Brideshead Revisited (1981) PICK
Cars 2 (2011) PASS
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011) PICK
It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) PICK
Toy Story Trilogy 1995-2010) PICK
The final Harry Potter film, Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, is new on home video, along with a nine-disc collection of the complete set for devoted fans. (See DecentFilms.com for more.) I’m not one of the devoted fans, but I enjoyed most of the films — Deathly Hallows: Part 1 being the exception — and, for me, the final film is the best of the lot, with more spectacle, drama and humor than most of the recent installments. Despite some issues, the series goes out on a high note.
On the other hand, Pixar’s Cars 2 was a disappointment of some stature: not terrible by any means, but a generic, mediocre film from a studio with a track record of being better than this. There’s some nice eye candy and decent sequences, but putting Mater at the center of the story is a mistake — and, condescendingly, he doesn’t have to improve or grow. What about “Story is king”? What about “For every laugh, a tear”?
Also from Pixar, and much more worthwhile, is the Toy Story Trilogy. The original Toy Story, the first fully computer-animated feature film ever, is a landmark classic. Toy Story 2 actually outdoes the original, with deeper emotions and an even richer story. Toy Story 3 isn’t quite in the same league as its predecessors, and the third act ventures into darker territory, but it’s a worthy and satisfying conclusion.
Debuting on Blu-ray, the timeless Christmas classic and Vatican film-list honoree It’s a Wonderful Life is essential seasonal viewing and belongs in every home-movie library. Finally, the British-produced made-for-TV Brideshead Revisited, a much-admired take on Catholic author Evelyn Waugh’s epic masterpiece, celebrates its 30th anniversary with a new Blu-ray edition.
CONTENT ADVISORY: Brideshead Revisited: A bedroom scene with partial female nudity; an adulterous relationship; oblique homosexual references; heavy drinking and drunkenness, a racial epithet. Mature viewing. Cars 2: Anthropomorphized vehicular violence (including multicar crashes and car fatalities and a car being tortured and murdered); toilet humor. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows, Part 2: Intense fantasy violence and frightening images; problematic revelations about an immoral act in an earlier film; brief snogging; a few crude terms and cursing. Teens and up. It’s a Wonderful Life: Some tense family scenes; contemplation of suicide; brief inebriation. Toy Story Trilogy: Some scenes of menace and mildly scary imagery; mild veiled innuendo.