Alice in Wonderland (2010)

All Creatures Great & Small:

Complete Collection (1978)
Invictus (2009)
Justice League: The Complete Series (2001)
Peanuts 1970’s Collection Vol. 2

James Herriot fans rejoice! The complete BBC series All Creatures Great & Small returns to DVD in a lavish 28-disc set from BBC Warner. Comprising all seven seasons and three Christmas specials, the complete collection is pricey (over $300), but you can pick up individual seasons for about $35 apiece. (You might start with the first three seasons: The initial run was most directly related to the life of veterinarian-author James Herriott.)

Much beloved of animal lovers and Anglophiles, “All Creatures” is delightfully true to the spirit and the milieu of Herriott’s semiautobiographical tales, filmed in North Yorkshire, where the stories are set, for an authentic sense of time and place.

The middle seasons are a bit soap-operatic (if that’s the word), but the early and final seasons keep the focus on the animals. Herriott’s gentle morals are part of the program’s warp and woof, making gratifying viewing.

Other recent releases:

Clint Eastwood’s Invictus stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as South African rugby star François Pienaar, who led South Africa to World Cup glory in 1995. Sports movies are always about the game that’s more than a game, and this World Cup is more than a World Cup: The players are playing for the soul of the nation at a critical turning point.

Racial tensions run high in all levels of society as Mandela takes office. Symbolism is substance: Mandela sees black South African spectators rooting against the green and white, and argues against changing the team’s colors … then impresses on Pienaar the importance of reaching out to all South Africans. Sometimes too obvious (as is the director’s wont), Invictus is well-made, uplifting entertainment.

Super-hero fans won’t want to miss the 15-disc Justice League: The Complete Series, comprising the full “Justice League” and “Justice League Unlimited” runs. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman lead DC’s greatest heroes in surprisingly complex and mature (but still usually family-friendly) adventures.

Charles Schulz fans can happily add Peanuts 1970’s Collection Vol. 2 to the previous sets. Highlights in the typically bittersweet fare include the romantic doubleheader “Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown” and “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown” (introducing the little red-haired girl!) and “It’s Arbor Day, Charlie Brown” (with Sally’s classic line about “the ships sailing into the arbor”).

Finally, Lewis Carroll fans weep: Tim Burton does Carroll wrong in Alice in Wonderland. I won’t recount the sordid details here; see the full review at NCRegister.com.

CONTENT ADVISORY: All Creatures: Some earthy humor and other mild issues; generally fine family viewing. Invictus: Some sports roughness; brief rioting violence; some cursing and crude language. Teens and up. Justice League: Sometimes intense animated menace and action violence; innuendo, oblique allusions to a live-in relationship. Teens and up. Peanuts: Nothing objectionable. Fine family viewing.