By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service
NEW YORK (CNS) — The following are capsule reviews from Catholic News Service of new and recent video releases available on DVD and/or Blu-ray — as well as for online viewing. Theatrical movies have a Catholic News Service classification and Motion Picture Association of America rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account any extra content.
"The Disappointments Room" (2016)
A combination of psychological drama and the dependable haunted-house formula that turns into a complete botch. A grieving architect (Kate Beckinsale) moves to a creaky old mansion with her husband and young son to restore her mental health following the death of their infant daughter, but she ends up confronting ghosts of the original residents. Director D.J. Caruso, who co-wrote the screenplay with Wentworth Miller, puts characters in peril a few times, but relies on cliches, including a possessed black dog and even bats in the attic. A scene of attempted suicide, occasional gore, physical violence, fleeting rough and crude language. Spanish titles option. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
"The Magnificent Seven" (2016)
After a ruthless gold-mining mogul (Peter Sarsgaard) uses his private army of thugs to slaughter several inhabitants of a frontier town in cold blood, and threatens the survivors with a similar fate unless they sell their land to him for a pittance, the widow (Haley Bennett) of one of his victims hires a roving lawman (Denzel Washington) to organize resistance. The result is a motley band of skilled gunmen (most prominently Chris Pratt and Ethan Hawke) and an extended shoot-’em-up showdown. At once violent and somewhat thoughtful, director Antoine Fuqua’s jaunty Western, the remake of a 1960 film that was itself an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s "Seven Samurai" from 1954, pauses occasionally to reflect on the dividing line between justice and vengeance. It also features Christian references and imagery as well as examples of devotion ranging from the sincere to the eccentric. Though it’s a chivalrous parable that presents Catholic theology’s just-war theory in microcosm and showcases self-sacrificing heroism, its pervasive mayhem will nonetheless seem unjustified to some. Constant stylized violence with gunplay and explosions but very little blood, several uses of profanity, a couple of mild oaths, numerous crude and crass expressions. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
Occasionally funny but mostly awkward animated comedy in which the plans of an ambitious stork (voice of Andy Samberg) who’s been tapped by his boss (voice of Kelsey Grammer) to take over the big-box store shipping system his breed now operates in lieu of delivering babies are derailed when a human orphan (voice of Katie Crown) who was long ago stranded among the birds accidentally sets their disused infant manufacturing machinery to work. Together the duo scramble to get the child thus produced to her destined parents (voices of Jennifer Aniston and Ty Burrell) and young brother (voiced by Anton Starkman) before the potentially career-ruining mistake can be discovered. Their odyssey is leavened with some positive, arguably pro-life, values and a clever turn by Stephen Kramer Glickman voicing the office nuisance who becomes the villain of the piece. But the intrusion of the gay agenda into the final moments of directors Nicholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland’s film (Stoller also wrote the screenplay) makes it completely unsuitable for its target audience of kids. Given the implicit equation of same-sex coupling with racial and ethnic diversity, and an unspoken endorsement of out-of-wedlock conception, even teens who are not well catechized should keep their distance. Fleeting visuals endorsing homosexual acts and unwed motherhood, some potentially scary situations. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children. (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray)
Satisfying profile of US Airways pilot Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger (Tom Hanks), whose 2009 feat in landing his crippled plane on the Hudson
River and saving the lives of all on board gained him instant fame. Though immediately embraced as a hero by the public, behind the scenes he was second-guessed by federal investigators (led by Mike O’Malley) and tortured by self-doubt. In adapting Sullenberger’s memoir "Highest Duty," director Clint Eastwood maintains a surprisingly sober tone overall, though there are also moments of enjoyable wit. What emerges is the portrait of a morally deep-rooted and honorable man whose heartfelt concern for those in his charge is matched by his appreciative attitude toward his co-pilot (Aaron Eckhart) and the mutually supportive love he shares with his wife (Laura Linney). Despite some salty language, these ethical assets make the film possibly acceptable for older adolescents. Potentially disturbing scenes of peril and destruction, at least one use each of profanity and the F-word, about a dozen crude or crass terms. Spanish language and titles options. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Warner Home Video; also available on Blu-ray)
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.