Oceans (2009)

Green Zone (2010)

Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for

Lambkind (2010)

Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories

Collection (1938-1948)


From the directors of Winged Migration, Oceans, new on DVD from Disneynature, offers some surprises even for veteran nature documentary lovers.

There are plenty of familiar sights: a mother humpback whale lifting her calf to the surface for a breath of air; turtle hatchlings herky-jerking toward the sea while frigatebirds pick them off; orcas surging out of the surf to snatch fur seals from the shallows.

But there’s also the never-seen spectacle of a feeding blue whale, the silken splendor of the blanket octopus and ribbon eel, and my new favorite freaky thing: the wack-eyed mantis shrimp.

Pierce Brosnan reads the clunky narration, which tries too hard to be impressive. Audiences probably know to expect discussion of global warming and diminishing Arctic ice; there’s also satellite footage of pollutants from rivers gushing into the ocean and images of animals mucking about in detritus-choked waters. Mostly gorgeous stuff though, and well worth seeing all in all.

Also new on DVD, Paul Greengrass’ Green Zone stars Matt Damon in an Iraqi war movie about the 2003 search for WMDs. While players and plot points may seem familiar, problematic fictionalizations abound: Unrepentant New York Times journalist Judith Miller, whose botched reportage pressed the case for war, becomes chastened Wall Street Journal writer Lawrie Dayne; controversial coalition honcho Paul Bremer becomes scapegoat villain Clark Poundstone (Greg Kinnear), who falsifies intelligence.

One critic put the problem this way: “Imagine an ultra-realistic World War II movie about America’s supreme commander in the Pacific, only his name is Shmouglas ShmacArthur and he turns out to be Japanese.” A friend put it more succinctly: Green Zone reduces everything to “Greg Kinnear lied; people died” — and lets everyone else off the hook.

Shaun the Sheep: One Giant Leap for Lambkind is the latest Region 1 collection of the Aardman Animations’ character’s adventures in British television. Six more episodes from the farm include a couple of encounters with one-eyed space aliens, a bull that sees red, a bout with the hiccups, hazards of fresh concrete and a showdown over the fate of a tree. Familiar cartoon fodder gets a uniquely Aardman stamp. Great family fun!

Finally, the three-disc set Bob Hope: Thanks for the Memories Collection from Universal is a great introduction to the legendary entertainer. Of the six featured films, Thanks for the Memory (1938), The Cat and the Canary (1939) and Nothing but the Truth (1941) are new to DVD; the set also includes The Ghost Breakers (1940), Road to Morocco (1942) and The Paleface (1948). Classic stuff.

Content advisory: Oceans: Fairly mild scenes of predation and a few distressing images of animals trapped in fishing nets. Fine family viewing. Shaun the Sheep: Mild slapstick. Fine family viewing. Bob Hope Collection: Mild innuendo and romantic complications; comic menace and violence. Teens and up.