Monday, July 17, 2006

Superman Returns

In a Nutshell: I liked and enjoyed it a lot. As an homage to the original films, it is perfection. On its own, it needed a little help.

Quick Plot: After being gone for several years in an attempt to find his home world, Superman Returns, to find Lois has moved on, and Lex hasn't changed one bit.

In Detail: This film is a beautiful love note to the Christopher Reeve films. It was very carefully crafted with shots and scenes taken *directly* from prior movies. Just watching the opening credits is enough to put a goofy grin on your face if you are a fan. It is difficult for me to judge this movie as a separate entity, for some reason. Maybe Bryan Singer does too good of a job? Had this been the first of the "superhero boom," people would be talking about how amazingly wonderful it is. But after such fantastic films as X-Men and Spider-Man, this one falls a little short. Still, it is a very good movie, and absolutely worth seeing in the theater. I am exceedingly impressed with Brandon Routh. I am a huge Christopher Reeve fan, so I was already prejudiced against him, but he really won me over. Kevin Spacey rocks, as always, and the guy who played Jimmy Olson was perfection. Kate Bosworth was quite a departure, but I think I like her take on things (well, mostly). And I was thrilled to see so much of James Marsden here, since his part was smaller in X-Men (I didn't even know he was *in* Superman until the opening credits started running). I was very unhappy with that whole set-up, but it was handled quite gracefully. And I swear he was hired simply for his ability to deliver one particularly cheesy line *without* you rolling your eyes; it was pretty amazing. All of this is not to say that the film didn't have flaws. While no particular scene seemed overlong, the film still seemed to drag here and there. I think it was in my favor that I hadn't seen the prior films in quite some time, so there was no direct comparison, just gentle reminders. Any scenes or lines that seems a bit hokey compared to the rest of the movie (even for a Superman film) is probably a scene from the older films redone. I also think some of the storyline intersplicing was wonky. It just didn't flow very well. But overall, a fine film.

Will I Buy It? I'm not sure. I want to say yes, but I know that DH didn't like it as much as I did, so we'll see. Maybe we'll wait for the next one.


In a Nutshell: By general animation standards, it is a very good movie with some stunning visuals. By Pixar standards, it is a little bit of a disappointment.

Quick Plot: Lightening McQueen, hotshot rookie of the racing scene, gets lost on his way to the final race, meeting a group of misfit small town cars who challenge his perceptions.

In Detail: I think, had this been the first Pixar film, everyone would be completely raving about it. Following such a phenomenal string of Pixar films, though, it would have been exceedingly difficult for this one to live up, and it just doesn't quite manage. (I am also tainted because I think The Incredibles is one of the best movies ever made, so that was not in Cars' favor.) I think it has some pacing issues, definitely too long and slow for little children. I think the story is just too ordinary for a Pixar film. I mean, I know we in America like our predictable films, but that is one of the things that made Pixar great: fresh and original versions of the predictable. But my biggest disappointment: I didn't really laugh out loud. A few chuckles, sure, but not the belly laughs I am accustomed to. I will say that I think people who are into cars and racing will probably get more out of it than I did. I have no doubts there are some references that I missed. Still good, still worth seeing in the theaters. Just not quite up to their usual standards.

Will I Buy It? Yes. It is still some of the best film making out there today, and still great for kids.

X-Men: The Last Stand

In a Nutshell: Quite good, with a few surprises even, but not up to the supremely high standards set by the first two.

Quick Plot: Once again, humanity has attracted the ire of Magneto, this time over the development over a "cure for mutation."

In Detail: Hmm... what to say of this film. It is good, and it is worth seeing. I think it was a little light on plot, but it was still handled very well. I am a bit irritated with how a couple of other things were handled, but nothing I can expound on here. Email me if you've seen it and you want to know. Had this been the first in the series, people would be raving about how wonderful it is. But with the bar set so very high by the first two, it was simply too much to live up to. And one more thing: WATCH TO THE BITTER END OF THE CREDITS!!! It will knock your socks off.

Will I Buy It? Most likely.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

Titanic (1953)

In a Nutshell: Not very historically accurate, but oddly compelling nonetheless.

Quick Plot: The trouble and strife of a fictitious family on board the ill-fated maiden voyage of the famous luxury liner.

In Detail: I was extremely interested in finally seeing this film. It is *the* classic version of the story, and I can clearly see its influence on James Cameron in his versions. Some shots were taken almost frame for frame from this film, which I consider a very nice touch on his part. The historical accuracy is rather pitiful, though. The costumes are off (too much 50s style comes through), the sets, though lavish, are not even close to the pictures we all know by heart (not even an accurate grand staircase, for goodness sake), the ship doesn't break apart (though there is still some controversy as to whether that happened above or below the water)... I could go on and on. But still, for all that, it really is quite a good movie, with the kind of intense and layered performances that you simply don't see these days. There are many characters who are obviously supposed to be other people (like a Molly Brown type who isn't named that), and with the historical inaccuracies, if you just renamed the ship and thought of it as a sort of take-off on the Titanic story, I think it would come off much better. The special effects are also quite excellent, all things considered, years if not decades ahead of their time. Worth seeing if you like classic movies or are a Titanic buff (so you can pick it apart, hee-hee).

Will I Buy It? I may, simply because I'm a Titanic nut. On its own merits as a film? Probably not. Too many classics are better, IMO.

Ocean's 11 (1960)

In a Nutshell: Shockingly, I was bored out of my skull! We watched about 45 minutes of it and were falling asleep. We didn't even finish it! A huge disappointment.

Quick Plot: Eleven friends who know each other from World War II service plan to rob five of the biggest casinos in Las Vegas in one night.

In Detail: Not a lot of detail to give, especially when we only watched about 35% of the movie. I was so stunned. We started watching it around 8 PM, and by 8:45, we were both falling asleep in our recliners. The movie was just that slow and boring. I had heard such great things about it, and besides, this is THE Rat Pack, ya know? Surely their greatest film is worth watching, right? Sadly no, it just wasn't for us. I wanted a heist film. Instead, I got 45 minutes of backstory that wasn't even very interesting about characters I didn't care for at all. This is one of the few times I have ever preferred the remake to the original. If someone can convince me that it is worth a retry, I might reconsider, but at the moment, I am just fine never finishing it.

Will I Buy It? No.

Holiday Inn

In a Nutshell: Cute premise that unfolds in a very standard fashion, typical of 40s rom-coms. Still, it's Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire; how bad can it be?

Quick Plot: A singer separates from his dancing partner to open a country inn that is only open on holidays, with themed shows for each one.

In Detail: An enjoyable 40s musical rom-com, interesting in the premise department, but rather boring in execution. There are some interesting historical aspects to it, though, like Roosevelt's attempt to change the date for Thanksgiving, or Lincoln's Birthday and Washington's Birthday being separate holidays (i.e. no President's Day). Also, the war footage shown during the Independence Day number was from World War I, with biplanes and everything! The film was only made in 1942, so there probably wasn't much WWII footage to go around yet, certainly not in Hollywood. And if you do get a chance to see it, keep this in mind while watching the drunk dance: legend has it that Astaire had two drinks of bourbon before the first take, and one drink of bourbon before each additional take. The 7th and final take was the one used. Method dancing, anyone? LOL A good one if you like these kinds of movies, but not the best example of the genre I've seen.

Will I Buy It? Unlikely.

Addendum: The more I see this one (it has started popping up on our movie channels), the more I like it. If I can find it for a good price on DVD, I'll probably get it.

Dangerous When Wet

In a Nutshell: No, not a thriller; an Esther Williams musical from 1953. Pretty typical of the era. Nothing to rave about.

Quick Plot: A small-town farm girl is convinced by a slick promoter to participate in a contest to swim the English Channel.

In Detail: Ah, but what is there to say of this movie? A very straight forward 50s era musical, though I do like Esther Williams (much prefer Take Me Out to the Ballgame, though; at least it has Sinatra and Kelly). It was interesting to finally get to see Fernando Lamas in action, though. I had heard much about him, but had never actually seen him in anything. I actually think he'd make a better seductive bad guy than leading man. Ah well. Nothing inspiring or amazing here, most especially the music, which was dismal. It was quite lacking in both quality and variety (there were like only three songs repeated over and over in the whole thing). This film is probably best known for the underwater dream sequence with her and Tom and Jerry (mouse and cat, respectively; and yes, this *is* an MGM picture, why do you ask?). If you like this kind of thing, then it's fine to watch, but nothing to go out of your way for.

Will I Buy It? Couldn't even if I wanted to (and I don't). It is not available on DVD at all or VHS (except in Canada, apparently).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

In a Nutshell: Eh. Cute, I guess. First one was much better.

Quick Plot: Princess Mia is preparing to take the throne, but first she must outwit a conniving Parliament leader attempting to install someone else as king, all while thwarting a law that demands she get married in order to rule.

In Detail: Like I said, the first one was better. For me, it seemed Mia was just going through the motions instead of "becoming," which was the charm and fun of the first film. Most of the repeated jokes (like the hair dresser guy) were just not funny this time around, the clumsiness seemed much more forced and out of place, and I never felt anything genuine coming from the love interest at all. He came off smarmy no matter what he did. However, this one was much more satisfying in terms of what Julie Andrews gets to do and be, so that was worth it.

Will I Buy It? No.

The Princess Diaries

In a Nutshell: Quite cute! A pretty good message for tweens, though I disagree with parts of it. Excellent vehicle for Dame Julie Andrews; she is perfection, as always.

Quick Plot: A geeky teenage outcast suddenly learns that she is a princess and destined to rule a small European country, but there is much to learn about behaving royally.

In Detail: This really is a very cute movie, and I highly enjoyed it. I have the sequel recorded and waiting to be watched, if that tells you anything. Anne Hathaway is really very charming, and she does awkward as well as she does regal. I don't like the fact that they felt the need to change her looks *quite* so much; I think it sends a poor message about judging by appearances. That said, though, it still sticks pretty close to the "be true to yourself" message. But the best part of the whole film is watching Julie Andrews finally be the queen we all know her to be. Watching her imitate Mia's walk had me rolling in the floor! And Hector Elizondo is his always-wonderful understated self; I greatly enjoyed watching him interact with both Hathaway and Dame Julie. A fun light movie, great for a (young) girls' night in.

Will I Buy It? Probably not, especially just for myself.

Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen

In a Nutshell: Fun and quirky, and I liked the message. Great for tweens, despite what you might think of Miss Lohan and her behavior of late.

Quick Plot: A New York City teen is transplanted to Jersey, creating much real and imagined drama in her life. But if she can *just* get in to see her favorite band at their final concert, life will be complete.

In Detail: It was a lot of fun, and I liked it fine. With what little I've seen of both of them, I think between Hillary Duff and Lindsay Lohan, Lohan is the better actress. If she'll just grow up and get over herself (and stop taking after Paris Hilton), I think she'll make a remarkable actress. I also liked the message of the film. The Princess Diaries bothered me because they seemed to emphasize fitting in, most particularly with her appearance. Here, the message was "be yourself and don't worry so much about what others think." I was a little concerned about some of her behavior, particularly the lying, but it turned out fine. Not only did she lose friends and respect for lying, she also got grounded for various things she did that were against the rules. Be yourself, but obey the rules, and live up to your obligations. Sounds like a fabulous teen message to me!! I could have done without the musical interlude every 5 minutes or so (do we really need a different song chorus *every* time we change scenes?), but some of it was quite good. I don't think they integrated the concert storyline and the school musical storyline very well, but that's okay. It was a low-budget kids' film, there's only so much you can expect. I was most irked by the fact that the title song, performed at the end of the school musical, had absolutely *zero* to do with anything in the musical itself. It was simply tacked on because there was singing involved. It is clear, however, that it was meant as a vehicle for The Divine Miss L, and she clearly worked hard on it. The outfit was a little much, as were some of the others in the film, but if that's my only complaint, then it can't have been that bad. :-)

Will I Buy It? Hmm, I'm not sure. Since I have a boy, I'm not sure he'd appreciate it like he should, and besides, it may all be irrelevant 10+ years from now anyway. Cute, but not something I would watch again just for me.

Kaena: The Prophecy

In a Nutshell: Visually stunning! A true piece of eye candy with incredible CG rendering. Story interesting, execution okay to good. Worth seeing if you are into animation and/or CG.

Quick Plot: A high-spirited teenager discovers the secret of her dying world. Can she convince her people of the truth, even though it goes against all of their historical beliefs, and lead them into a new era?

In Detail: I saw this movie quite a while ago (close to a year, maybe?), and I have in fact seen it several times, but I hadn't thought to write it up until just now. It has recently started coming on our movie channels again, though, which is what reminded me of it. In fact, had it not been for our movie channels, I never would have seen this movie. (Have I mentioned I love our movie channels?) I was hunting for something to watch and I saw this title, which I had never ever heard of. Then I saw that it was animated (how could I not have heard of it?), and then I saw that Richard Harris and Kirsten Dunst were the main voice cast. Excuse me? Turns out it is one of the very last things he did, and the film is dedicated to him. Anyway, I flipped it over about 40 minutes into the film, and I was simply astounded by what I saw. (Keep in mind that my first exposure to this film was on a hi-def channel.) It is just jaw-droppingly beautiful in its crafting and detail. It was created in France (with an originally French voice cast) by game programmers, and it shows, both in visual imagination and skill. It is also clearly made by some men who need to get out a little more (evidenced by her costume (or lack there of); I've seen much worse, but still). LOL It was originally a 3-D movie, which I can imagine was completely mind-blowing. The creatures are amazing, the story is okay, but it is worth seeing purely for its visual beauty.

Will I Buy It? I don't know. I can't say that I love the movie, but I find myself watching it more often than not if I catch it on. If I found it for the right price, I would probably buy it.

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

In a Nutshell: Good movie, excellent performances, but didn't live up to the hype.

Quick Plot: (If you don't know by now, then you have been living under some huge whopping rock for way too long.) Two cowboys begin a forbidden and secret romance that spans several decades.

In Detail: Wow, what to say about this movie. I don't really know. Lots of folks have seen it already, lots of others won't see it for any reason, and still others have lots of questions. If you have some specific questions you would like to ask me about it, email me and I'll get back to you. For me, I'll just review it like I would any other film.

It was very good, but not great. It is one of those films (and I have seen several) where the performances were excellent, but the movie as a whole didn't live up to those performances. My hat is off to Heath Ledger; he was simply amazing. So restrained, so understated, and yet you could just feel his pain and torment flowing from the screen. Jake Gyllenhaal was good, but Ledger was better. It doesn't help that there is something about Gyllenhaal's character that I really didn't like, though I can't really put my finger on it. The movie is very slow, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Most emotional dramas are. But ultimately, I was disappointed. No, disappointed isn't quite right; unsatisfied is probably better. For that kind of build-up and that amount of time and emotional investment in the long and drawn out drama (again, not a necessarily a bad thing), there just wasn't enough pay-off. I should have cried. I should have been bawling. Instead, I barely got misty. I'm all for subtle, but to me, there should have been more. More how or more of what, I'm not sure. It was just missing something. Good, worth seeing if you're interested, but not the great cinematic masterpiece I was expecting.

Will I Buy It? Unlikely. I wouldn't watch it often enough to make it worthwhile.

An Ideal Husband

In a Nutshell: Excellent! Totally my kind of movie. Charm, wit, twist and turns, beautiful people saying wonderful words, and with delightful British accents to boot. What more can you ask for?

Quick Plot: A conniving woman bent on increasing her own wealth uses cunning and blackmail to convince a former acquaintance to push a detrimental building plan through Parliament, wreaking much havoc on his reputation and his marriage.

In Detail: I do believe that this is the first Oscar Wilde production I have ever seen, and if they are all this good, then it will certainly not be the last. Superb casting, exceptional delivery, and stunningly beautiful to behold, this is simply my kind of movie. They just don't write banter like this anymore. I am out of compliments to give to the cast. Let's just say they were all amazing and leave it at that. I will provide you with their names, though, in case you have forgotten who is in it (it *has* been quite a while since this film was out): Julianne Moore, Jeremy Northam, Cate Blanchett, Minnie Driver, and Rupert Everett. Not to stereotype, but this is very much a Victorian chick flick, and I'm not sure how much a "traditional" male would appreciate it. But if you like snappy and fun dialog driven period films, this one is a definite must! It is quite a slow movie, but that is in no way a bad thing! It gives you time to digest the performances and all of the glorious words being used. This is not a movie to watch with lots of background noise; you have to *listen* or you'll miss most of the good stuff. And it is so worth it!

Will I Buy It? Yes! Though it is on the "to buy when we have the money" list, not the "rush out and buy it immediately" list.

Finding Neverland

In a Nutshell: Very good. Excellent performances all around, and bring plenty of hankies!

Quick Plot: The story of J.M. Barrie and the events and people surrounding his creation of the most famous boy who never grew up.

In Detail: I greatly enjoyed this film. Johnny Depp is simply magnificent. He always is, but to me, this was an even more stunning performance because it was so calm and reasonable and rational, and yet magical and captivating as always. When he is on the screen, you simply cannot take your eyes off of him, and it has nothing to do with his looks. He is just totally enthralling. Kate Winslet is her ever-wondrous self, though this is becoming a common character type for her to play. Still, she plays it to perfection. Freddie Highmore was also wonderful; Hollywood needs to keep an eye on that one. The editing and art direction for the shifts from imaginary to real, and the weaving of the real into the imaginary story is so fantastic, it is worth watching just for those moments. And last, but not least, it is quite the tear-jerker. Have plenty of hankies or tissue on hand before starting the film. Wonderful movie!

Will I Buy It? I'm not sure. I don't get in the mood for tear-jerkers very often, but this one was so very good, I just might have to pick it up anyway.

Friday, March 24, 2006

V for Vendetta

In a Nutshell: Quite fun! Doesn't take itself seriously. Not as good as the original Matrix film, but better than either sequel, IMO.

Quick Plot: A mysterious masked figure in the near-future seeks to topple a strict dictatorial government with the help of a young woman he abducted, and hopefully the rest of the nation.

In Detail: While I wouldn't quite say that this film lives up to its hype, it was great fun to watch. It is not meant to be serious (though it does have a few serious points to make in a satirical fashion), so just turn off your brain and watch. The V monologue alone is worth the price of admission. Quite a bit of stylish action, a large dollop of wit, and some fantastic tongue in cheek humor make for an enjoyable two hours. I have a special fondness for the actor who plays V (I won't give it away for those who like to guess), so that certainly doesn't hurt. Several have criticized it on moral grounds, and in light of world events of the last 5 years, I can see their point to a certain extent. Then again, perhaps that is one of the points of the movie, no? You decide.

Will I Buy It? I'd put it on the maybe list. I'd like to see it again to decide if I'd watch it frequently. I'm not sure that I would; I prefer The Matrix.


In a Nutshell: Bleh. Don't bother. Even films I don't expect much from need more than Milla Jovovich in skimpy costumes and CG effects.

Quick Plot: A group of genetic outcasts capture a weapon that will obliterate all of their kind from the planet. The agent sent to intercept it learns that it may also be the key to a cure. Can the cure be discovered before the others destroy it, or will it be the end of her people?

In Detail: We did not go into this film expecting very much, but it delivered even less. We thought of it it on the same level as The Scorpion King: great late late night film, should be a fun and forgettable 2 hours. The Scorpion King looks Oscar caliber compared to Ultraviolet and contains immeasurably more plot. It also doesn't take itself too seriously, whereas Ultraviolet tries to be both serious and relevant (and fails dismally). More than a few people left about 30 minutes in (it wasn't quite *that* bad). Several action sequences were either too long and/or too repetitive, to the point of using some of the same footage. What little plot there was seemed made up as they went along. I'm all for twists, but these didn't make any sense. It was like sitting in a room and asking for plot points for any movie, then trying to make them fit into this one with little or no effort to connect them (should there have been a way to do so), and some other things that could have used explanation were never even touched on. The effects were cool, yes, but that alone cannot carry a film. Let's not even discuss the acting. I've seen worse movies for sure, but this one was pretty bad.

Will I Buy It? You're kidding, right? Nope.


In a Nutshell: Great fun! Especially for the sci-fi or action genre fans. Definitely makes me want see Firefly (the canceled TV series the film is based on).

Quick Plot: The crew of Serenity take on a fugitive passenger with surprising capabilities, and her nameless pursuer will stop at nothing to get her back.

In Detail: First, allow me to state that I have never seen a single episode of Firefly, the television show on which this film is based, so I was not sure if I would understand much of what was going on. We followed along just fine. I do think there were parts where I was missing something, and I'm sure there was much subtexting and many subtleties that went right over my head, but overall, it was a very enjoyable ride. This is going to sound ridiculous at first, but I hope you will understand what I mean: it really is more of an action film set in space than a "sci-fi film" per se. And quite a good action flick at that; just turn off your brain and let it ride. The characters are interesting, the dialog is snappy if a little (intentionally) odd in cadence (though many of the best lines were used in the previews; I hate that!), and the fight sequences are exceptionally well filmed, edited, and choreographed (I genuinely believed she was kicking their butts!). You may recall that I was highly critical of the way the fight sequences in Batman Begins were shot. Had it been done this way, it would have rocked the house! Seriously, all action films should take notes from how these fights were done. A few of the plot points had the feel of being a checklist of things that needed to be addressed after the series was abruptly canceled, but as someone who appreciates when film makers pay homage to the source television material, I have no problem with that, and most of it did end up being relevant to the story presented in the film. Truly the best compliment I can give this movie is that it makes me really want to see the television show.

Will I Buy It? I'm thinking about it. I'd like to see it again to decide if it is something we'd watch over and over. It is definitely our kind of film, and if we ever see Firefly, we might be more inclined. It is currently on the "maybe" list.

Addendum: We have since seen the series, Firefly, and it is one of our all time favorite series ever. We watch the whole series (14 episodes) 1-2 times a year, we love it so much. So yes, we bought the movie, though it is much harder to watch now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


In a Nutshell: A fun and entertaining romp, not serious in the slightest, nor is it intended to be. A perfectly pleasant two hours.

Quick Plot: The "semi-true" tale of the legendary lothario and the love of his life.

In Detail: Honestly, there isn't much to say about this film. It is the perfect "cream puff" of a movie. Light, airy, and sweet, with no meat to it whatsoever. I smiled, I laughed, I enjoyed myself. The settings are lovely, the costumes stunning, and the situations are appropriately ridiculous, with a few witty lines for flavor. And one of my personal favorites, Oliver Platt, is his usual over the top self, even if he is virtually unrecognizable, both physically and vocally. Unless you're out of films to see, I wouldn't bother with this one in the theater. It will be just fine on DVD, or better yet, your movie channel of choice. I just wasn't up for anything heavy that night, and this was the perfect confection of a film to suit my tastes at the time.

Will I Buy It? Doubtful.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

In a Nutshell: Excellent! Far and away the best Potter adaptation to date. Probably a bit too scary/intense for little kids, though.

Quick Plot: Harry is entered into the Tri-Wizard Tournament against his will and must compete not only for the glory of the school, but for his very life.

In Detail: I enjoyed this movie so much, which is surprising since I was very afraid of what would happen to such a long book after all of the slicing and dicing to make it fit into a reasonable (i.e. non-Peter Jackson) film length. They did a remarkable job. Other than the disappointment of not getting to see *any* of the Quidditch World Cup beyond the opening ceremonies, which looked astoundingly awesome, virtually all of the cuts made were appropriate and not really missed (I had a couple of small nitpicks, but that is to be expected, and one cut I did like: thank goodness for no S.P.E.W.!). I must say, Ralph Fiennes plays Voldemort with mesmerizing perfection and conviction. *This* is what we all knew a Harry Potter film could be, though it is probably too much for young viewers. I would not take the average 5 or 6 year old to see this film, that's for sure (it is rated PG-13, after all). Great film! I'm looking forward to the next one.

Will I Buy It? YES! I would have said yes anyway, to keep the series going, but this is the first Potter film that I can say without hesitation that I would buy on its own merits as well.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

In a Nutshell: Okay. Glorious attention to detail, beautiful to watch, but I ultimately found it a bit boring.

Quick Plot: Four siblings in war-torn England are sent to the country for safety. There, they find a magical realm within a wardrobe in the spare room, ruled by a white witch who is constantly on guard for the four humans who are foretold to end her reign.

In Detail: By now, I'm sure we *all* know that Disney was presenting this film on two fronts, and I am happy to say that it walked the fine line between the two camps very well with this production (probably helped by the fact that Disney is mainly a distributor in this case, not a major producer in anything but the money department). They did not downplay the obvious Christian overtones, nor did they downplay the magical aspects. They presented the story, both "faces" of it, just as it was portrayed in the book; you may read as much or as little into the parallels as you would like in this wonderfully fantastical world. But given that I have read the book (though it was several years ago), and given that it is a Christian allegory, it was way too predictable. I know, many films are now, and what can I expect from a book as old as this one; I also didn't expect it to stray from the book (that would truly have been sacrilege). It just felt plodding and boring, though I'm not sure how that could have been fixed. (Hey, we all knew the boat sank (Titanic) and Anakin became Vader (Sith), but we still went to see those.) Still, it is a good movie, fine for most children, though some of the witch's creatures might be a bit frightening for sensitive little ones at the "table scene" near the end. The make-up and effects were very well done indeed, and the attention to even the smallest detail is fabulous, but in the end, it just wasn't enough for me. I do look forward to future Narnia installments, though. Perhaps I shall enjoy the ones I have not read a bit more.

Will I Buy It? Not just yet. If I like future installments, then I'll go back and pick this one up.

Memoirs of a Geisha

In a Nutshell: Good. Very beautiful, just not much to it. The book was much more gripping. Would probably have been better if I hadn't read the book.

Quick Plot: Chiyo is sold into slavery as a child. She is sent to geisha school in hopes of recovering the investment in her. Can Chiyo become a famous geisha, wealthy enough to pay her debts and win the man of her dreams?

In Detail: A good movie, just not a great one. Very very beautiful to watch, and you are given plenty of time to look with the slow pace of the film. It is NOT slow in a bad way! Just not action oriented in the slightest, not even the "action scenes;" nothing wrong with that when it is done artfully and intentionally, as is the case here. The casting was suburb! Everyone looked and behaved just as I imagined they would. As I said, it probably would have been better to me had I not read the book. The "reveals" did not have any impact since I knew they were coming; there would have been more play to the heartstrings without the foreknowledge on my part. I will say that I felt sorrier for Hatsumomo in the movie than I did in the book, but not so with Pumpkin. It has been several years since I read the book, but as far as I can recall, it was quite faithful (though admittedly I cannot recall much beyond the major plot points). In all honesty, I was most disappointed in the score. John Williams, Yo Yo Ma, and Itzhak Perlman; what's not to love? I genuinely can't even recall the music at all. Some would say that is the mark of a great movie score, but disappointing from such talented artists. Still, all in all, worth seeing if you like purposefully slow-paced eye candy, but will not lose much on the small screen, I don't think. Not recommended for stereotypical men, as they will most likely be bored out of their skulls.

Will I Buy It? Unlikely.