Category: Family / Kids


Life of Pi

November 10th, 2012 — 4:15pm

****

 Life of Pi-sp

If you have by some chance read the book, we did not, you probably will be very curious how the story would be told in the film . If you are a big Ang Lee fan(Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film), Hulk (2003), and Brokeback Mountain (2005), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director,  you most likely will want to see his latest work. If you love 3D movies where everything seems so real and comes right at the audience, this would be on your list to see. Finally if you  are a real big animal lover, you will be drawn to this movie. Since we really don’t fit in any of these categories we were quite neutral when  we found ourselves at the sneak preview showing of this movie. The Life of Pi  was like nothing we have ever seen. The story is quite unique which revolves around one young man from India who as you can see from the movie poster is  shipwrecked in the middle of an ocean with a ferocious tiger. The 3D effects are as realistic as we have ever seen . The CGI ( Computer Generated Imagery) is clearly state of the art or perhaps years ahead itself. In a Q & A after we saw the movie, the  audience actually questioned the  guest at our screening, Elizabeth Gabler,  Fox 2000 President, whether trained animals were being used for most of the complex dramatic scenes because every hair on their bodies was totally realistic as was the fast moving action. The beautiful and powerful  depiction of nature was beyond description and has to be seen to be appreciated. There were essentially 5 people in the film although it revolved around one person Pi Patel . However, there were 14,000 people hired to work on the movie who worked an estimated 600,000 hours in a film that had a budget of around 100 million dollars. This alone should pique your curiosity to see this movie. Pi Patel was played by Suraj Sharma a young man who had no intention of being an actor but showed up with his brother at one of numerous castings held all over the world and was chosen. He had to endure wind, water and much movie trickery to help Director Ang Lee achieve his effects. If there was one shortcoming of the film, it was that we did not respond strongly to  to the intended emotional undercurrent and the twists at the end of the movie as did some of our fellow movie goers. That did not make us sorry in any way that we had spent 127 minutes with this unusual film.(2012)

 

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids

The Magic of Belle isle

July 6th, 2012 — 6:50am

****

The Magic of Belle Isle -sp  Rob Reiner has brought a bit of magic to this story by Guy Thomas. There is this older curmudgeon alcoholic  (Morgan Freeman) who used to be a western novelist but doesn’t write anymore since his wife died 6 years ago. His nephew drops him off at a vacation cabin for the summer on this lovely island.  Next door is this woman (Virginia Madsen) and her three kids. You probably can guess most of the remaining outline of the plot of the story and you wouldn’t be too far off. Yes, at times it seems contrived but you won’t mind at all, as you get a feel for the characters and really like each one of them. What comes across is a real sense of how people can care for each other. Age, race, disability don’t matter. The ability of a person to see what isn’t there and imagine what could be is an important part of the story. The dialogue is wonderful from all the characters but especially the expression and wisdom coming from the 9 1/2 year old Finnegan (Emma Fuhrmann) are perfect. The story will touch you and it is definitely worth experiencing for any adult. We also can’t imagine a better film to bring along a pre-adolescent girl. (2012)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids, Romance

Lorax

March 6th, 2012 — 8:10am

**

Lorax: This is a well publicized  blockbuster movie of  a Dr. Seuss book which was just released on the author’s birthday. It is a high tech computer animated film directed by Chris Renaud and Kyle Balda  starring the  voices of Zac Efron, Taylor Swift , Danny DeVito and Betty White.  When we arrived at our local multiplex with two grandchildren ages 8 & 10 to see this movie, ½ hour before show time  we found that the 5pm show was soldout so we got tickets to the 7:40pm ( this was the regular HD –not the Imax or the 3D. )When we came back 40 minutes before show time we still had to wait on long line that snaked around the mall and had to sit up close and a little to the side. Both kids had read the book recently and knew the story, which was ancient history to us. Us  grown ups found the movie, fair, not at all compelling as we recalled feeling about the Disney classics. The 10 year old agreed but said she didn’t expect more. The eight year old liked it a lot but agreed that  the music wasn’t particularly appealing (It seemed splashy maybe even grungy to us). There were a lot of younger kids in the theatre who clearly didn’t have the slightest idea what was going on story wise but liked it when someone crashed down or perhaps when there was a nice furry animal but it wasn’t really a movie for those younger kids. The lesson of the movie is that one should not  destroy trees. The young hero( who looks like a young kid-he is suppose to be 12,  but rides a motorbike) of the movie leads us to this conclusion although his motivation is because he wants to please his girl friend so she will kiss him and marry him . It is not because he starts off believing trees are good for this earth and in fact it is only his grandmother who even remembers trees. What Dr. Seuss ever lacked in a plot, he always made up with his  wonderful language and poetry. This movie didn’t use his language although it certainly tried to capture the spirit. It probably is going to be a big hit although we would suggest that you and the kids stick to the book. (2012)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Family / Kids

Hugo

February 1st, 2012 — 4:32pm

****

Hugo –rm   _ The movie open with a beautiful scene of Paris with snow flakes falling. The 3D effect is fantastic. It actually almost feels as if the snow is falling on the audience. This is followed by a breathtaking run through the railroad station taking full advantage of the three dimensional technique that is being used. However, by the end of the film we concluded that we could have done without the 3D effect and the movie would have been just as good and the glasses were a tad uncomfortable anyway. This film has all the ingredients of a successful movie. First of all it has Martin Scorsese fully behind it as director and a producer. It is a movie about movies which almost always is an attraction to movie goers (and critics and award givers). It has appealing child actors (Asa Butterfield and Chloe Grace Moretz) and a delightful grandfather figure played by Ben Kinglsey. It also has Sacha Baron Cohen as the railway policeman who is the scary threat on one hand but a humorous injured soul on the other. Oh yes, there is also a dog – a big tough mean  dog but any dog always seems to push up the positive rating  meter especially for young people. There are moving moments when a young boy’s father dies and he is searching for a bond with his lost Dad. He meets a grandfather figure who can’t think about his own lost glorious past because it is too painful to contemplate.  There is clash, suspense, action, resolution and a grand finale. While this certainly is a children’s movie probably for nine and ten year olds and older, it is also made for us adults who are not only young at heart but always want to learn a little history.  The book by Brian Selznick and the screen play by John Logan is telling us the story of Georges Meilies who was a French illusionist and filmmaker who became very famous for many special techniques which he developed during the early days of  cinema. He suffered a decline and tragic losses and was alienated from his earlier great successes. He ultimately became recognized and revered once again in his senior years. The real story of how this came about was not the fairy tale story, which is depicted in this movie, which is quite delightful and resonates with all our fantasies and sentimentality. The bonus treat here is that we  also see lots or real footage of classic French movie clips, many by the real Georges Meilies. So when we toss our 3D glasses in the bin on the way out – the memory and the good feeling of the movie will stay with us. (2011)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids

We Bought a Zoo

January 6th, 2012 — 6:48am

***

We Bought A Zoo- rm  You get exactly what you expect with this movie. We saw it with our grandchildren and we all thought it was a good enjoyable movie. Interestingly enough, it is based on a true story. After his wife dies Benjamin Mee  (Matt Damon) moves his   family which consists of two kids (Colin Ford  and Maggie Elizabeth Jones) to the California countryside (the real life location was in London, England) where he buys a house connected to a dilapidated zoo. There is a crew of variegated zoo keepers trying to fix it up which includes their wise and appealing leader  Kelly  (Scarlett Johansson). There is Mee’s  caring older brother  (Thomas Haden Church) who thinks Mee is clearly doing the wrong thing by spending all is money trying to save this zoo. Then there are the animals who are …well exactly as you would expect them to be. There are a couple of other well done roles including Elle Fanning as the budding teenager who takes a fancy to the budding Mee child and  John Michael Higgins as the mean zoo inspector who could prevent the zoo from reopening.  Cameron Crowe ( of  Jerry McGuire fame) had the directing honors and the movie has all the ingredients for a successful Christmas movie which will live on for children and grown up children of all ages through Netflix. (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Family / Kids

War Horse

December 9th, 2011 — 9:25pm

****

War Horse sp –  Steven Spielberg, producer and director along with  his team may have made another classic film. The movie is based on a book by Michael Morpurgo  as well as Broadway show that had puppets for the horses. The screen play is by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis. The film has very well done elements, a music score by John Williams, photography by Janusz Kaminski and features Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Peter Mullan and Tom Hiddleston and what appeared to be a cast of thousands. The storyline  deals   with the universal appeal of the love of an animal, father-son relationship, accomplishing something against almost impossible odds, the fascination with epic war scenes, breathtaking scenery with magnificent colors and much more. The problem with this 146 minute  film is that is that it seems that Spielberg and the writers  couldn’t decide if this were to be a young person’s movie where you fall in love with the horse , root for it, cry with it and identify with the young people who befriend this lovely creature. Or is it really an adult movie which gives us the best and most realisitic  depiction of World War I  trench warfare and the battle scenes since , All Is Quiet on the Western Front ? It obviously is a combination of both which probably made it a little difficult for us to get completely lost in it since we weren’t sure if it was our child self or adult self that was into the film. At the point where we might think that it would a great film for our 10 year old granddaughter ( it is PG-13 however) , the story progresses where we are watching a fairly violent massive battle scene although no blood  is really shown. And just as we were getting into the realism of World War I we realize the German soldiers are speaking English with a German accent. ( German with subtitles may have been more realistic a la  Tarrentino’s Inglorious Basterds) . We recall reading stories where during World War I, opposing sides on Christmas Day or other occasions would emerge from their trenches and socialize and then return to their respective sides and continue to try to wipe each other out. This spirit was captured so well in the highlight of the film where two soldiers from opposites sides of the battle line meet midway between their trenches because they care about a horse. No doubt the appeal of this film will be to people from both sides of the age divide and should be enjoyed by most of them.(2011)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids, War

My Father’s Glory

November 7th, 2011 — 4:48am

***

My Father’s Glory – nf  (In French with English voiceover or subtitles). The movie is based on the best selling memoirs of French novelist and filmmaker Marcel Pagnol and is directed by Yves Robert. If we had known the story of the movie, we probably would have passed on it. Somehow it ended up on our Netflix queue, which meant someone, or some publication recommended it highly, so we let it roll (so to speak). It is a beautifully framed picturesque film set in the early 1900s. It is seen through the eyes of an older Frenchmen who is the narrator recalling his childhood especially, his view of his father. Most of the movie shows his family’s summer vacation, which includes his mother, sibs, uncle and aunt and their small children in the countryside and mountains in southern France. Being a city boy he is intrigued with  nature and the wide open country experience with mountains, birds and game . He idolizes his schoolteacher father and has some problems with seeing his uncle, an experienced woodsman who is more knowledgeable in shooting and hunting. He encounters a young local boy his age with whom he becomes friendly and even considers sneaking off and staying by himself in the countryside. Aside from being magnificently photographed, it is a touching, heartwarming film with some comedic moments. I think it probably is the perfect movie to watch with a preadolescent son or grandson. (1990)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids

Toy Story 3

September 8th, 2010 — 7:19am

Toy Story 3* * *
Toy Story 3
– rm – Since we had missed the opportunity to take our grandkids to this animated movie we were going to pass on it. However several of our friends went out of the way to tell us that this was a good adult movie even without youngsters – so we decided to see it in our local theater. The master of the toys is about to go away to college so he has to pack them up for the attic, donate them or send them to the trash and maybe take one to school with him. The toys themselves are divided on what to do and the story goes from there. Needless to say the story is quite touching . It was also suspenseful and at times more scary and violent than we expected – the kind that where toy characters get bopped around or are just a hair away from being pulverized by some big machine. The youngsters in the theater seem to handle these emotions quite well and reacted very positively about the whole movie. There is the requisite moral of the story and that is if you work together and are loyal that is a good thing and you will get rewarded. As expected the animation was superb and, of course, the voices of the characters who were mostly familiar actors and actresses who were at their best. Tom Hanks was the voice of Woody the leading character. A partial list of the outstanding other voices include Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Michael Keaton, John Razenberg , with Don Rickles and Estelle Harris playing Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head. The movie was directed by Lee Unkrick who also directed Toy Story 2. It met our expectation but we still think we would have enjoyed it more with our youngsters. On the other hand we didn’t see the 3D version although we doubt that would have made us up our rating. We would imagine it is a don’t miss movie for any kid over 4 or 5 or anyone really young at heart 2010

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Family / Kids

The Perfect Game

September 6th, 2010 — 3:05am

* * * *
The Perfect Game
– sp – This “Rocky” movie is for dyed in the wool baseball fans. It is the true story of 1957 odyssey of some poor Mexican kids in Monterrey, Mexico who formed a Little League baseball team and went on to win the Little League World Series in the U. S. The movie is interspersed with actual documentary footage which confirms the authenticity of the movie. Cheech (of Cheech and Chong of earlier days) does an excellent job of playing a Priest who is connected to the team. The child actors are outstanding. The producer confirmed to us that just about every theme and story in the movie is based on actual events. If you like baseball, you can’t miss this movie. (Although they are Mexican players the movie is in English) 2009

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, Family / Kids, Sport

Shorts

September 6th, 2010 — 2:19am

* * *
Shorts
– rm – Did you ever imagine what it would be like if you had a magic object that would grant you any wish? That is the premise of this children’s movie and the morale of the story is to be careful what you wish for. You could even confront your own nose bugger as a giant monster. This movie follows a young kid who is pushed around a lot in school, especially by a girl his age. He and his friends find away to change things and in doing so have quite an adventure. We saw this movie with our two grandchildren who were the main reviewers of this film especially since we didn’t feel that it had any great appeal to grown ups. We all agreed that it held our interest for most of the time. Events were presented in a unique manner. There is was even an lesson to be learned as that is if we work together, we can accomplish much more than if we just do what we want as individuals. There was a little too much bullying than was needed for the story although there was no serious violence. The magical fantasies were cute but not very imaginative. Compared to some of the other children’s films that come around, this does not stand out very much but many kids will like it. 2009

Comment » | 3 Stars, Family / Kids

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