Sunday, December 5, 2004

The Terminal

In a Nutshell: Sweet movie, worth renting, but not as great as I was expecting.

Quick Plot: A man whose country implodes while he is in flight is stranded at the airport for almost a year. He may not enter New York City to continue his trip, nor may he return home. Instead, he must make the best life he can inside the terminal.

In Detail: Definitely had the feel of an older type movie, but it was strangely less satisfying. It was also much more dramatic and less funny than I thought it would be, which may have thrown me some, since it is not what I was expecting. Most of the humorous moments were shown in the previews. And Stanley Tucci, who I usually find hilarious in his gruff over-the-top style, I instead found mean and unsympathetic. Such a shame. A sweet story, some great moments, worth seeing, but I'm glad we rented it instead of seeing it in the theater.

Will I Buy It? I don't think so.

National Treasure

In a Nutshell: Quite good Jerry Bruckheimer fare. All of his usual style and flair, with the added incentive of a mystery to solve. Check your brain at the door and just enjoy this fun popcorn flick.

Quick Plot: The Gates family has been following the trail of the mythical Free Mason treasure the US founding fathers hid more than two centuries ago, much to the amusement of the scholarly community. But when someone else plans to find it and keep it for himself, Ben Gates and team decide to beat them to the punch.

In Detail: I really liked this movie. About par for the course as far as Jerry Bruckheimer films go (not as good as Pirates, way better than King Arthur), which is just fine. I am quite a fan of his films, generally speaking. I liked that this one had the mystery aspect to it. Definitely reminiscent of The Goonies(for all you children of the 80s), but with less language! LOL A perfectly fun brainless film, with some great one liners. Would do fine on the small screen if you want to wait, but definitely worth seeing, even in the theater if you're an action junkie. Great fun!

Will I Buy It? I'm leaning towards yes. I won't run right out to buy it when it comes out, but if I happen to find it for under $15, I'd probably pick it up.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Incredibles

In a Nutshell: WOW!! Just WOW!! It was, well.... (sheepish grin) it was incredible!! I don't know what else to say. Oh yes I do: GO SEE IT!!

Quick Plot: Mr. Incredible and his wife Elastigirl are no longer a part of the "super" life, instead having spent the last 15 years raising three kids and trying to teach them to be "normal." But now, 15 years later, it is time to save the world again.

In Detail: Okay, I realize that plot summary stank, but I don't want to give *anything* away. I'm really not going to tell you much about the film, other than it is excellent and you truly must see it. As DH said, often animated films are okay to good movies, but the animation and the humor elevate them to excellent. But in this case, the movie itself is truly exceptional to start with; then you add in awesome visuals (stay for at least some of the credits, too), several great homages (I'll have to see it a few more times to catch them all; come on DVD!), and some first rate ROTLF humor (honey, where is my super-suit?), and you get a move that is, well, incredible! Just go see it. You won't be sorry!

Will I Buy It? Heck yeah! I'm ready to pre-order it right now!!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Spider-Man 2

In a Nutshell: Definitely worth seeing. Most of the individual elements were better, but the editing/pacing was *way* off, which detracted greatly.

Quick Plot: When Peter's idol becomes fused to four robotic arms, mayhem abounds. The situation is complicated by Peter's struggle with the choice of pursuing MJ or continuing as Spidey.

In Detail: Okay, so that was a sorry plot summary. Please forgive me. It's just rather hard to sum up well. First, let me say that the opening credits are awesome! I really really liked them. As I mentioned, most of the individual film elements were better than the original. The whole film was visually more stunning, with better (and less obvious, which is always better!) special effects. I liked the layout of the love story better (not great, but better), I liked the villain better (I could relate to him and feel sympathy for him). But the pacing of the film and the weaving together of the story elements (love story, humor elements, to Spidey or not to Spidey, Harry, Doc Ock) were TERRIBLE!!! How can a film where all the piece parts were better still feel unsatisfying? And how can a movie with such great action sequences feel slow? So I'm feeling rather conflicted about the film. I'd definitely rank it above the first Spidey (which I don't love), but probably below X-Men (both of them). Definitely worth seeing, but a little unsatisfying in the end (unless you go prepared, which I'm hoping this review will accomplish).

Will I Buy It? Probably. It's mainly up to DH. I do think I'd be more likely to watch this one more than the previous one (I just love Alfred Molina!).

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

In a Nutshell: Somewhat disappointing to this lover of the book, particularly as this is my favorite book in the series. Worth seeing, I guess, but not as good of a movie (story-wise) as the second one.

Quick Plot: Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban prison with one thought on his mind: kill Harry Potter.

In Detail: I know, I am dreadfully late with this review, but I figure anyone who really wanted to see it would have seen it anyway, and anyone who wasn't sure probably wouldn't have been persuaded to see it based on my rather poor review of the film, so in the long run, it probably didn't make any difference, unless you were dying of curiosity regarding my opinion of the film. :p You got all that? LOL Anyway, as I mentioned above, I found the film, overall, to be disappointing. Visually, I liked the film better, and the acting itself was better (hey, the kids are getting older and they have more experience now; I *hope* they're getting better). But with all of the edits they had to/chose to make to the story itself, it seemed to fall a bit flat. This perception is not helped by the fact that this is far and away my favorite *book* in the series, so it had a lot to live up to for me to be happy. However, given that DH (a non-reader) was even a little confused after seeing the film and I had to explain several things (including the tell-tale question "so *what* was up with those Dementor things?"), this tells me that the filmmakers did not succeed in their objectives of relaying the story well, at all. (For heaven's sake! You should know all about the Dementors by the end of that book, I mean movie.) They also took out a few points that I feel were totally key and that made the story "magical." The book has a lot of thinking/internal type elements, so I realize it was difficult to translate to the screen. Not a bad movie, but not as great as it could have/should have been.

Will I Buy It? Seeing as we already have the first two, I'm leaning towards yes, but if the films don't start improving from this point (and I find it hard to believe they can, since they intend to chop down the massive book 4 into a single 2 hour film), I will find it difficult to continue to purchase them. That is, of course, until I decide that my child needs a new film to watch, because I'm tired of seeing the same ones over and over and over and.... :)

I, Robot

In a Nutshell: Surprisingly good! After my other summer disappointments, I wasn't expecting much from it, and I came away really enjoying it. Not the greatest film ever, but really quite good. Definitely worth seeing, and definitely on the big screen!

Quick Plot: On the eve of the largest robot roll out in history, the "father of robotics" commits suicide, leaving his friend, the robot-phobic police officer, to investigate if it really was suicide, or if he was murdered by one of his own creations.

In Detail: (Note: I have never read, nor am I familiar with, the Asimov stories that "suggested" this film, and I am an admitted sci-fi junkie. Take this review with those particular grains of salt in mind.) Unlike Spider-Man 2, this film was *beautifully* paced. It flowed smoothly between story elements, and you really ride the adrenaline waves. Unlike King Arthur, the humor here was not only surprising (all the previews I had seen made it seem really serious), but it was perfectly timed and executed, bringing huge laughs. That's not to say that the movie isn't serious and/or doesn't have serious points to make. It is and it does, and it does indeed make them, but it doesn't do it in a preachy or heavy-handed manner. It just makes you go hmmm. The humor is well-placed for effect, usually tension release, which you need after some of the intense action sequences. Much of the film is CG, but I did not find it distracting. Every once in a while, the thought of "wow, that was amazing; too bad none of it was real" crossed my mind, but that's it, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It's not an overly deep movie, though it does have its moments. But I greatly enjoyed it nonetheless.

Will I Buy It? Not sure. That may seem strange after the above review, but I think I need to see it again (rented, most likely) to decide if there is enough to keep me interested on repeat viewings. Definitely worth seeing, though!

Addendum: After seeing this one a couple more times on television and finding it on sale for a great price, we did decide to buy it.

King Arthur

In a Nutshell: Not great, not bad; just another somewhat disappointing film. (This seems to be a trend of my summer film viewing of late.) Could definitely wait to be rented, IMO. This is especially surprising when you consider that I usually at least *like* Jerry Bruckheimer films.

Quick Plot: A more historical view (note I did *not* say "accurate") of the Arthurian legend, set just as Rome prepares to pull out of the British Isles, leaving the locals to fend for themselves against the ruthless invading Saxons.

In Detail: This film just falls very flat, at almost every turn. It is very heavy, quite different in that aspect from most Bruckheimer films. It does make some attempts at humor, but each and every attempt fails miserably. Most don't even bring a smile. There was no spark whatsoever between Arthur and Guinevere. Sure, he was interested in her, but it was more from a curiosity and intellectual perspective. I did feel some of the bond between Arthur and his knights, but I really didn't care too much about most of them or their fates. How very sad. They did work in some of the elements of the "classic" story in a convincing way (where you could see perhaps how the legendary elements came about, similar to the way Troy handled such things), but there were very few. Quite a letdown, given all the hype. Honestly, I think it hyped itself up to the point that there was no saving it from a fall, but it's still not a great movie. Rent it if you feel like seeing it, or catch it at the dollar theater. Certainly don't pay more than matinee price.

Will I Buy It? No.

Wednesday, June 2, 2004


In a Nutshell: Worth seeing once. Pretty well written, fairly well acted, kept my attention. Some excellent eye candy, and the special effects weren't bad either.

Quick Plot: Paris, Prince of Troy, steals the Queen of Sparta from her husband (quite with her permission). The King goes to his brother, who hires Achilles, the greatest warrior ever, to lead the war for her return.

In Detail: I'm glad I saw it, but I don't think I care to see it again. It was borderline on some of the things I don't like about rated R films, but didn't actually cross any of said lines (like violence). Honestly, the thing I disliked the most about the film was the lack of characters for whom I felt sympathy. Hector was the only one I really felt sorry for; the rest of them pretty much deserved what they got. But that was the story, I suppose, no real fault of the film-makers. Some of the acting did involve some eye-rolling. They just can't pull off those cheesy lines the way they used to. But all in all, a pretty good film, worth seeing.

Will I Buy It? I don't think so. There just isn't enough in it, for me personally, to want to watch it over and over.

Van Helsing

In a Nutshell: Quite an interesting story, pretty good execution, with a couple of "I don't think so" moments (even for this die-hard fantasty and sci-fi fan). I wouldn't recommend it for everyone, but monster movie fans (old and new) will probably enjoy it. I would not, however, recommend it for young children, as the monsters do tend towards the frightening.

Quick Plot: Van Helsing, famed monster-hunter, goes to Transylvania to try and save the last remaining members of the Valerious family from eternal damnation, and he hopes to discover some of the secrets of his forgotten past in the process.

In Detail: I really did enjoy the story. It was a very intriguing and convincing way to have all of these classic monster characters interacting with each other, and they even managed to throw in a twist or two on your expectations. Quite refreshing, actually. The problem is that the execution just didn't *quite* live up to the story. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't as good as it could have been, which I always find frustrating. Even the effects, done by the legendary ILM, did not seem to be up to their usual standards. It did, however, make me wonder if they had done it intentionally, to a certain extent, to keep them from being so scary as to pull an R rating (kind-of the same way they did the effects in the Harry Potter films by making them slightly cartoonish). Worth seeing if you like the genre, but I don't recommend it for everyone.

Will I Buy It? Again, I don't think so. There were too many parts that even I didn't watch (you know me and scary movies; I spent some time admiring the ceiling), and I'd rather not own a film that I can't watch several minutes of. It was good, it was interesting; once was enough.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


In a Nutshell: Most of it was pretty good, but a really crummy ending left me feeling deflated. Not a bad "fluff" popcorn flick, though.

Quick Plot: A demon from another realm is raised by a paranormal scientist to fight evil in this world. When the being who released him many years prior reappears, will Hellboy fight him and save the day, or join him and bring about the apocalypse.

In Detail: See what I mean? Didn't that last sentence of the plot summary make you just roll your eyes? They did really well for 80 minutes or so! Really, they did. I was into the story. Given the framework they had established, the story was plausible, even interesting. It has some unexpectedly touching moments, and plenty of great one-liners. Then comes the grand finale, and too much happened that didn't make sense, was not sufficiently explained, or was just down right stupid. There were several plot holes (during the "good parts" even) that I feel could have been solved by just a couple of sentences of explanation. With just a little more polish (and a significantly better ending), it could have been very good. As is, it's just pretty good. Worth a rental for sure, I'd say, and not a bad big screen flick for comic and sci-fi fans who need something to tide them over until Van Helsing, as long as you're prepared for the ending.

Will I Buy It? I don't know. I'm guessing no, but I may need to see it again to decide if the good parts outweigh the silly excuse for an ending.

Addendum: We did indeed end up buying this movie. We like it more than it deserves, and it was on great sale.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Big Fish

In a Nutshell: Wow. I was so surprised by this movie. I was just expecting it to be okay, and it was exceptional! And I don't even *like* Tim Burton! Just go see it.

Quick Plot: A son tries to reconnect with his sick father, after years of having to tolerate Dad's "big fish" stories.

In Detail: Just wow. This is truly one of the best movies I have seen in quite some time. I wasn't even going to see it; I really don't like Tim Burton films. But my brother convinced me that it wasn't a typical Tim Burton (like Edward Scissorhands ::shudder::), and that he really thought I'd like it. And he was so right! Thanks little bro. This movie was fun and funny and fantastical and fulfilling all at the same time (and no, I didn't try to get all those words in there, it just worked out that way). Yes, it's a little strange, but in a good way, and it actually makes sense within the context of the film. It is also very moving; if you're a crier, take tissue (I only had one or two tears, but there was lots of sniffling and a couple of borderline sobs in the theater). Just a great great film. I'm trying not to say too much about it, because I don't want to ruin anything. Just see it, you won't be sorry.

Will I Buy It? Most likely.

Peter Pan (2003)

In a Nutshell: Well, I liked it, but I also understand why it is not doing well at all. To borrow from my husband, "it's too childish for adults and too adult for children." (He's going to start charging me for those, or at least requiring co-writing credits.) By attempting to do both, it doesn't fully please either group. What a shame.

Quick Plot: Does anyone really not know this story by now? Oh, okay. The time has come for young Wendy to "grow up" and leave the nursery. But she doesn't want to; she wants to stay a teller and believer of stories to her siblings forever. And when the star of her many adventures, Peter Pan, comes to take her away to Neverland, where she will never have to grow up, she jumps at the chance, but comes to learn of the things she'll miss by staying a child forever.

In Detail: I really did like this movie. It was genuine and heartfelt, and beautiful to watch. But, let me reiterate: it's too childish for adults, and too adult for children. If they had gone fully in the adult direction, it would have been truly fantastic (well, to me), but how do you market Peter Pan to adults? It's almost impossible. As it is, they tried to please both groups, and instead, I think both groups leave unsatisfied. But personally, I really liked it, and I thought it was good to very good. The parrot was just, I don't know, creepy, and I hated Tinkerbell. But the interactions between Peter and Wendy were fabulous. Totally reminded me of what it's like to have a crush when you're 10 years old. Sensual, yet still innocent, without being sexual. Lots of parents are saying that the film is too sensual, but I think it rides that very fine line perfectly.

I'm about to jump into the deep end here (something I generally try to avoid, especially here), but hang with me, okay? The whole story has always been a metaphor for sexual awakening anyway, whether parents wanted to believe that or not (thank you Disney). If you go to Neverland, not only do you never grow up, you never mature, in all forms, not just getting a boring job or "acting proper" or whatever. By not staying, Wendy accepts her move from "the nursery" into the adult world, along with all that implies. And yes, I'm sure it is uncomfortable for parents to watch two pre-teens kiss (I'll let you know after I have my own kids), but it is very chaste and age-appropriate, and pre-teens *do* kiss, pretty much just like that in most cases (don't freak out, Mom and Dad, I was not one who experienced it personally). I found it to be very beautiful and moving, both the kiss and the film itself (well, once you got past some of the slapstick parts). And let me tell you, the boy who plays Peter is every 10-year-old-girl's dream! Such a cutie-pie. ::sigh:: Oh to be that young again.... Anyway, definitely worth seeing, though quite a bit more violent and eerie than I expected. Our theater even had it marked as PG-13 (though technically rated PG by the MPAA), and I'm not so sure I disagree. It's certainly borderline, so keep that in mind before showing it to very young viewers. Will do fine in the theater or as a rental.

Will I Buy It? I'm definitely considering it.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Home on the Range

In a Nutshell: Don't bother, unless you are desperate for a film you can see with your children. Extremely disappointing.

Quick Plot: Three cows try to save their farm from foreclosure by capturing an outlaw and collecting the bounty.

In Detail: ::just shakes her head:: Most of you know that I am a *huge* Disney fan. So what does it tell you when I have no idea what to say about this movie beyond disappointing. I was not engaged in the story at all, and I was not impressed with the music (though the singing itself was pretty good). It really just started and stopped. I didn't understand much of the motivation of the characters, and most peculiar for a Disney film, I found many of the characters miscast voice-wise. It was just a very surreal experience to leave any Disney movie so disappointed. Rent it if you have to, but otherwise don't even bother. This is definitely the final nail in the coffin (for a while, at least) for Disney "hand-drawn" animation. ::sigh::

Will I Buy It? I sincerely don't know. I'm not even sure it's worth it for the continuity of my Disney collection. That should tell you all you need to know about my opinion of this film. :(