DVD/VIDEO REVIEWS Nov-11-2010
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.
Charlie St. Cloud
After losing his younger brother (Charlie Tahan) in a car accident for which he was indirectly responsible, a gifted sailboat racer (Zac Efron), racked by guilt and grief, becomes the caretaker of the cemetery where his sibling rests, on the edge of which, briefly each evening, he is mysteriously able to see and communicate with the lad. But his reclusiveness is challenged when a high school classmate and fellow sailor (Amanda Crew) returns to town and captures his heart. Though unusually spiritual and even explicitly religious, director Burr Steers' melancholy parable, adapted from Ben Sherwood's best-selling 2004 novel, "The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud," never quite jells, despite Efron's sensitive portrayal of his isolated, ethereal character, while the script romanticizes the premature consummation of the scarred youth's potentially life-altering love. Nongraphic premarital sexual activity, a few instances of sexual humor, at least one use of profanity, a couple of crude terms and six crass remarks. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Universal Studios Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
This absorbing documentary focuses on the struggles involved in responding to a religious vocation as it follows a young male novice and a mother superior, both of whom belong to a small community called the Family of Jesus the Healer. When the group's founder relocates them from Tampa, Fla., to Peru to serve that country's poor, both the newcomer and the veteran find it increasingly difficult to balance their calling with family ties and obligations back home. Filmmaker David Ranghelli's moving study of sacred aspirations and of the courageous commitment required to fulfill them is all the more effective for not glossing over the emotional cost a generous answer to God's summons can sometimes exact. While the ultimate decisions made by the people Ranghelli chronicles vary, this remains both an uplifting story for a general audience and an excellent tool for realistic vocations work. A brief discussion regarding chastity. Spanish titles option. A-II -- adults and adolescents. (N/R) (Pleasant Avenue Pictures) (www.thecallingdocumentary.com) 2009
Meandering, scattershot comedy, of interest mainly to devoted Adam Sandler fans, in which co-writer Sandler and director Dennis Dugan set out to tell the tale of five friends (Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider, along with Sandler). All five were once members of a championship private-school basketball team who reunite with their families at a New England lake cabin after their coach dies. This weak entry mostly offers up stale riffs and physical comedy in lieu of a strong story. Some mild sexual and scatological humor, including a running gag about a 4-year-old boy who still breast-feeds, brief rear nudity, fleeting crude and crass language, a few instances of innuendo. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray) 2010
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Widescreen)
Visually splendid adventure tale set in the mythical realm of Middle-earth where a humble Hobbit (Elijah Wood), assisted by eight faithful companions (including Ian McKellen), embarks on a perilous quest to destroy a ring which possess the ultimate source of dark power. Based on the first book of Catholic author J.R.R. Tolkien's trilogy, director Peter Jackson's fantasy is true to the epic struggle of good versus evil and uses magnificent effects and location shots. Yet its myriad characters prove daunting and the narrative grows repetitive. Many scenes of battle violence with several frightening images. Spanish language and titles options.A-III -- adults (PG-13) (New Line Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 2001
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (Widescreen)
Lavish final chapter of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy trilogy set in the mythic realm of Middle-earth. The third film brings to completion the quest of a humble hobbit (Elijah Wood) to destroy the Ring of Power coveted by the dark lord Sauron, while his comrades (including Ian McKellen and Viggo Mortensen) stave off the annihilation of mankind by leading a last-stand resistance against an army of Sauron's evil minions. Seamlessly blending grand-scale special-effects sequences with dramatically nuanced performances, director Peter Jackson scores a crowning achievement, as visually spectacular as it is emotionally satisfying. And though the good-vs.-evil, sword-and-sorcery saga touches on transcendent themes such as mortality, free will and divine providence, the crowded narrative affords little time for clarifying exposition, which may leave those unfamiliar with the books or the two earlier movies overwhelmed. Extended battlefield violence and a few frightening scenes. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (New Line Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 2003
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (Widescreen)
Visually spectacular second installment of J.R.R. Tolkien's epic fantasy trilogy about the struggle between the forces of good and evil, set in the mythical realm of Middle-earth. Director Peter Jackson seamlessly blends breathtaking locations with cutting-edge effects to tell the timeless tale of Frodo (Elijah Wood), the humble hobbit and unlikely hero, and his companions. They all continue their perilous quest to destroy the One Ring, an amulet of unspeakable, seductive power. Many gory scenes of battle violence with several frightening images. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (PG-13) (New Line Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 2002
Ocean's Eleven(50th Anniversary Edition)
Slack crime caper in which a group of World War II paratroop veterans (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Richard Conte, et al.) join in simultaneously robbing five Las Vegas casinos, then lose the loot in a ghoulish twist ending. Producer-director Lewis Milestone drags out the proceedings with less than witty dialogue by the principals and misuse of cameos (notably George Raft, Red Skelton and Angie Dickinson). Rationalization of robbery. Spanish language and titles options. A-III -- adults. (N/R) (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray) 1960
Ramona and Beezus
Gentle, winning comedy about a good-hearted but accident-prone 9-year-old (Joey King) whose antics annoy her more conventional teen sister (Selena Gomez) as their happy existence in an idyllic Portland, Ore., suburb is temporarily overshadowed by their accountant dad's (John Corbett) loss of his job and the resulting mild tensions between him and their mom (Bridget Moynahan). But their existence is brightened again by the rekindled romance between a favorite aunt (Ginnifer Goodwin) and her high school sweetheart (Josh Duhamel). Traditional values and close-knit family relationships reign in director Elizabeth Allen's squeaky-clean, nostalgia-tinted adaptation of Beverly Cleary's best-selling series of children's books. Though nothing very momentous happens, what does take place transpires in the nicest possible way. Spanish titles option. A-I -- general patronage. (G) (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) 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.