New in Home Entertainment – April 3, 2012

New in Home Entertainment

April 3, 2012

War Horse
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of war violence
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

In November my wife and I took a trip to London where we were fortunate enough to score some great seats to the hit West End play War Horse.  It was an incredible experience that left us both with the same thought: there is no way Steven Spielberg could screw this up.  We were wrong.  Spielberg’s movie does a lot of things right.  The cast is good enough, the music by John Williams is terrific and some of the shots are very memorable.  What turned out to be disappointing was the story.  Rather than sticking to the perfect storytelling of the play, Spielberg and screenwriter Richard Curtis (Love Actually) chose to twist things around, rework the plot and completely change the tone of the stage production.  The play is essentially about a boy during WWI whose father sells his horse to the military and thus goes on a journey through war-ravaged Europe to find his equine best friend.  In the play, the journey of both the horse and the boy were of equal importance.  In the movie, the boy’s journey is almost inconsequential by comparison.  In addition, they changed the major characters in significant enough of a way to almost lose their importance.  If you haven’t seen the play, you obviously won’t notice this.   But even though the film landed an Oscar nod for best picture, the overall reaction to the film has been mostly of indifference.  And while I have no way of proving this, I firmly believe that had they just left the basic story alone, the movie would have been a smashing success and an actual contender at the Oscars.  I have to admit that the special features in the four-disc blu-ray set are numerous and impressive.  I am still a massive Spielberg fan and love watching him commit to his craft.  He is more present on this blu-ray set than any of his other releases, which takes the overall movie up a notch or two.  C+

We Bought a Zoo
Rated PG for language and some thematic elements
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

Based on a true story, a widower (Matt Damon) needing to get away from it all takes his two children away from their city home and moves into a house located on an actual zoo.  Using all of his savings, he helps his family cope with the loss of their matriarch by bringing the zoo back to life in the hopes of opening it to the public.  Just as you’d expect from a Cameron Crowe film, the storytelling is solid and the dialog is wonderfully written.  After all, this is the man that brought us “Show me the money” and “You had me at hello.”  The guy knows how to write and direct and the aside from some extremely cheesy moments spent with an out of place over-the-top zoo inspector, the film works as both a smart comedy and touching family film.  It’s hard to imagine anyone not liking the movie and I can even picture it being quite inspirational to some.  B+

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

Rated G
Available on DVD and Blu-ray

There is something about those squeaky-voiced rodents that makes kids happy while simultaneously making their parents sick.  In this newest inevitable sequel, the Chipmunks and Chipettes accidentally go overboard from a cruise ship only to end up marooned on a seemingly deserted island.  Call me a snob, but I consider this to be the lowest form of entertainment.  There is not a funny gag in the entire film and it actually hurts seeing Jason Lee and David Cross reappearing for the third film (although if I were offered that kind of money, I’d probably do it also knowing full well that I’d hate myself later for it).  Unfortunately, since the pic brought in over a third of a million dollars worldwide, I’m sure the studio will try to get these rats to squeak again.  F