By John Mulderig
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 rating. These classifications refer only to the theatrical version of the films below, and do not take into account any extra content.
“Let’s Kill Uncle” (1966)
Offbeat British thriller about a young boy (Pat Cardi) who finds out his uncle (Nigel Green) is plotting to murder him and so contrives with his girlfriend (Mary Badham) to kill Uncle. Produced and directed by William Castle, Green is excellent in the preposterous situation, but children may find the suspense a bit too intense. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. Not rated by the Motion Picture Association. (KL Studio Classics; also available on Blu-ray)
“Star Trek Trilogy Collection”
“Star Trek” (2009) is an exhilarating prequel to the franchise as the youthful rabble-rousing James Tiberius Kirk (Chris Pine) forgoes his delinquent ways to join the crew of the Starship Enterprise — including Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban), Uhura (Zoe Saldana), Sulu (James Cho) and Chekhov (Anton Yelchin) — where he soon clashes with rival Spock (Zachary Quinto) until they unite against the vengeful Romulan Nero (Eric Bana), intent on destruction. Director J.J. Abrams breathes new life into the series by skillfully balancing the well-executed action sequences with an absorbing human story, leavened with humor and optimism, and likable characters you care about, though some brief gratuitous sexuality and the use of several expletives restrict this to mature teens and up. Intense but not graphic action violence, a short but frisky bedroom scene with skimpy attire, some crude language and a single profanity, Spanish language option. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013) is director J.J. Abrams’ snappy follow-up to his reboot. In this second chronicle of their early professional lives, dynamic, impetuous Capt. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his seemingly emotionless half-Vulcan, half-human first officer Spock (Zachary Quinto) lead their intrepid crew on a high-stakes, sometimes morally fraught crusade against an intergalactic terrorist (Benedict Cumberbatch). The fundamental message of Abrams’ spectacular adventure — a warning against employing immoral means to overcome evil — is both scripturally resonant and timely. But the parents of teen Trekkies will need to weigh the profit of that lesson against the debit of some sensual imagery and vulgar talk. Possibly acceptable for older adolescents. Much bloodless battling but also occasional harsh violence, some sexual content — including a trio glimpsed waking up together and scenes with skimpy costuming — a few uses of crude language, a half-dozen crass terms. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
The 13th big-screen outing for the sci-fi series, “Star Trek Beyond” (2016), is, overall, a rousing and rambunctious adventure. Capt. James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) of the Starship Enterprise and his crew (including Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Karl Urban) respond to a distress call in a remote part of the galaxy. It’s a trap set by a reptilian megalomaniac (Idris Elba) bent, like many a villain before him, on the wholesale destruction of humanity through use of the ultimate weapon. With its skillful blend of thrills and quieter moments devoted to character development, director Justin Lin’s film could normally be endorsed as a fun popcorn movie, though its action is too intense for kids. However, the inclusion of a scene revealing that helmsman Sulu (John Cho) is gay — he’s briefly shown with a male partner and a young daughter — sets the filmmakers at odds, however incidentally, with Christian values. Given the broad cultural impact of this widely loved franchise, and the clear intent to make a statement, even grown moviegoers need to take note of this unwelcome development. Considerable mostly bloodless violence, including torture, a benign view of homosexual acts, a fleeting sexual reference. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 — parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (Paramount Home Entertainment; also available on Blu-ray)
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.