DVD & Blu-ray

DVD — Latest

Babette’s Feast (1987)

A+ | **** | +4| Kids & Up

New on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection, Babette’s Feast is a feast in itself, for the heart, the senses, and above all the spirit.  Read more >

Blu-ray: Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989)

A | **** | +2| Kids & Up

A loosely structured coming-of-age story, Kiki’s Delivery Service features one of Miyazaki’s most personable protagonists, a delightful cast of supporting characters, and a rambling, episodic storyline full of charming incident and irresistible imagery. Read more >

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

A | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up

Wait, where did this movie come from? Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is so not the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes I expected or was prepared for. Read more >

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

A- | Teens & Up

If you’re not into turtles, and you have half a brain, this may be the movie for you. Read more >

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

C+ | **½ | +1-2| Kids & Up*

The first film related how Hiccup changed his village’s way of life forever, winning the love of the girl of his dreams, the approval of his authoritarian father and the respect of everyone in town — not to mention the loyalty of his magnificent new draconian friend, Toothless. Where do you go from there? Read more >

When the Game Stands Tall

C+ | ** | +2| Teens & Up

Sports movies love underdogs scrapping their way to the top. When the Game Stands Tall is about what happens when a ridiculously successful team finally stumbles. Read more >

DVD — Recent

Amazing Spider-Man 2, The (2014)

B+ | *** | +2| Teens & Up

The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s biggest liability is that it follows The Amazing Spider-Man. This sequel is so much better than its predecessor that I’ve gone from being merely disappointed with the 2012 reboot to being downright angry about it. Read more >

Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

B | *** | +2| Teens & Up

Why would a mother at the zoo throw her toddler over a railing into the moat of a lion enclosure? That’s the kind of horrible question that can look very different if you are a police officer or a priest. Read more >

Erin Brockovich [Blu-ray] (2000)

B | *** | +2-2| Adults

Watching Erin take on corporate ruthlessness and professional apathy, I often felt that while I couldn’t always condone her choice of words, I appreciated the spirit behind them — not to mention the effect they had on her hapless victims. This movie makes you feel that one person really can make a difference; especially since it’s based on a true story. Read more >

Ernest & Celestine (2014)

A- | Kids & Up

I can’t imagine the soul who could watch this movie without smiling.  Read more >

God’s Not Dead [video] (2014)

D | Teens & Up

I took two minutes to talk about this one, and still got in less than half of what bothered me about it. Read more >

Hercules (2014)

D+ | Teens & Up

A question I couldn’t get to in 60 seconds: What’s the real story with the creepy, green spaced-out tribal warriors? Can anyone explain that? Read more >

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

B+ | *** | +0| Kids & Up*

“Vikings versus dragons” is definitely one of the cooler premises for a computer-animated tale to come along in a while. Differentiate the dragons into half a dozen distinct species, each with unique traits, from the roly-poly Gronkle to the two-headed Hideous Zippleback and the stealthy, jet-black Night Fury, and it’s even cooler — especially if the dragons are ordinary beasties rather than anthropomorphized talking monsters.  Read more >

Ida (2013)

A- | Teens & Up*

A Polish nun embarks on a trip of discovery in this gorgeous black-and-white period piece. Read more >

LEGO Movie, The (2014)

B+ | ***½ | +1| Kids & Up

Here is something I didn’t see coming: The freshest, most unique animated family film from any Hollywood studio in well over a year is … based on a line of brightly colored plastic construction blocks and assorted accessories. I’m not kidding! Read more >

Maleficent (2014)

D | | -2| Kids & Up*

It’s fair to say that Disney’s Maleficent plays to an extent as warmed-over Frozen. This is not a good thing, even, I think, if you are a fan of Frozen. Read more >

Noah (2014)

B+ | ***½ | +2-2| Teens & Up*

Noah is available on home video in a number of different editions, each with different bonus features. My review copy of the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Video edition includes a trio of extras comprising an hour-long making-of featurette in three 20-minute chapters.  Read more >

Noah (2014)

B+ | ***½ | +2-2| Teens & Up*

Darren Aronofsky’s Noah pays its source material a rare compliment: It takes Genesis seriously as a landmark of world literature and ancient moral reflection, and a worthy source of artistic inspiration in our day. Read more >

Pickpocket [Blu-ray] (1959)

B+ | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up

Does Michel want to be caught? Does he taunt the inspector because he feels untouchable, or is there another reason? As always, Bresson examines actions but offers little attention to motives, an approach that here seems to suggest that Michel’s choices may be a mystery even to himself, his threadbare theorizing only rationalization. Read more >

Planes: Fire & Rescue (2014)

C | ** | -1| Kids & Up

With this sequel to last summer’s spin-off from the franchise that descended from Pixar’s Cars, the World of Cars has left behind not only stock cars, the open road, specific real-world settings and Larry the Cable Guy, but racing itself. Practically nothing is left of John Lasseter’s original vision, except those blasted windshield eyeballs. In this melancholy year without Pixar, it’s worse than no reminder at all. Read more >

Snowpiercer [video] (2014)

B- | Adults

This is the summer’s most thought-provoking action movie. Read more >

Son of God (2014)

B- | Teens & Up

After ten years, Jesus is back on the big screen. Was it worth the wait? Son of God: my “Reel Faith” review. Read more >

Spectacular Spider-Man: The Complete Series, The [Blu-ray]

At last, a proper release for the entire “Spectacular Spider-Man” series is available, in a four-disc Blu-ray set. There are no new bonus features or commentaries, but it’s nice to have the whole set in one box. Bizarrely, you still can’t buy season 2 as such on DVD.  Read more >

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron [Blu-ray] (2002)

D+ | ** | -1| Kids & Up

A strangely grim indoctrination into the politics of victimization, Spirit apparently expects kids to slog willingly through scene after scene of this stuff, not because it’s all such fun to watch, but because the filmmakers are so sure it’s Good For You. Read more >

X-Men Origins: Wolverine [Blu-ray] (2009)

C+ | **½ | +0| Teens & Up

If you’re a fan of the material, you’ll want to see it. There are some decent action scenes, and an inevitable, tragic climax. There are also things that make no sense. It’s not bad, really. What it’s most conspicuously lacking is any sense of surprise, of revelation, of creative boldness.  Read more >

X-Men [Blu-ray] (2000)

A- | ***½ | +0| Teens & Up*

This is a world in which characters are not larger-than-life cardboard cutouts, but human beings with affecting problems, motives, conflicts, and interests; in which opposing ideas are at least as important as clashing super-powers or martial-arts moves; in which super-powers and special abilities are more than mere arbitrary plot shortcuts or empty pretexts for colorful special effects, but are treated thoughtfully as serious story elements with logical consequences in immediate events and also wider social implications. Read more >

X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

A- | ***½ | +2| Teens & Up

X-Men: Days of Future Past is one of the geekiest comic-book movies ever made — and one of the best. It’s easily the best superhero movie since The Avengers — and, like The Avengers, it plays as a triumphant climax to an uneven series of earlier films. Read more >

X-Men: First Class (2011)

A- | ***½ | +1-2| Teens & Up*

Despite missteps, X‑Men: First Class succeeds in doing in some measure for the X‑Men what J. J. Abrams did for Star Trek two years ago: Not only does it bring new energy to a tired franchise, it reinvents a familiar cast of characters in unexpected ways, laying the foundations for the defining relationships and conflicts of later chapters, while telling a ripping story into the bargain. Read more >

X2: X-Men United [Blu-ray] (2003)

A- | ***½ | +1-2| Teens & Up*

Where other super-hero movies, like James Bond movies, take place in a static universe in which nothing really changes and the essential mythology remains the same, X2 is set in a world in flux. The plot is part of an ongoing story-arc reaching back to X-Men and building toward a future X3.  Read more >

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