The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) PICK
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (2010) PASS
Tron: Legacy (2010) PASS
Blu-ray: Lars and the Real Girl PICK
Blu-ray/DVD: Cars (2006) PICK
Blu-ray/DVD: The Incredibles (2004) PICK
Blu-ray: Peter Pan (2003) PICK
Blu-ray: Babe (1995) PICK
Blu-ray: Much Ado About Nothing (1993) PICK
The latest effects-heavy adaptations from C. S. Lewis’ and J. K. Rowling’s tales are both among this week’s crop of recent releases on home video, along with a sequel to the film that kicked off Hollywood’s love affair with computerized fantasy worlds.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, directed by Michael Apted (Amazing Grace), charts a course even further from Lewis’ stories than previous installments, yet it’s arguably more entertaining in its own right than its predecessors. At least the characters are more enjoyable this time around, with less unpleasant bickering and angst and some well-done sequences.
Then again, if you like bickering and angst, you might enjoy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. I certainly didn’t; for my money, it’s the weakest, least interesting film in the series. Harry regresses as a character, and Hermione and Ron have all the chemistry of Anakin and Amidala. Add some Twilight-y sensuality and a disturbing opening in which Hermione hexes her own parents, and you’ve got an eminently skippable film.
Duller still, if possible, is Tron: Legacy, a big-budget spectacle that pushes the effects envelope without managing more than one halfway interesting scene.
But older releases on Blu-ray are a veritable feast. For family audiences, there’s Babe, a true classic that stands tail and trotters over the likes of Charlotte’s Web and Gordy (both also available on Blu-ray); Pixar’s masterpiece The Incredibles and their charming Cars; and the somewhat magical live-action Peter Pan. For adults, I recommend Lars and the Real Girl (first see my DecentFilms.com review) and Kenneth Branagh’s entertaining Shakespearean romp Much Ado About Nothing.
CONTENT ADVISORY: Family viewing: Babe (some menace and animal fighting; a fleeting misuse of God’s name); Cars (anthropomorphic racecar mayhem; mild crude humor; oblique double entendres). Might be too much for sensitive youngsters: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (fantasy action and violence and some menace to children); The Incredibles (intense, sometimes deadly action violence; brief appearance of romantic complications; limited profanity); Peter Pan (mild menace, swashbuckling and sometimes comic, sometimes fatal violence). Mature viewing: Lars and the Real Girl (some innuendo and sexual comments, including oblique references to disordered sexual acts; a couple of profanities and inappropriate mock event held in a church); Much Ado About Nothing (some sexual content; brief rear nudity).