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.
Explosively noisy, stunt-laden, cheesy and somehow engrossing film based on the TV series in the 1980s without that program's self-mocking humor. Director Joe Carnahan, who also scripted along with Brian Bloom and Skip Woods, reinvents the story line as sort of a video game, with Liam Neeson, Quinton Jackson, Bradley Cooper, and Sharlto Copley. They play four Army Rangers, all specialists in covert missions, framed in Iraq for a crime they didn't commit, then escape from prison to clear their names and seize the CIA operative who set them up. Some fleeting crass and crude language, most of it before the opening credits are over, a fleeting reference to premarital sex, and abundant explosions and gunfire. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG-13) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
This enchanting 3-D animated comedy about a slightly wicked but ultimately softhearted rogue (voice of Steve Carell) follows his rivalry with a nerdy newcomer (voice of Jason Segel) for the title of world's most terrible villain -- during which they compete to steal the moon, no less -- and charts the life-altering effect a trio of orphans (voices of Miranda Cosgrove, Dana Gaier and Elsie Fisher) have on him after he takes them under his wing. Initially, it's for his own nefarious purposes. Co-directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin -- who also provide voice work for the main miscreant's army of comically mumbling undersized minions -- serve up a delightfully humorous conversion tale. It is spun around themes of loyalty and the transformative power of family love with only a few effects that might scare the most timid and a touch of mild bathroom humor to raise concern among some parents. Spanish language and titles options. A-I -- general patronage. (PG) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
3D animated adventure in which, after being kidnapped and enslaved by a force of militaristic owls led by a scheming queen (voice of Helen Mirren), a plucky owlet (voice of Jim Sturgess), accompanied by a diminutive fellow captive (voice of Emily Barclay), escapes and embarks on a quest to enlist the help of a legendary group of heroic warrior owls (voiced, among others, by Geoffrey Rush and Sam Neill) to defeat the evildoers. Director Zack Snyder's visually engaging adaptation of the first three novels in Kathryn Lasky's popular "Guardians of Ga'Hoole" series of children's books offers a sound, if somewhat bulky and not overly original, narrative of downtrodden right versus overweening might. But intense scenes of animal combat preclude endorsement for the youngest of this otherwise unobjectionable tale. Strong, though stylized, violence, situations of peril. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
Living Your Faith, Episodes 1-4
Initial installments of an informative documentary series combining an introduction to the work of the Knights of Malta -- a 900-year-old organization of Catholic laypeople dedicated to the service of the sick and the poor, as well as to spreading and defending the faith -- and a panel discussion of major topics drawn from the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In the first half-hour episode screened, Emmy Award-winning journalist and series host Jane Hanson presents footage of the frequent pilgrimages to the Marian shrine at Lourdes, France, sponsored by the Knights, and is then joined by panelists from The Catholic University of America for an exploration of prayer and Christian meditation. Pilgrims movingly describe the transformative effects of their experiences, while the analysis of the need for spiritual communication with God is both substantive and accessible. A briefer conversation with then-Father David M. O'Connell, a member of the Vincentians who formerly served as Catholic University's president and is now the bishop of Trenton, N.J., provides further insight. A co-production of the Knights and Telecare, the television service of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y., the project offers a useful resource for individuals, families or parishes. Later episodes focus on the importance of community, the dignity of the human person and Christ's commandment, "Love thy neighbor." (www.livingyourfaith.com) 2010
Nanny McPhee Returns
The eerie but magically effective matron of the title (Emma Thompson) transports herself to wartime Britain, where she comes to the rescue of a frazzled rural mother (Maggie Gyllenhaal). With her husband (Ewan McGregor) away at the front, she is failing spectacularly to cope with the raucous squabbling between her three children (Asa Butterfield, Lil Woods and Oscar Steer) and a duo of snobbish London cousins (Rosie Taylor-Ritson and Eros Vlahos). The cousins are freshly arrived evacuees whose parents have sent them to the countryside for safety. Further straining mom's nerves are the efforts of her scheming brother-in-law (Rhys Ifans) to pressure her, for reasons of his own, into signing away the family farm in dad's absence. As written by Thompson and directed by Susanna White, this second screen adventure based on Christianna Brand's "Nurse Matilda" series of children's books tells a sweetly nostalgic tale underpinned by lessons about cooperation, sharing, courage and the need to believe in happy endings, with only some mildly gross barnyard humor and slapstick violence to give parents pause. Spanish language and titles options. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (PG) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
British horror movie in which a traveling troupe of gypsy vampires (Adrienne Corri and Anthony Corlan) visit a Serbian village to revive a dead count who had been killed there 15 years before. Director Robert Young tries to make up for the script's lack of wit and suspense with a fair sprinkling of incidental sex, but with little success. A-III - adults. (PG) (Synapse Films; also available on Blu-ray) 1972
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.