CATEGORIES DVDsIt's a weak seven days for home video, with two releases that cater to very specialized audiences: 'Dear John,' a sentimental tearjerker directed by Lasse Hallstrom and starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried as lovers separated by war and distance; and 'The Road,' starring Viggo Mortensen as a dad trying to protect his son from the ravages of a post-apocalyptic landscape. One for the gals, one for the guys. We'll have better luck next week with 'Alice in Wonderland.' 'Dear John'
What It's About: Based on the novel by best-selling author Nicholas Sparks, this is the story of John Tyree (Channing Tatum), a young soldier home on leave, and Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), an idealistic college student he meets and falls in love with during her spring vacation. Over the next seven tumultuous years, the couple is separated by John's increasingly dangerous deployments overseas. While meeting only sporadically, they stay in touch by sending a continuous stream of love letters overseas -- until John gets his last "Dear John" letter.
It's Kinda Like: Any other Nicholas Sparks novel
What We Say: This is what is euphemistically called a chick flick or a weepy -- a love story that tugs at the female heartstrings. And, indeed, we have here mismatched lovers struggling to make their way against all odds and against a world that intrudes on their emotions. Though the two leads -- Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried -- are a pleasure to look at, the film is so sluggish and ponderous that even unexpected plot twists can't enliven the proceedings. | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
What It's About: Based on Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, this dark, dreary post-apocalyptic tale follows the journey taken by a father (Viggo Mortensen) and his young son (newcomer Kodi Smit-McPhee) across a barren landscape blasted by an unnamed cataclysm, searching for safety while battling starving stragglers and marauding packs of cannibals.
It's Kinda Like: 'Mad Max' meets 'A Boy & His Dog'
What The Critics Say: J. Hoberman of the Village Voice summed up the naysayers for 'The Road': "Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize–winning, Oprah-endorsed, post-apocalyptic survivalist prose poem... was a quick, lacerating read. John Hillcoat's literal adaptation is, by contrast, a long, dull slog." On the other hand, Steven Rea of the Philadelphia Inquirer said "I cannot think of another film this year that has stayed with me, its images of dread and fear -- and yes, perhaps hope -- kicking around like such a terrible dream." | Rotten Tomatoes Reviews
Why the Re-Release?: John Ford's enduring masterpiece gets the Blu-ray treatment and special edition by The Criterion Collection. Though not the first adult big-screen Western nor the first film to star John Wayne (those milestones go to Raoul Walsh's 1930 'The Big Trail'), this certainly put Wayne on the map and gave Ford the crown as indisputable chief of horse operas. Beautifully shot, with outstanding performances by Claire Trevor, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, and, of course, Wayne, the film is hiked up several notches (if that's possible) by hi-def.
New Special Features: This edition has a host of interviews and commentaries; "Bucking Broadway" (1917), a 54-minute silent western by Ford; a video feature about Monument Valley, where Ford shot so many of his films; and a booklet featuring the short story that inspired the film.
Is It Worth Upgrading?: If this one is not in your collection -- or if you have one of the older releases of 'Stagecoach' -- then you need to upgrade. And if you own a Blu-ray player, this is a no-brain addition to your movie shelf.
Other New May 25 DVD Releases:
'All My Friends Are Funeral Singers'
'Hard Ride to Hell'
'Owl and the Sparrow'
'Spartacus (50th Anniversary Edition)' Blu-ray Disc
Check out other new May 25 DVD releases at OnVideo.