National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Blu-ray/DVD Picks & Passes 12.02.12

BY Steven D. Greydanus

Film Critic

December 2-15, 2012 Issue | Posted 11/21/12 at 4:28 PM


Cinderella (1950) PICK

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) PICK

Men in Black 3 (2012) PASS

New editions of classic films are the best bets among the latest home-video releases. Vatican-film list honoree Lawrence of Arabia is now available in a new "restored edition" of the director’s cut of the film, newly restored and remastered from the original negatives.

Based on the autobiography of eccentric, flamboyant WWI-era British officer T. E. Lawrence, who aided the Arab Bedouin against the German-allied Turks, David Lean’s nearly four-hour epic is most often praised, justly so, for its magnificent desert cinematography, sweeping score and career-defining performance from Peter O’Toole.

But attention should also be given to the screenplay, adapted by first-time screenwriter Robert Bolt, who later wrote A Man for All Seasons and The Mission. Note: Extensive bonus features include a notable deleted scene with some of what Bolt felt was his best dialogue.

Out of the Disney vault, Cinderella is back on DVD, and there’s a recent Blu-ray/DVD combo edition as well (that would be the one to get, in my opinion).

Though not Disney’s finest hour, Cinderella is an honorable rendition of the fairy tale and a worthwhile family classic. Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo is a standout number (the other songs are less than classic), and while the mice steal too much of the story, the essential magic of the fairy tale is intact.  

By all means, though, skip the new home-video combo editions of the direct-to-video sequels Cinderella II and Cinderella III. What part of "happily ever after" was confusing to the Mouse House?

Diverting but skippable, Men in Black 3 is a definite improvement on the dismal first sequel, but it still falls short of the sharp, funny original. On the plus side, sending Will Smith’s Agent J back in time to 1969 to connect with a young agent K (Josh Brolin as a young Tommy Lee Jones) is the best idea the franchise has had since the original.

On the down side, comedian Jemaine Clement is wasted as a villain who isn’t funny or interesting. (Remember Vincent D’Onofrio in the original?) Also, Agent K’s emotional back story (the lifelong love he left behind then reconnected with at the end) is essentially written out of the story. Meh.

Bonus Picks: Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Up! are among the studio’s best and most beloved films — though be aware that if you purchase the new five-disc 3-D Blu-ray/DVD combo editions of these films, you’ll need a 3-D Blu-ray player to watch them in 3-D.


Content Advisory: Cinderella: Nothing objectionable. Fine family viewing. Lawrence of Arabia: Recurring battlefield violence; implied sexual violence. Might be okay for mature teens. Men in Black 3: Semi-comic fantasy violence with (mostly alien) gore; icky creature effects; brief suggestive content, sensuality and innuendo; some profanity and crass language. Teens and up.