National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Picks & Passes 10.9.11

BY Steven D. Greydanus

Register Film Critic

Oct. 9-22, 2011 Issue | Posted 10/3/11 at 4:44 PM


Family Man (2000) PASS

Green Lantern (2011) PICK

The Lion King (1994) PICK

The Tree of Life (2011) PICK

Zookeeper (2011) PASS

One of the year’s most ambitious, philosophically fraught movies comes to home video this week: Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, a grand opus about a dysfunctional Texas family, the Big Bang, dinosaurs, the heat death of the universe, God, the magic of childhood, the problem of evil, nature and grace, and heaven, maybe. A deeply polarizing film, The Tree of Life has awed and thrilled some, bored and frustrated others. I think I’m in both camps. The one thing I can say for sure: After two viewings, I’m glad I’ve seen it, and I’ll certainly be seeing it again.

Another week, another superhero release: Green Lantern joins Thor in the no-great-shakes department, but comic-book fans will enjoy its straight-faced storytelling to the computer-augmented hyperreality of the production design. An Iron Man-style redemption arc isn’t really convincing, but there are some decent redemptive flashes and some funny moments.

Roaring back to the top of the box office last month, Disney’s ambitious The Lion King is newly available in multiple editions, including a four-disc, 3-D Blu-ray/DVD set. Much beloved by family audiences, it’s definitely worth catching, although I think it’s overrated. Sure, it’s got a majestic opening sequence and a plot of Hamlet-like tensions. But poor, boring Simba is no Hamlet. After “The Circle of Life,” the songs are forgettable.

Finally, a pair of unpleasant “family” film releases to avoid. Family Man gives unmarried jet-setter Nicolas Cage a vision of a domestic life he could have had with Téa Leoni, but the half-hearted pro-family theme is unconvincing, and, in the end, whether they get together or not, that alternate life is gone forever. Boo. Worse is Zookeeper, a truly dreadful talking-animal comedy full of inappropriate humor and disturbing messages. Who thought it was funny/appropriate that when Kevin James verbally abuses Leslie Bibb this makes him attractive to her?

Bonus Blu-ray Picks: Disney’s Beauty and the Beast gets a five-disc, 3-D Blu-ray/DVD combo edition. Also, BBC’s magisterial high-definition Planet Earth series is now available in a new “Special Edition” Blu-ray set with all-new special features.

Content advisory: Green Lantern: Action violence and some scary/gruesome images; a nonmarital morning-after scene (nothing explicit) and references to a character’s promiscuous behavior; profanity and crass language. The Lion King: Animated menace and violence; brief insectivore grossness; vague mysticism. The Tree of Life: Family tensions, including brief, abusive roughness between the father and his sons and wife; some sexually charged material. (The Lion King might be a bit much for sensitive youngsters; all others might be okay for teens and up.)