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Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole: Soars on Powerful Wings
Remember when you first saw "Peter Pan," at a tender age and you were spell bound? "Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Holle" will bring back that same impression for everyone at any age. Yes, that is a very strong statement to make but the film flies on such great wings to support such a claim. Fantasy can unleash a wonderful feeling and emotion on an audience and the effects of the 3D only greatly enhances this experience. Viewing this film at a screening allows one to see how children, parents, grand parents, and those in between, to react together in an environment without cell phones! That is correct, no external, electronic, audio, or video interference allowed. This brought the audience closer,as a group because the only interaction was The Owls of Ga'Holle. The audience was laughing, gasping, and thrilled with the events and the 3D visual effects. The story of " The Owls," is not new, except for the very young, but an excellent mixing of tales, stories, and fables which teach us all life's lessons. Two young brother owls, Soren (Jim Sturges) and Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) sneak out after their parents leave the nest for food, to try their young wings. Suddenly, they are kidnapped by two larger owls and taken away. Thus begins an incredible journey. The voices of Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, and Sam Neil are also in the cast. The film is directed by Jack Snyder who works magic on the silver screen in this film. The flying portions and the 3D alone are worth the price of admission. "The Owls," is based on the children's novels by Kathryn Lasky, called "the Guardians of Ga'Hoole." This film is rated PG but parents use caution, younger children may be upset by the reality of life and the battle scenes. See "The Owls," on a large screen, allow the magic to let you ride on the wings of "The Guardians."
The Road (2009)
The Road: The First Step looking back on a new beginning
For some unknown reason the Earth has become a lifeless globe. The majority of plants and animals are dead. Yet a few determined souls scratch out a daily living, constantly moving forward, such is the case; of a Man and his Boy. The Man (Viggo Mortensen) and The Boy (Kodi Smit-McPhee) play their parts with an incredible amount of realism and love. I read in an article that the two bonded during the film by eating grass hoppers together. A diet of dead insects as the mainstay of a pair of survivalists would most certainly make comrades of most anyone. The film, directed by John Hillcoat, is shot in color but Mr. Hillcoat's directorial use of the camera has the stark appearance of bleak black and white moments of despair. The title, The Road, might refer to the constant walking and reference to the map The Man uses as a guide to the sea. This of course is not the only interpretation of The Road, one must remember that The Man and The Boy are scavengers, seeking out food, water, and shelter for each day to survive. Along their journey their are many pitfalls and surprises. The Man instills upon The Boy, that his son must carry "The Fire" inside him. Yes, "The Fire," is also a physical necessity but "The Fire" kept inside might be the spirit of man, and what is wholesome and good. The Man also dreams of his life before the change and his wife and family. His wife (Molly Parker) has a very strong motherly influence and as a life partner. Hillcoat interweaves the now and the past all through the film. This use of flashbacks keeps a sense of continuity, in the film. The use of sound and visual stimuli throughout the film is very unexpected and director Hillcoat keeps his audience 's attention constantly. Remember, this film is rated "R" because of realism, blood, and mature content. The film score also works very well with the constant changes of scenery and action. The Road is showing in limited theaters because it is not a family film especially being released during the holidays. See The Road and feel the step by step journey for your self, it is most definitely worth the trip.
Avatar: Cameron's Comic Flicker
With great expectations, my guest and I laid down $20.00 for a matinée, to view the greatest 3D film ever to be shown on the silver screen! Three fourths of the way through, I was still looking for that film. To be more precise, I felt as though I had gone through a time machine, to my youth in the 1950's on a Saturday afternoon, watching 35 cartoons and two 3D science fiction films. Avatar was the same old Cowboys and Indians all over again but in reverse. On the planet Pandora, humans are seeking the path to unlimited power at the cost of the indigenous population. The name of the planet, Pandora, should give the audience a clue, that maybe this is a box better left closed. The citizens of Pandora live in harmony with each other and their entire planet. The humans, who want to study the Na'vi, incubate Avatars in which they can join psychologically and mingle with the general population. The company the scientists work for are a paramilitary organization who will stop at nothing to obtain their goal. So we have the Na'vi on one side and the paramilitary on the other side, who do you think will win? Does the name of the film give you the slightest hint? I thought so. James Cameron who wrote and directed this 3D film to end all 3D films should have stopped at 120 minutes and left the other 40 for his director's cut.
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek:Galaxy Quest of 2009
Director J.J. Abrams has brought forth this years Science Fiction Comedy hit, of the year. There are more laughs per moment, just as in Galaxy Quest. The top Banana is Dr. Leonard 'Bones' Mc Coy, (Karl Urban) followed closely by his Second Banana, Scotty. (Simon Pagg) Captain Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) also do very well, as the other comedy team, in this film. If you are a 'first season' Trekkie, then, the sight gags are even funnier. Because of the 'spoilers' rule, this reviewer cannot site, any examples. Hikaru Sulu, (John Cho) stands on his own 'chops', with his Samurai blade, in hand. The CGI , is excellent, as one would expect, in this 'early days' epic, but it does not make the film as stupendous, as it is. The large cast and crew, as shown in the 300 seconds of credits, bears, this out. If you have the slightest bit of Trekkie, in you, do not pass up this comedy, on the large screen.
My Bloody Valentine (2009)
My Bloody Valentine 3-D: My waste of time, the other day
My Bloody Valentine 3-D is simply cash out of pocket and no chocolates! The only reason for this complete waste of time and money was on the premise, of an adult, 3-D thriller. This film is a remake of the My Bloody Valentine. (1981) The actions of a gas mask wearing, coverall clothed, coal miner, gone crazy. Director Patrick Lussieer, obviously was not sure, if he wanted to make a comedy or a horror film, to pay homage to this horror classic. So, instead, he put both genera's together and came up with neither. Yes, there are a few very funny scenes, but these few, do not make a film. This attempt at a horror movie, is R rated because of nudity, graphic violence, and adult sexuality. As a slasher-splatter film it is too forced, even in 3-D. The use of 3-D CGI, in this film does not go far enough. Wearing the Grey-tinted 3-D glasses are much better for the viewer, but not so in this attempt. The reason is simple: items that do come at you, right out of the screen, do not complete their journey. Weather it be a pick Ax, flames of fire, or bullets, all of these missiles, stop short of their marks. Similarly, the actors fall just as flat. Tom Hanniger (Jensen Ackles) the male lead, should have stayed on the small screen, as the lead in Supernatural. Sarah Palmer (Jamie King) his love interest, should force her agent to see this film, as punishment for a waste of her acting talent. The rest of the cast, except for the pickax toting coal miner should go back to position one, and stay there! The monster of this film, the coal miner, is the only character, who stays in character, and does so, true to form. As the ending credits were rolling, so was the audience; right out of the theater. But to those of you who really want their best dollar value, stay to the bitter end. My Bloody Valentine 3-D is a very, empty, box of chocolates.
Gran Torino (2008)
Gran Torino:Mr. Eastwood's last laugh
Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood) has just buried his wife, ended his long term marriage, and begins what appears to be, a lonely life, until he, is lowered into the ground. At least that is what Mr. Kowalski, thinks how he will live out the rest of his days. Nothing could be further from reality, for Walt. When an Oriental family takes ownership of the house next door, Walt's life begins anew. To say that Mr. Kowalski, is set in his own ways, is to admit the obvious. A Korean War Veteran, this proud American, does not adapt to change very well, at all. This single factor, adapting, is the glue, which pulls this very funny film, together. The trailers, paint a very different image, for the movie viewing public. The trailers, make Mr. Kowalski out to be a very rude, violent, and closed individual. 90 percent of Gran Torino is a comedy. The jokes are all about humans and how to change and get along, no matter how different people are, on the outside. Mr. Eastwood, directed this coming of age film and how all of the characters in the film, no matter how old they are, can change. Sue Lor (Ahney Her) first approaches Mr. Kowalski, as one of his new neighbors, from the family next door. Sue, learns about Walt's loss of his wife, and shares similar feelings because she too, has just lost a loved one. Thao Vang Lor (Bee Vang) the younger brother of Sue, is the focal point, of the film, because of the relationship which he develops with Walt. The Grand Torino, is a beautiful car, owned by Walt, when he worked on the line, at Ford Motor Company. The car also has a history but it is better that the film viewers, find that out for themselves. To comfort Walt, is the role of Father Janovich (Christopher Carley) but in time, the priest and the widower learn to stand tall. As I said earlier, everyone in this film, learns, how to change. This is a period film and the attention that is paid to the era from whence it comes, stays true. Maybe we all should take a drive in the Gran Torino, and change.
Burn After Reading (2008)
Burn After Reading: Blurred after Seeing
Another Coen Brothers comedy of who is screwing who? Maybe, but more to the point this is an example of a 90 minute string film, with a missing 30 minuets. Is this flick funny, yes, not as funny all the time, but very funny, at times. It is really a stoner film, disguised as a short FARGO. Too much information is given out without enough, ending plot. The film opens and closes with an aerial view of The Pentagon. Possibly to give an air of finality or complete misunderstanding. The story line is about how so many people, can enjoy being screwed, either from the vantage point of prey or predator. As with all Coen Brother films, this one is full of A-Star Power. Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney) a philandering husband, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) an exercise employee who is one of Clooney's bed mates. Osbourne Cox (John Malkovich) a recently unemployed CIA agent who is married to Doctor Katie Cox (Tilda Swanton) who is also screwing Mr. Clooney. Then there is Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) who gets a real screwing by Mr. Clooney, completely by accident. There are many point of view shots in this film, that causes the audience to question, why? Is the audience supposed to view each point of view shot as a separate but very important point in the film, each time this scenario shows itself on screen? One must decide this question for oneself, or maybe just e-mail the Coen Brothers. Seeing the film as a screener, allowed this reviewer not to get screwed, by evening movie prices. My vision and my viewing pleasure of this film were both blurred, after seeing.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman:The Dark Knight: Bruce Wayne: Come out into the Light
The Dark Knight pays homage to the Michael Keaton:Batman. A very dark venture into the twisted psychology's of the main characters. The Joker, (Heath Ledger) Harvey Dent, (Aaron Eckhart) and of course, Bruce Wayne, (Christian Bale) are all men whose souls have one thing in common; the desire to be perfect. This of course is impossible, because, being human makes one fallible. The trait, these three males also share, is the lack of the fear, of death. Unfortunately, this flick, spends too much time, dealing out, the death card. The Joker's personal card, is a playing card, with a joker, on the face. While the film is quite intense, there is too much murder, a foot, with little bloodshed. The rating of The Dark Knight is PG- 13, it may in fact, have been better served, with an R. The rating of any film, decides the audience, who can view said flicker, but in today's movie market, top box office billing is the driving force. The Dark Knight, is not intended for children, under 12 years of age. The question of reality verses fiction, in the mind of the young, is a defining factor, when trying to resolve this film, in the young mind. Listening to a conversation between two boys after viewing the film, brings out this question. "The Joker is a genius!" said one lad. I said, "The Joker, was a genius." The two boys said nothing in return, and walked away. So much for the understanding, of a film, intended for adults, by two youths. The fact, that the passing of Mr. Ledger, and his role, as The Joker, may be too much for children, to comprehend. Commissionair Gordon, (Gary Oldman) is the true hero, of The Dark Knight. He is portrayed as a man, with very, deep, family values. This quality, plants his feet firmly on the ground, and not with the death defying aspects of The Joker, Harvey Dent, or Bruce Wayne. When Gordon comes home, from a murderous night in Gothem, he is not alone. This factor separates him, from the rest of the main cast. The audience knows, that all of the rest of the main leads, are alone. The other problem with The Dark Knight, is the fact, that it is a sequel. When The Dark Knight, rides off alone, at the conclusion of the this film, the audience is not sure, what direction, this franchise will follow. With so many dying, the question is, who is left for a third?
Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)
Hellboy Ii: The Golden Army: Satan's Son's Sequel Stumbles
If you have not viewed the first Hellboy, all the better for you, when you do see, Hellboy II. Through a 'flashback' scene, at the beginning of this sequel, the audience is introduced to the now dead, Professor Trever "Broom" Brutenholm. ( John Hurt) The setting is right out of an old, 'Father Knows Best,' early 1950's television sitcom. The silver screen brings forth, Director Guilleino del Toro's, "Professor and Hellbrat!" A vision, of father and Hellpest, at home, where too much time is not left, on the cutting-room floor. Wait for the Director's Editon, when it comes out on DVD. Hellboy is supposed to be a larger than life character, but in Hellboy II, he is not. This is made painfully aware, to the audience, when our hero is standing next to his team mates. In the original Hellboy, 'Red' (Ron Perlman) is presented as a much, larger-than-life creature from the underworld! Where do you think, the name of the film, came from, for the screenplay! Hellboy's love interest is the very hot, in fact on fire, Liz Sherman(Selma Blair). Unfortunately there is not an ounce, of this once, very heated, relationship in this sequel. No passion, and the plot suffers! There is however, Abe Sapien, (Doug Jones) whose comic relief, as an aqua-breathing, Lothario, saves the film, from death by deadpan acting, and lack of any emotion at all. Even Tom Manning (Jeffery Tambor) as the acting, bumbling, chief, of the organization, whose job is 'to bump back at things, which go bump in the night', offers little in the way of humor. Where Hellboy II does shine, is the attention, which Mr. del Toro, spent on the creatures, 'who do go bump in the night'. The interaction of 'Red' and his crew in the action sequences, are quite good, but not enough to equal Hellboy I. Now some may say, that this production, is made to show 'Red's' more human side, if so, then Hellboy II, most certainly, stumbles, over his own feet, of red clay.
Journey To The Center of the Earth 3D: Jules Verne's Tale leaps off the page!
If you cannot see Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3D, do not waste your money or your time. Basically a children's film but the CGI makes it a wonderful, adventure land, thrill ride, for all. Unlike Superman Returns, the entire film is shown in 3D, so keep your 3D glasses on your face, for the entire ride. This is a PG rated production, but parents 'BE WARNED', do not leave your under 10 year old children, to watch this film alone. There are some very scary sequences, that may leave younger children feeling, uncomfortable, with resulting nightmares. So if you want to take your younger set, go along with them, and enjoy. Directed by Eric Breyig, who does an excellent effort, combining adult and children actors, together, as a working, polished, unit. Professor Trevor Anderson (Brandon Fraser) and his 13 year old nephew, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) follow the path of the Jules Verne novel to find his missing brother and father. The two adventure seeking uncle and nephew, find a guide, Hannah Asgeirrson (Anita Briem) and the quest is on! One suggestion, if you have the time, read the original novel by Jules Verne, before you view the film. Then the film will be more like, the exciting, adventure, it was meant to be, and a fantasy, video, primer for you, that does jump off the page!