New in Home Entertainment – May 20, 2014

New in Home Entertainment

May 20, 2014

Rated PG-13 for intense battle sequences, disaster-related action and brief sexual content
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D

The first I had ever heard of Pompeii was in my 20s on a trip to Rome.  This was around the time of the Titanic release and my head quickly said – this would make a great Titanic-like love story.  After all, love with impending disaster seems to be a recipe for success.  Now, almost 20 years later, comes the movie Pompeii, which follows a young gladiator slave who falls in love with a wealthy young woman in Pompeii, right as Mount Vesuvius is about to blow.  The production itself is actually really well-done and from what I’ve researched, presents a very accurate reproduction of what Pompeii looked like back in the day.  Unfortunately the story is a mess and the acting suffers because of it.  I’m sure someone pitched it as Gladiator meets Titanic and then the screenwriters did just that – without an ounce of originality aside from the apparent factually incorrect disaster sequence.  It’s a shame the movie couldn’t have met the same fate as the city.  D

Monuments Men
Rated PG-13 for some images of war violence and historical smoking
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Yet another instance of a great story, poorly served by its screenplay.  This time the writer is George Clooney (who also directs and stars).  The cast is remarkable with Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin and many other talented actors.  But telling the true story of the men and woman who were responsible for rescuing mountains of Europe’s greatest artistic treasures from the Nazis during WWII comes off as noble but rather boring.  The pacing is slow and the talents of the cast come off as way underutilized.  If you find the subject interesting, make sure to check out the masterful 2007 documentary “The Rape of Europa” which explores the Nazi Party’s fascinating art obsession.  C+

God Loves Uganda
Unrated but contains strong graphic content
Available on DVD

To get a 100% Rotten Tomato score is no easy feat, but you’ll quickly understand how God Loves Uganda achieved this after watching.  This 2013 documentary explores the work of American evangelical Christians in Uganda and how they managed to convince the Ugandan government to create harsh laws, including the death penalty, against the gays and lesbians.  The surprising thing about the doc is that it doesn’t roast the young Christian missionaries, but rather tries hard to show their integrity and their hearts.  But at the same time it demonstrates the evil of their impact and the lack of love and understanding shown to the people who they are successfully influencing.  It is a heart-breaking movie that will open a lot of eyes to the injustices occurring within this African country.  A

American Jesus
Available on DVD

In this documentary, Spanish filmmaker Aram Garriga attempts to show his audience the many ways that modern-day Americans practice their Christianity.  It is a fascinating look at what not only makes Christianity unique as a religion but what makes America unique as a country.  While the many different viewpoints and ministries might frustrate some conservative believers, many others, like myself, will be fascinated by the many different pathways there are to Jesus.  I’ll admit that some of these might seem kind of whacky (I just can’t understand dancing with a rattlesnake or tearing phone books for worship), but they are all treated with respect and seriousness within the confines of the film.  A-