Weekly DVD Picks & Passes 05.23.2010

The Karate Kid (1984) PICK

The Magnificent Seven

Collection (1960-1972) PASS

Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003) PICK

Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmeron (2002) PASS

Stagecoach (1939) PICK

Toy Story (1995) PICK

Toy Story 2 (1999) PICK

Western fans rejoice! John Ford’s Stagecoach, the “first adult Western” and a Vatican-list film, is new this week from the Criterion Collection in Blu-ray and DVD. Going beyond the clichés of the genre to date, Stagecoach reinvented the Western in a more durable and serious form, giving it new life for decades.

Newly restored by Criterion, Stagecoach hasn’t looked this good since 1939. Bonus features include an informative commentary by Western expert Jim Kitses, a 44-minute silent Western directed by Ford, a 1968 interview with Ford, and a number of new video segments, including an interview with Ford’s grandson and a tribute to Yakima Canutt, whose groundbreaking stunt work revolutionized movie action — and much more! A must-have.

Another Western release, MGM’s four-disc Blu-ray set The Magnificent Seven Collection, boxes John Sturges’ The Magnificent Seven with its three sequels, all by different directors. Not in the same league as Stagecoach, Sturges’ film remains entertaining today, but the sequels are less so — and considerably more violent. Pass on the set.

I don’t need to tell you about the Toy Story movies, do I? Everyone knows how great they are, right? New DVD special editions are available if you don’t have ’em already (but why wouldn’t you?).

What you might not know is that DreamWorks’ underrated Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas — now in a budget DVD edition for under $10 — is the best animated swashbuckler ever, with a rousing blend of Arabian folklore and Greek mythology. Spectacular action set pieces complement a remarkably strong moral theme, in which the hero’s flaws are exposed, and redemption requires sacrifice.

Do not make the mistake of picking up DreamWorks Animation’s other budget release, the similarly titled Spirit: Stallion of the Cimmeron. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Finally, some 1980s’ nostalgia. Getting a jump on the remake in theaters next month, the original The Karate Kid comes to Blu-ray, along with superfluous sequels. The original is still the best of the Rocky clones.

Then there’s The Greatest American Hero: The Complete Series from Mill Creek Entertainment, featuring all three seasons of the oddball TV show. I enjoyed it when it debuted, though I haven’t seen it as an adult and don’t know how well it holds up.

Content advisory: The Karate Kid: Recurring bullying; stylized martial-arts sequences; some objectionable language. Teens and up. Sinbad: Intense animated swashbuckling action; mild innuendo and sensuality. Might be okay for older kids. Stagecoach: Frontier gunplay and cowboy-Indian-type violence; much drinking from a perpetually boozy character; oblique references to a female character’s unseemly past. Teens and up. Toy Story and Toy Story 2: Some scenes of menace. Some scary imagery in the original might be too much for sensitive youngsters.