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 Bucket List
Unremarkable, formulaic, only mildly entertaining story of two cancer patients -- a wealthy, womanizing tycoon (Jack Nicholson) and a middle-class garage mechanic (Morgan Freeman) -- who decide to hit the road and experience all their wildest dreams in the time they have left, that is, until they "kick the bucket." We've seen all this before, and except for seeing the two stars in standard reliable form, director Rob Reiner's film is predictably routine, though some problematic elements aside, imparting a positive message about finding the joy in life and bringing joy to others. An instance of the F-word, some crude expletives, crass expressions and scattered profanity, a vulgar gesture, an implied nonmarital sexual encounter, sexual references and innuendo, and domestic discord. Spanish titles option. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 2007
A former medical emergency worker (Sylvester Stallone) singlehandedly attempts to rescue a dozen trapped survivors when a tunnel connecting Manhattan to New Jersey collapses at both ends following a fiery explosion. Director Rob Cohen's formula disaster movie works up considerable concern over the fate of the frightened victims as their peril mounts from fires, flooding and collapsing supports. Some charred corpses, accident-related fatalities and occasional profanity. Spanish titles option. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 1996
Argentinian director Alexandro Jodorowsky presents the story of a man's spiritual journey through life and the contradictions that arise between physical and moral power. The form is the time-honored Western with its gunfighters, open landscapes, and frontier towns. But in addition to using the Western conventions, the film also employs religious imagery, and sections of the Bible serve as its ideological frame of reference. Some will find its images of violence, sexuality and venality to be unsettling, if not offensive. L -- limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. (N/R) (Anchor Bay; also available on Blu-ray) 1971
Having abandoned her husband (Peter Gallagher) and three young sons several years earlier, a disturbed woman (Jamie Lee Curtis) abruptly returns, obsessed with reclaiming her role as wife and mother despite her husband's plans to remarry. Yves Simoneau directs a routine thriller whose sinister atmosphere lingers listlessly right up to an unconvincing, melodramatic finish. Some sexual innuendo, fleeting nudity, brief violence and several instances of rough language. A-III -- adults. (R) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 1994
Phantoms (Widescreen Edition)
Dreary horror movie pitting a shape-shifting monster against a small-town sheriff (Ben Affleck), two sisters (Rose McGowan and Joanna Going) and an eccentric professor (Peter O'Toole) who holds the key to destroying the deadly menace. Director Joe Chappelle uses familiar cliches to advance the narrative, but neglects to build the suspense necessary to make the fright formula work. Recurring fantasy violence, some profanity and occasional rough language. A-III -- adults. (R) (Echo Bridge Home Entertainment) 1998
Interesting animated film set in the Paris of 2054 about a kidnapped scientist (Romola Garai), the former protege of a renowned geneticist (Ian Holm), who works for a sinister megacompany promising eternal youth and beauty, and the cop (voiced by Daniel Craig) assigned to rescue her, assisted by the woman's older sister (Catherine McCormack), who fends off the sinister forces of the company's vice president (Jonathan Pryce) with his own motives for finding her first. Director Christian Volckman's debut feature film -- basically a graphic novel come to life -- has a sometimes overly complex plot that, in its essentials, we've seen before, but the striking black-and-white design and committed acting by the prestigious voice talent hold your interest. Action violence, scenes of peril, murder, a brief nongraphic sexual scene, partial nudity elsewhere, some innuendo, and rough and crude language. Spanish titles option. A-III -- adults. (R) (Miramax Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2006
The Scent of Green Papaya
Languid, delicately told tale of a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl servant (Lu Man San) in a 1951 Saigon household and her transfer 10 years later to a home whose master (Vuong Hoa Hoi) decides to marry her (Tran Nu Yen-Khe). Writer-director Tran Anh Hung's Vietnamese production narrowly focuses on the gentle girl's serenity and delight in her daily life without directly alluding to the country's troubled political climate. Subtitles. Some sexual innuendo. A-III -- adults. (N/R) (Lorber Films; also available on Blu-ray) 1993
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.