Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Apollo 13 (1995)
The Lord of the Rings: Theatrical Editions (2001-2003)
The Lord of the Rings (1978)
New on Blu-ray, Peter Jackson’s blockbuster fantasy trilogy The Lord of the Rings comes in a whopping nine-disc box set featuring the original theatrical editions of the films — not the “Extended Edition” versions previously released on DVD. Fans devoted to the extended editions will have to wait for a Blu-ray release closer to the theatrical release of The Hobbit, now in early development.
Also available in separate Blu-ray and DVD editions, Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated The Lord of the Rings is an ambitious, uneven stab at The Lord of the Rings with a number of limitations — notably that it’s only half the story. It was originally intended as part one of a two-film adaptation, but the sequel was never made. Still worth a look — and there’s another cartoon, the Rankin-Bass Return of the King, that more or less finishes the story.
Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 comes to Blu-ray. It’s a wonderfully low-key, documentary-like tribute to the generation that went to the moon and back simply because they could — brilliant men calculating outer-space trajectories on the fly with pencils and slide rules, keeping life and limb together literally with duct tape.
In an age of GPS and computerized directions across town, it’s an almost mythic scenario.
Celebrating its un-anniversary, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland returns to DVD. A trippy romp from the era of Disney professionalism, Alice isn’t as brilliant as early masterpieces like Bambi or Pinocchio, and the material doesn’t mesh with the studio’s strengths like Sleeping Beauty, though the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and the Mad Hatter all have good moments.
Fortuitously capitalizing on the success of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Burton’s well-regarded 1989 Batman comes to Blu-ray, along with all three sequels. I’m a fan of none of these movies, though.
Critics adored Batman for its eccentric take on a pop-culture icon and Jack Nicholson’s showy performance. But it’s got no heart or soul; Michael Keaton barely registers in costume or out and as Batman he’s willing to kill. Even Nicholson is all wrong as the Joker. Still, it’s his movie; it should have been called Joker.
Bonus Blu-ray Picks: Gone with the Wind (1939); The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), The Natural (1984) and Cocoon (1985).
Content advisory: The Lord of the Rings (2001–2003): Intense, graphic violence; menace and monster grotesquerie. Teens and up. The Lord of the Rings (1978): Menace and scary imagery; realistic animated battlefield violence. Okay for older kids. Apollo 13: Recurring profanity and a crude reference; brief clinical bathroom content, brief innuendo and mild sexual content (nothing explicit). Teens and up. Alice in Wonderland: Mild animated menace. Okay family viewing.