ARROW: SEASON 1 (Blu-ray combo)

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Arrow1coverGrade:  B
Entire family:  No
2012, 972 min. (23 episodes), Color
Unrated (would be PG-13 for violence)
Warner Bros.
Aspect ratio:  1.78:1
Featured audio:  DTS-HD MA 5.1
Bonus features:  C+
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, UV Copy

If your family consists of parents and a teenage boy and you’re looking to bond, Arrow can be a good alternative to video games. The series appeals to boys, especially, because it’s based on the DC Comics vigilante Green Arrow, who fights crime in his city but isn’t appreciated by police or the media because of his methods. He doesn’t work within the system. He works from a list of people his father gave him—rich people who have built their fortunes by abusing and taking advantage of others, making the city worse for their wear.

The action is top-notch, the acting is solid, and the characters are interesting. There’s graphic violence of the PG-13 sort, but there are also twists.   More

IRON MAN 3 (Blu-ray combo)

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IronMan3coverGrade:  A-
Entire family:  Yes . . . and no
2013, 130 min., Color
Rated PG-13 for intense sci-fi action and violence throughout, and brief suggestive content
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Featured audio: DTS-HD MA 7.1
Bonus features:  C
Includes:  Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy

Robert Downey, Jr. makes Iron Man one of the most entertaining superheroes in the Marvel movie universe. He “gets” his character—a mega-rich wunderkind named Tony Stark who is just as quick to dip into an arsenal of deadpan, sarcastic “Who cares?” cuts and comebacks as he is the toolbox that keeps his Iron Man suit on the cutting edge of technology . . . and blockbuster movie action.

Taking his cue from director Shane Black, who penned the screenplays for all four Lethal Weapon films, Downey seems to ramp up the Larry David-like self-absorption and lack of warmth for comic effect in Iron Man 3, which seems to have a more comedy and more action than the previous two films. Depending on how you feel about sci-fi violence, children ages 10 and up might be able to watch it comfortably.

Iron Man 3 soars above first sequel and might even rival the 2008 debut for overall entertainment value. You laugh, you sit on the edge of your seat, and you marvel (yes, Marvel) at some of the visual effects—especially the destruction of Stark’s cliffside mansion, an airplane disaster rescue, and scenes involving explosive, firelit, lava-fleshed creatures called “Extremis.”  More


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HisMajestyO'KeefecoverGrade:  C+
Entire family:  Yes, but . . .
1954, 90 min., Color
Not rated (would be PG for some violence)
Warner Bros. Archive Collection
Aspect ratio:  1.37:1
Featured audio:  Dolby Digital Mono
Bonus features: D

South Seas. Romance. Those words are almost synonymous, and in His Majesty O’Keefe, a 1954 semi-swashbuckler starring the acrobatic Burt Lancaster, all the color of the islands bursts onto the screen.

Narrated in voiceover by the main character, a 19th-century Yankee sea captain who is determined to get his share of the lucrative copra (dried coconut) market, His Majesty O’Keefe will remind literature students a little bit of Conrad’s Lord Jim or Melville’s heroes from Typee or Omoo. It’s the story of an adventurer’s exploits in an exotic land where beautiful native girls are as plentiful as the islands’ other resources, and dangers lurk not with the elements, but with potentially hostile indigenous people. In the ‘50s, or even a generation ago, that would have been enough to hold the interest of most families. After all, here was a chance to see Fiji (it was filmed mostly on the island of Vitu Levu), and producer Harold Hecht and director Byron Haskin featured real islanders in the film.

But today’s families can just go to Google Earth if they want to see Fiji, and they’re so used to seeing violence and dazzling special effects in action movies that the clashes in this film will seem not-so-adventurous—especially the one-on-one fights where punches that look like glancing blows send a man toppling in a series of backward somersaults. His Majesty O’Keefe has an old-fashioned movie vibe, and the “native” dress and dances suggest more than a touch of Hollywood. So how your family will respond to this depends on how they respond to old-time Hollywood films.   More