Director John Moore had a lot going for him when he helmed this 2004 remake of the 1965 original. He used CGI and other effects barely dreamed of 40 years ago to create the harrowing plane crash that sets the plot in motion. Can the survivors escape the desert that threatens to kill them? Moore also effectively filmed his African location using aerial photography and wide-angle lenses to portray its vastness, eliminating much of the original film's stage-play feel. What Moore didn't have, though, were actors like Jimmy Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Peter Finch, and the rest of the original cast. The new players are good (Giovanni Ribisi is a stand-out), but they tend to lean on the special effects to create the suspense and drama that the original actors could muster alone.
Directing this movie had to be tough. On the one hand, legions of Potter fans don't want a filmmaker to swing too wide of J.K. Rowling's beloved source material. Yet critics and audiences were becoming restless with Chris Columbus' literal interpretations of the first two books. It turns out that director Alfonso Cuaron was an excellent choice to take over the reins. His visual flair gave Hogwarts a much-needed fleshing out; he kept much of the original story intact while stepping up its pacing; and he got some of the best performances yet from Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson as Harry and Hermione. Younger viewers may find this film scarier than the first two, but it's all in keeping with Rowling's move toward darker themes.
Disney's latest vault exploration has resulted in three new two-disc collections. The Mickey Mouse Club (Week One) presents the first five Mouseketeer meetings in their full, one-hour broadcast versions from October 1955. Mickey Mouse in Black and White (Volume Two) includes more than 40 Mickey cartoons from 1928 to 1935 and is a companion piece to the original Treasures collection of early Mickey shorts released in 2002. The Complete Pluto (Volume One) offers 26 cartoons from 1930 to 1947 that either starred or featured Mickey's pet pooch.