop-culture parody and affirm the values of love and fidelity in a manner that should gladden parents, who can err on the side of being inclusive when judging whether to allow the kids to watch. A few mild action sequences, occasional toilet-related humor. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Dreamworks Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
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.