National Catholic Register

Arts & Entertainment

Home Video Picks & Passes 11.17.13

BY Steven D. Greydanus

Film Critic

Nov. 17-30, 2013 Issue | Posted 11/11/13 at 4:48 PM

 

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) PICK

Intolerance (1916) PICK

Man of Steel (2013) PASS

Nosferatu (1922) PICK

Two new Hollywood blockbusters and two classic, silent Vatican film list honorees are among the latest arrivals to home video.

Peter Jackson’s spectacular, bloated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey arrives in multiple editions and versions. (See my full review at NCRegister.com.) New material includes more of Tolkien’s verse. Alas, there’s also more panto-style humor, including an exchange in which Kili talks about why he doesn’t "fancy Elf maids" before comically mistaking a male Elf for a maid. Still worth watching.

Then there’s Man of Steel, Zack Snyder’s gritty, action-packed Superman reboot starring Henry Cavill. Too action-packed: From Russell Crowe’s dragon-riding Jor-El battling Michael Shannon’s Zod to the climactic urban destruction, the exhausting action never lets up. And it’s not uplifting: Clark’s morality and concern for life are more talked about than developed. If you need more convincing, see my full review at NCRegister.com.

And the Blu-ray debuts I’m really excited about: both silent classics, justly honored on the 1995 Vatican film list. Intolerance is D.W. Griffith’s landmark anthology film and the silent era’s greatest spectacle, a grandiose composite epic interweaving four separate morality plays from different eras and settings, from 20th-century America to Old Testament times. There’s also a brief life-of-Christ thread and a 16th-century French story. The film’s moral glosses aren’t always convincing, but the effect of juxtaposing the four narratives, especially in the last act, is brilliant.  

Finally, oddly missing a Halloween release date, Kino debuts Nosferatu on Blu-ray, newly mastered in HD, with newly translated English subtitles for the original German intertitles. With Max Schreck’s iconic performance as Count Orlock, Nosferatu is not the scariest, but the most haunting, vampire movie ever made, presenting a deeply unsettling image of evil.

 

Caveat Spectator: All suitable for teens and up. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Intense fantasy-action violence; scary images and creature menace; some rude humor; a few drug references. Intolerance: Sometimes graphic battlefield violence; fleeting nudity and discreet sexual references. Nosferatu: Macabre menace and unsettling imagery.