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Freaky Friday (2003)
8/10
Remake? Shmeemake! This is great!
16 August 2005
The new "Freaky Friday" is a very fun movie. It seemed that Disney decided to get it right this time. The original was released in 1976; the latter 1970s was not the best of times for Walt Disney Productions.

In this new version, everyone in the cast is a delight! After seeing "Herbie: Fully Loaded," I wanted to see more of Lindsay Lohan. Hey, I am 41, but I am glad to say that I am one of her new fans. She is both pretty and quite talented. Of course, for us "older folks," there is also Jamie Lee Curtis and Mark Harmon. Harmon plays the straight man to Curtis; she is hilarious here.

"Freaky Friday" was fun for my entire family. It comes with our complete recommendation. And the DVD is a kick too!
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7/10
Enjoyable work of an old story
27 July 2005
When I first heard that they were making a new "Chocolate Factory," I couldn't see any reason. The original is a classic, and was the first movie I went to as a kid.

A refreshing take on the new film is that it is not simply a remake of the 1971 movie. This one tells you much more about Willy Wonka and the operation of the factory. There are a few updates to the story: Mike Teevee is a video game nut!

There are some very hilarious moments in the movie. I won't spoil them and tell you what to look for, but be prepared to laugh. Also, this film shows more of Johnny Depp's talent. His Willy Wonka is completely different from the great Jack Sparrow he played in "Pirates Of The Caribbean."

Everyone in my family had a good time with it, so it comes with our recommendation. I did not feel compelled to compare it to the 1971 movie. That one will always have a special place in my heart, but this new version of the story is wonderful!

Since it is made my Tim Burton, you will see his style everywhere. One small aspect of it that I did not care for was that it takes place in the winter. Everything seemed so cold and dark at first. In the 1971 film, it is a beautifully sunny day when the children arrive at Wonka's factory, giving the feeling that everyone is about to enter a fantasy land.

Still, this new one will not disappoint. Fun and funny stuff!
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8/10
Wonderful again!
29 June 2005
My family and I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It was one of those rare occasions where the audience applauded at the end! The majority of the people stayed and watched the credits until they were over.

It is for this reason that I am at a complete loss when someone like Roger Ebert trashes it and says that the film is terrible. I can't understand that. Do they not have kids? Would they prefer that children avoid innocent fun like this and watch a darker film like Harry Potter? All of the Herbie movies are only meant to be fun. This is a delight!

Of course, it must be remembered that this film is a sequel. For anyone to get a complete understanding of Herbie, I recommend looking at the original 1969 movie, "The Love Bug". Of course, the creators of "Fully Loaded" operated on the assumption that we all fully grasp the Herbie concept. Did you read that, Roger Ebert?

Seeing Herbie again is like seeing a friend or relative you haven't seen in a long time. It is funny how my kids referred to the car as "him" and not "it"! This movie also makes them think of the new Beetles as females! The theater we went to had one of the original 1963 VW Beetles, that was used in the filming of the first two Herbie films, parked in the lobby! I have no idea what it is worth, but it was in mint condition.

Lindsay Lohan is quite charming here! I definitely will watch for more with her in the future. I am sure that Disney will release this on DVD by Christmas. I will buy it for sure!
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8/10
Amazing because it was real
23 May 2005
"The Right Stuff" is a wonderful movie, and it made me realize how different things were in the era, long before Vietnam, Watergate, and 9-11. It was a time of hopes, dreams, and triumphs, when men literally flew by the seats of their pants. In this 21st century, we never hear of any program that operates like this. The period from 1947 to the early 1960s was a fantastic time. Perhaps there was more imagination and spirit then.

Disney released a set of programs that were produced in the 1950s that depicted quite accurately how man would operate in space. They detailed how to get to the moon and Mars. I marveled at how these were accurately calculated, years before real space missions were accomplished.

"The Right Stuff" covers such history, beginning with Chuck Yeager's breaking of the sound barrier in 1947. He did it not for money or glory, but simply because he wanted to. Certainly, with broken ribs and a lot of pain, it was an even more difficult task, but he accomplished it nonetheless.

After seeing this film, you understand exactly what the "Right Stuff" is. Like mountain climbers who do it "because it's there", or paratroopers who jump because they "can't think of a better way down", there is a quality to the bravest who do something because they feel they have to. This film beautifully demonstrates that.

I recommend this film for all to see. It is a beautiful positive, beyond space tragedies like the shuttle accidents. It is so well filmed and finely acted, I almost felt that I was there with them.
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All of Me (1984)
6/10
Martin kept getting better
25 April 2005
Steve Martin's early movie efforts seemed to be very hit and miss. When "All Of Me" was released in 1984, he began to finally hit a stride of one good one after another. They took full advantage of his physical nature, and he convincingly portrays someone who is partially inhabited by someone else (Lilly Tomlin).

While it is not his best film, it is certainly not his worst. I recommend it to any Steve Martin fan. My kids enjoyed it as well; of course their first contact with Martin was in "Cheaper By The Dozen". Lilly Tomlin was also quite enjoyable in this picture.

Rated PG, there is little to find offensive. Great fun!
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Robots (2005)
4/10
Kids love it. I yawned.
15 April 2005
Often in computer-animated films, it seems that the intention of the filmmakers is to dazzle us with visuals that would simply be impossible to realize or create any other way. That works when the story is also filled with heart, and the environment in which the characters populate has at least some reality.

"Robots" has none of that. It comes across as a Pixar wannabe, but fails miserably. Perhaps the creators hoped that we would be entertained by celebrity voices, but even that is tiresome. Robin Williams has done marvelous films over the years, and his voice worked perfectly in Disney's "Aladdin." Here, it is not funny, but is merely mildly appealing.

It was fun to hear Mel Brooks again; I will give the movie that. But his portions are not that much. Ewan McGregor's voice is wasted on this. His talent really shines in the more recent "Star Wars" films. In "Robots" he is practically unrecognizable.

Children will love "Robots". My kids did. On the other hand, I almost fell asleep in several portions. I was not impressed. I did not see a magical world that seemed astounding like the underwater settings of "Finding Nemo." This looks more like someone hoped to create splendor in a junkyard.
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Sacred Planet (2004)
7/10
Just beautiful!
8 April 2005
Films that show people who are able to live simpler lives in unusual situations always fascinate me. This was a film that captivated me through every frame. It is filmed with such beauty that the images are quite striking.

I especially enjoyed how it demonstrates a difference between these rural situations with big city life. Cities are shown with high-speed imagery; cars fly by with incredible ferocity. This is then followed by transitions of killer whales surfacing, schools of fish swirling around, and monkeys jumping from tree to tree.

Native people are seen in canoes, or are hiking carrying long spears for the hunt. This film did not leave me with a sudden urge to live their kind of lives; however, I enjoyed what I saw.

It does not portray people as necessarily evil or bad for the earth as much as it demonstrates our need to care for what we have. This is the only Earth we know of. Let's take care of it.
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7/10
Great Family Entertainment! Even adults can love it!
28 March 2005
This is a wonderful movie in a lot of ways. Everyone in my family enjoyed it. The animation is excellent and easily demonstrates that there are plenty of producers who create films that are as visually brilliant as anything that comes from the Disney Studio.

One difference from the normal Disney fare is that this Dreamworks movie does not feature some wise-cracking side kick for comedy relief. And, there are no sudden moments where the characters break into song. I am sure that a scene at the beginning of the film would not appear in a Disney picture: the birth of Spirit. But it is done tastefully and is not offensive at all. "Spirit" was a great breath of fresh air. Don't get me wrong. I have loved Disney for years and will continue to do so.

"Spirit" is another example of great animated fare. As soon as it was over, my kids wanted to watch it again. I had the same feeling. I thoroughly recommend it.
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Bambi (1942)
8/10
Truly amazing on DVD!
22 March 2005
The recent re-release of "Bambi" was something I was not in an immediate hurry to buy, but I am sure glad I did. In fact, it is the perfect DVD companion to the "Disney On Front Lines" collection that recently came out, because it was in theaters during World War II.

Here again is a movie that went through a pain-staking restoration. In fact, the Disney people had to go through the film frame by frame, correcting colors and scratches that built up over the years. Hosted by Patrick Stewart, the documentary was very interesting. The final result is incredible to look at, for the film does not look like something that was released 63 years ago.

This collection has some additional fascinating extras that really make it worth the purchase. Stewart explains about meetings Walt Disney had with others in the studio. On this DVD, they were re-enacted by actors for a voice over that showed how a lot of "Bambi" was put together. Whoever it is who performed the Walt Disney voice, he sounds exactly like him.

Beyond that, this is an extremely captivating work. Disney remarked that a portion of the film was inspired by something he had done in a Pluto cartoon, and a side-by-side comparison demonstrates it.

This is truly great stuff for any Disney collector. For myself, I have always been enthralled by all of the incredible accomplishments Walt Disney had done in his day. I truly recommend this. Certainly, "Bambi" is a great film, but this DVD manages to make it even better.
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The Cowboys (1972)
8/10
The best of the Duke for everyone
14 March 2005
Obviously, John Wayne had a long and distinguished career in the movies. Of course, he was merely playing himself time after time. In this movie, that works wonderfully well.

He plays Wil Anderson, a man in his 60s with little else he can do but hire a classroom of boys to help with a cattle drive. This makes for a fun outing for anyone in any age group. Roscoe Lee Browne is well cast here. His scene with Colleen Dewhurst is very well played. Bruce Dern is great, too!

My son, who is a big fan of "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones", pointed out the John Williams music in "The Cowboys"; it is very good indeed.

"The Cowboys" is my choice for the movie to introduce people to John Wayne. It definitely makes you want to see more! Out of four stars, I rate it: ***.5
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The Twilight Zone (2002–2003)
Better than you might think
23 February 2005
I thoroughly enjoyed this revival of Serling's classic. In fact, there were a couple of episodes that were re-makes of original shows, and one was a sequel to an episode done back on the original series.

Beyond those, there were plenty of stories that were original and well done themselves. This show was certainly superior to the one done back in the mid-'80s. They really seemed to do Mr. Serling proud. It's unfortunate that UPN canceled this after one season. I enjoyed all of it.

I really liked Forrest Whitaker as the host of this new "Zone". He did a wonderful job here. Do I sound like I recommend this show? YES!
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Lost classic
17 February 2005
Many fans have looked negatively on this series. That is too bad, and they do not give it the attention and credit it fully deserves. Sure there is an episode or two that was simply okay, but overall, I enjoyed all of it.

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of "Star Trek", was paid money for this series. He said that it was not part of "official" Star Trek. I think that is ridiculous, since he had the final approval of all of the scripts, and there were some great ones.

If anyone faulted the animation of this show, it must be remembered of what the state of animated films was in 1973. Even Disney had cut back considerably by that time; look at Disney's "Robin Hood" to see what I mean.

Because "Star Trek - The Animated Series" had a limited budget, there was not enough money to bring back Walter Koenig to play Chekov. But the show is a fine example of how "Trek" could work in animation.

And that is its finest accomplishment of all.
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7/10
The bottom line is fun
15 February 2005
When I think of the Indiana Jones movies, "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" was the best, but its sequels were great fun. In 1989, when "Last Crusade" was released, I had some sadness because I knew it was going to be the last of the trilogy.

I accepted it, just as I had accepted the ending of the original "Star Wars" trilogy. There always comes a time for things to end.

Still, I thought "Last Crusade" was the weakest of the films. I enjoyed "Temple Of Doom" more, with its edge of your seats excitement.

It is fun, but almost requires seeing the other Jones movies first. It has some of the same silliness as the others. I am a Sean Connery fan, but having him as Indiana Jones' dad was almost too much. Still, it brings plenty of smiles. It figures that Indiana Jones' father would be James Bond!

Go ahead; have fun with it.
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Savage Sam (1963)
7/10
A worthwhile follow-up to Old Yeller
12 February 2005
We all know that "Old Yeller" is a classic. It will always stand out as one of the best live-action Disney films of its time. With that said, does any kind of follow-up film deserve any attention? "Savage Sam" certainly does. It is another well made Disney adventure. Classic? Almost, but "Old Yeller" was a tough act to follow.

I found "Savage Sam" refreshing because it made no attempt to be anything like "Yeller". Sam the dog is not a threat to anyone. In this movie, he is also not the center of attention. This story is different; Travis and Arliss are older. That's how it should be. Six years passed between the release of the movies.

Brian Keith was great in this film. Here, he is supposed to be the younger brother of Fess Parker's character in "Yeller". I really liked him here.

As another DVD in my Disney collection, everyone in the family enjoyed it. I give it *** out of four stars.
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Quantum Leap (1989–1993)
A Blast!
2 February 2005
It is wonderful to see that Universal is finally putting "Quantum Leap" out on DVD sets. At the time of this writing, the first two seasons have been released, and my family all loves the show.

One of the favorites was in the second season when Sam Beckett leaps into a beautiful girl! The concept of the show is unique. There are endless possibilities where Sam might go.

Scott Bakula was never better. Sure, it is fun to see him come back in "Star Trek - Enterprise", but his best is in "Quantum Leap".

Dean Stockwell is a hoot! The relationship between Al and Sam was perfect. I recommend this show to anyone who enjoys fantasies we all wish we were in.
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10/10
"Greatest" is not enough
1 February 2005
What I am about to say may seem absurd, yet it is the truth from my heart. There are movies that everyone should see, yet one viewing would suffice. There are films that have such powerful messages, with images that are beyond words. They are burned into your consciousness forever.

"Schindler's List" is such a film. It remains Steven Spielberg's finest achievement. In fact, it is the greatest accomplishment in cinema. Eleven years after seeing the film, portions still linger in my mind's eye.

Obviously, a film like this can never be matched. Spielberg never tried to. He let it speak for itself.

These days, with the advent of DVDs and high-definition screens, I have never felt totally compelled to buy "Schindler's List" on disc. Perhaps I should, and maybe I will. It's not that I do not want to see the movie again, and it is certainly not that I think it is a bad film.

The truth is that it so conveys its message so powerfully, it succeeds at what it is trying to do in ways that words cannot describe.

Out of four stars, I rate this one *****. That's right, even four stars are not adequate.

George
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6/10
Fun in an '80s kind of way
31 January 2005
"Flight Of The Navigator" was an enjoyable adventure for our family. While some of the visual effects seem somewhat dated, and the story focusing on the boy as it should, the maturity level was not that high. Still, it is better than other Disney films like "The Cat From Outer Space".

Maturity and intelligence is not what this movie is about. Fun is the bottom line. While this is not something to revisit time and again, it is not a bad addition to my Disney DVD collection. Out of my usual four stars, I would rate this one: **.5 If you are looking for excellent Disney features that hold up to many repeats, check out "20000 Leagues Under The Sea" or "Mary Poppins". But if a light story fits the bill, give "Flight Of The Navigator" a try.
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Titan A.E. (2000)
6/10
It is not Disney
24 January 2005
While "Titan AE" is not a Disney film, it is okay to look at. My children certainly enjoyed it. The question is: Do I recommend it? All throughout the picture, I kept telling myself that I had seen this kind of thing before. If there was any portion I objected to, it was the hokey rock soundtrack.

Admittedly, there are animated portions that are incredible to the eye. It really looked fabulous on my big-screen, high definition television. I imagine that it looked beautiful in the theater.

But, in the end, I am glad that I only paid $5 for this DVD. The movie entertained my kids, I thought it was okay, but I do not see myself watching this again and again.
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8/10
Childhood magic at its best!
21 January 2005
I honestly believe that everyone has a movie in their memories that relates directly to their childhoods. For myself, "Willy Wonka" was one I saw and experienced when I was a young boy, and as such, I could relate to Charlie.

I loved this movie when I saw it in 1971, and I still do. (It is now 2005 and I have the DVD) Gene Wilder really makes this so delightful. I remember as a kid that at times I really liked him, and in others I was almost scared. Still, I could not imagine anyone else playing Wonka.

I know a re-make with Johnny Depp sounds fun, but don't forget about the original. It is a classic, and belongs next to "The Wizard Of Oz".
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Innerspace (1987)
8/10
Wonderful fun!
20 January 2005
Occasionally, a movie comes along that is a delight from the beginning to end. "Innerspace" had all of the elements perfect, from writing to acting.

Martin Short is absolutely hysterical. This was the perfect vehicle for his physical nature. I never laughed at him in other films as much as I did here.

As I recall this movie in my home town, it did not spend that much time in the theater. I never saw it until it was released on video. It apparently did not gross that much money, and that is a mystery to me. It remains one of my all-time favorites.
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7/10
An enjoyable Disney movie
11 January 2005
I really took a chance when I bought the DVD of "Home On The Range" because I had not seen it. It is not my normal practice to buy something that I am totally unfamiliar with. However, I was happily surprised. This movie was wonderful! My kids and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Roseanne provided a funny voice to one of the cows. Love her or hate her, the casting was perfect, like Ellen DeGeneres was for "Finding Nemo".

I read here on IMDb that "Home On The Range" is the last Disney film to be done with traditional animation. Maybe there are faster or cheaper ways of making these movies, but a great history is coming to an end. Kind of sad… I recommend this movie. While it may not be a masterpiece, it is a delight that is better than most Don Bluth or Dreamworks films.

I would give it *** out of four. Fun and funny stuff!
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6/10
Fun is what it is all about
28 September 2004
'Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo' is a fun movie, and that is all it is meant to be. Some have said that it is not nearly as good as 'The Love Bug,' but let's face it: none of the Herbie films are about great brilliance. They are all about having fun and getting a laugh. The kids and I really enjoyed it.

It is great to see Dean Jones again, and he plays Jim Douglas as someone who knows, understands, and even loves Herbie. My only criticism of this film is that it lacks Buddy Hackett. Still, Don Knotts is a wonderful replacement.

On a four-star rating system, I give this one ***. Come to think of it, that is about what I would rate 'The Love Bug.'

The DVD of 'Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo' does not feature any extras, but there are plenty on the 'Love Bug' set, certainly enough to cover both films. Funny stuff, and loads of fun!
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Miracle (2004)
Better than usual
3 September 2004
If someone said to me that I was going to see a Disney film about hockey, I would have expected "The Mighty Ducks." If they said I was about to see a Disney movie with Kurt Russell, I would have expected comedy and music.

"Miracle" is above all of that. No, there are no tunes, or comedy. This tells the true story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team. Kurt Russell acts, and he is fantastic. I totally accepted him as a hockey coach.

I was surprised with the attention to detail in this picture. They had everything exactly right. It didn't take long to forget that I was seeing a Disney film with Kurt Russell. This one deserves a lot of credit, and Russell's acting has never been better.
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Spider-Man 2 (2004)
I can say I've seen it
3 September 2004
Okay, I can now say that I have seen "Spiderman 2." But let me give you my multi-faceted review of the film.

Of course, I really enjoyed "Spiderman 1." Willam Dafoe was a great villain as the Green Goblin. On a four-star rating system, I would give that film ***.

With that said, let me state that, for the record, I liked "Spiderman 2." But I must admit that there had to be a lot to that movie I simply did not see. I will address that this way:

1. Did you think it was better than the first one? Answer: No. Just the opposite, I found more enjoyment in the first film.

2. Did you like the villain of Doc Ock? Answer: He was okay, but not overly menacing.

3. Will this movie have a place in your DVD collection? Answer: Certainly. The wife and kids had plenty of fun with it.

I thought the movie was too long. The running time was around 2:15, but a half-hour could have easily been cut. A lot of screen time was spent on the relationship of Peter Parker with MJ. There were long periods where I said to myself, "Okay, I have had enough of this lovey-dovey stuff. Where is Doc Ock?

One super-hero movie sequel I liked a lot was "Superman II." Now, see if this sounds familiar: In that movie, Superman gives up his powers for the love of Lois Lane.

In "Spiderman 2," Peter Parker comes to the realization that he can have his powers if he truly wants them. Does he need to lose his powers for the love of Mary Jane?

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying "Spiderman 2" is a bad film. But I just need to be careful when I read reviewers who think it was the greatest super-hero film they have ever seen. I thought this movie was miles from that.
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Hidalgo (2004)
7/10
Beyond just horses
23 August 2004
Some of the reviews I have seen about this film make comparisons to 'Seabisquit'. They referred to it as a horse movie, and that would not be totally true. While Hidalgo is the name of the horse, and the name of the movie, there are many characters and situations that go beyond simple definitions.

One of the reasons that I enjoyed 'Never Cry Wolf' was its depiction of someone in extreme conditions. In that movie it was the intense cold. 'Hidalgo' shows us the opposite, a race across desert. It gives us an American (Viggo Mortensen) in a strange, alien land. I felt that I was along the journey with him.

My kids enjoyed it as much as I did, but I am sure they have their own unique reasons. Great films entertain on all levels, and 'Hidalgo' certainly does. I recommend and love it!
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