National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

DVD Picks & Passes 06.07.2009

BY Steven D. Greydanus

June 7-13, 2009 Issue | Posted 5/29/09 at 3:57 PM


Journey Into Amazing Caves (2001) -Pick

Amazing Journeys (2002) -Pick

Seabiscuit (2003) -Pick

Cinderella Man (2005) -Pick

Take an “Amazing Journey” with either of two 40-minute IMAX documentaries recently released on DVD and/or Blu-ray.

Amazing Journeys, from Razor Digital Entertainment, is a well-produced documentary short on animal migration, from the monarch butterflies converging on sanctuaries in Mexico to the massive caravans of zebra and wildebeest in Africa.

Part of what makes Amazing Journeys different from similar material in Planet Earth and other comprehensive series is the way it touches on the interaction of humans with animal migration.

Most memorably, the annual Easter Island parade of red hermit crabs traipses across golf courses and into people’s homes; children step over boards set across the doorways of schools to keep out the intruders and even play with the harmless crustaceans. In the Pacific, whale watchers lean out of small boats hoping for migrating mama and baby gray whales to come close enough to touch, and one orphaned calf is rescued and nursed back to health at Sea World.

Journey Into Amazing Caves, from Image Entertainment, is even more a story of human beings interacting with the natural world. Amazing Caves is as much a story of amazing cave divers as the caves themselves — spelunking scientists who make daredevil forays into perilously unstable glacier caves and unnervingly narrow subterranean waterways.

Why do they do it? For microbiologist Hazel Barton, the lure is biodiversity — the hope of discovering new extremophiles and other marginal life forms hidden from the world, some of which may advance medical research and lead to curing diseases. For cave rescue specialist Nancy Aulenbach, there’s also the allure of exploring remote passages previously untouched by human beings. Breezy and informal, Amazing Caves is narrated by Liam Neeson and scored by the Moody Blues.

Also recently released on Blu-ray are a pair of inspiring Depression-era films about real-life comeback underdogs who triumph over crippling injuries, inspiring a nation of down-on-their-luck fans.

Cinderella Man stars Russell Crowe as boxer Jimmy Braddock, a down-and-out but honorable boxer who battles his way back to provide for his family. Noteworthy scenes include a positive depiction of a priest and his parishioners gathered around a radio during the climactic fight praying for their hero.

Seabiscuit tells the story of an injured thoroughbred nursed back to take on bigger and better-bred horses. Other than one unfortunate scene set in a brothel, it’s uplifting entertainment.

CONTENT ADVISORY: Amazing Journeys: Some graphic scenes of predation; brief account of superstitious notions in connection with the Mexican “Day of the Dead.” Generally fine family viewing. Journey Into Amazing Caves: Nothing problematic. Fine family viewing. Cinderella Man: Much brutal pugilism violence; recurring profanity; mild sensuality; a couple of sleazy taunts. Might be okay for older teens. Seabiscuit: A brothel sequence with some comically intended lewd behavior and a bedroom scene (no explicit nudity); remarriage after divorce; implied induced vomiting for weight loss; crude language and profanity; sports-related violence and injuries. Mature viewing.