Category Archives: movie review

Movie Review: The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger was pretty good. It was maybe 20 minutes too long, but the action scenes were great. Most critics are panning the film, even though they say it’s fun, but that it’s long and over done. I agree only in part, because I think the movie is ultimately supposed to be fun, so the critics should be recommending it based on that.

The film has also gotten a lot of flak because of the whitewashing of Tonto. It did bother me a little that Depp was playing a Native American, but I was expecting them to play it off like the character was adopted into the tribe or something. And even if you say “well, Depp is part Cherokee,” he doesn’t even really know. I probably have as much or more Cherokee blood in me. I read a quote that he was trying to break away from Native American stereotypes in films. I don’t see how he could be successful at that. He still spoke in stereotypical stilted English, displayed ambiguous mysticism…

In the 50’s, the Lone Ranger TV show at least cast Jay Silverheels, who was Mohawk. Making Tonto partly white seems like a step in the wrong direction.

I’ve also heard criticism that the scenery in the film is nothing like Texas (and it was mostly filmed in New Mexico (and some Utah, Colorado and Arizona). Maybe that can be explained away somehow.

At the end of the day, it’s Johnny Depp’s ethnicity that affects my opinion of the film, though I liked everything else and thought it was fun. It’s not quite to the caliber of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Oh, wait… there was something else offputting in the movie: carnivorous bunnies. How did they belong?

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Movie Review: Wreck It Ralph

Yesterday, the fine folks at The Disney Parks Blog organized a Family Game Day Meet-Up at DisneyQuest with a preview screening of Wreck It Ralph. I was fortunate enough to be invited along with a friend from Twitter and her husband.

If you’re unfamiliar with DisneyQuest, it’s 5 floors and 100,000 square feet of video games and interactive attractions, like CyberSpace Mountain, where you can design a rollercoaster, and then ride it in a simulator with 360 degrees of movement (coaster with 13 loops FTW!).

For the upcoming release of Wreck It Ralph, they’ve added 7 arcade cabinets of Fix It Felix, Jr., the game from where Ralph comes. There was a long line to play these games, and while there’s a cluster of six on the 3rd floor, there’s a “hidden” one on the 4th floor, among the kiddie games.

I’m sure I could talk about the Lego building area that was set up that my son loved, or the Wreck It Ralph cupcakes that they had available, or the cool swag we got in the form of hero medals, or the contests that they had for playing the games.

But we all know you just want a review of Wreck It Ralph. Is it worth seeing? Is it worth seeing on the opening weekend?

Yes and yes!

Continue reading

Movie Review: Paranorman

Paranorman was the second movie my son and I saw this weekend, and we both liked The Odd Life of Timothy Green better. There are some similarities in the two films… both deal with children who are different from other kids and don’t fit in, both have some takes on bullies. In these themes, Timothy Green deals with them much better, because it seems to have more heart than Paranorman.

There is some heart in Paranorman, and it’s that of the filmmakers. There is amazing technical aptitude in the characters and the world of Paranorman, and you can sense the passion of the artists behind it. The special effects, too, especially in the final scenes are impressive. After the credits, there’s a stop-motion scene where they show an artist creating a Norman model, which is cool, and I think it supports the focus of the studio on the techniques more than the story.

The story is one you’ve seen before, kind of a mix between Monster Squad and Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners. If you’re looking for a similar movie with more scare factor, go with The Frighteners, and if you’re looking for kids fighting supernatural creatures, go with Monster Squad.

Paranorman is a horror movie. My son said it was both creepy and scary. The scary parts are of the jump out and scare you variety. The film was released in 3D, but we opted for one less dimension when we saw it. I bet young kids would especially freak out over the jumping out. There’s also some pretty adult humor for a PG movie. An example: Norman’s uncle wants him to promise to do something and he says, “I want you to swear” and Norman says, “What? Like the F word?” While he doesn’t actually say it, the line seemed really inappropriate in a PG movie. Maybe not quite as bad as the usage of “penisbreath” in E.T., but it’s not the only questionable dialogue in the film.

Overall, the movie was good. It’s a good mix of funny and creepy, and if you enjoy stop motion animation, you’ll love the way they’ve brought it to life.

It will be interesting to see how Frankenweenie does in comparison.

Movie Review: The Odd Life of Timothy Green

I took my son to see The Odd Life of Timothy Green yesterday. It’s not the movie we planned on seeing – we were going to see Paranorman, but there was a bad thunderstorm, we hadn’t had lunch, and our plans were fraying at the ends, so we walked into the AMC Dine-In Theater at Pleasure Island, just before noon, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green was starting at 12.

We were both surprised with how much we liked the film – we ended up liking it much more than we thought we would.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, the movie is about a couple unable to have kids who are suddenly surprised with the magical appearance of a 10 year old boy from their garden. It feels like a modern retelling of a classic fairy tale, but not one you’ve seen before. But there are pieces of the film that are familiar, that maybe you’ve seen before in films like The Martian Child. There are heavy themes in the movie as it deals with topics of infertility, adoption, parenting, love, death, bullies, the economy, and much more. It seems very rich in subtext as you think about it, but it’s all tied together with this one boy. The imagery and symbolism, while sometimes heavy-handed, helps tie all these themes together.

Even with all the deep themes underlying the story, the film remains whimsical, and appropriate for kids. My son is 10 and he liked it a lot. At the beginning, he said “this is a sad movie” and he’s right. The beginning is sad, but not as sad as Pixar’s Up. And I would say the film is much more uplifting.

Ultimately, the film is about emotion, and that’s really what makes it shine – the film feels familiar not just because of familiar plot elements or characters, but because we’ve felt these emotions that are shared in the film and that we all share with each other, just as the characters share them.

And at the end, the emotions linger, reinforced by every leaf you find on the ground after.

Movie Review: Brave

I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews about Brave. I just saw it and loved it. Don’t listen to the critics. Is it a prefect film? No. But few movies are.

Technically, as with all Pixar films, it is extremely well made. The art of it is beautiful. The landscapes are gorgeous. The 3D enhanced things without bring intrusive. The voice acting was perfect.

The story is not very original, but it’s solid, and the character of princess Merissa is pretty fresh. Most other characters are flat though. The world of the film is not big. It’s not an epic story. It seems like a chapter in a book of fairy tales, not a full novel. But those things don’t make it a bad film. It probably won’t make it a classic though either.

But Pixar is a business built to entertain, not to churn it classic films, and I think they have succeeded. This is better than a popcorn flick churned out by so many studios. Probably the worst thing Brave has going for it is the mountain of successes that precede it from Pixar. As their first fairy tale, if it didn’t hit the ball out of the park, it’s a solid hit to advance the runners. That’s ask the team and the fans need, even though Some people only want then to setting for the fences.

Is it okay to put baseball metaphors in a princess movie review?

I recommend you take your kids, and take yourself. You won’t fall asleep like I have done in other animated features that I’ve taken my soon to. I’d even see it twice because I missed Easter eggs that I know are there. And there’s a quick scene after the credits if you can feet your kids to stay still after the credits.

A final technical note… Our theater has the new Dolby Atmos sound system… One of 14 theaters that installed it for the release of Brave. I think the enhancements it brings are subtle, but good. I don’t think if they weren’t told that an average viewer would notice. But it added an aural texture that I appreciated, especially nice in the scene in the rain.

And another note… I’m a bit upset that the toys for the movie give away the major plot points. I wish I had stayed spoiler free, but I saw the toys at Target. Grr.

Casting Wonder Woman

My friend Stepheney and I were discussing The Avengers success. We both loved the movie. And apparently DC Comics is exploring a Justice League film to get a piece of the superhero team pie. They already have a successful Batman franchise, and they’re working on yet another Superman. Ryan Reynolds is signed on for more Green Lantern films, as far as I know. So that leaves Wonder Woman and some minor characters that need some tie-in films. I personally am hoping the Wonder Twins get a chance to activate.

Stepheney said she and her friends couldn’t come up with viable actresses who could do a good job with Wonder Woman, so I wanted to do some dream casting. I’ve heard Olivia Wilde suggested, but I don’t think she has the right look. I’ve also heard fanboys squee for Olivia Munn in the role. I’ve never seen her act, though. So let’s skip the Olivias.

Here are my suggestions… Let me know what you think in the comments! Continue reading

Movie Remakes I’d Like To See

At a basic level, I’m not a fan of movie remakes. It is quite rare that the remake is better than the original. However, sometimes a movie exists beyond the film itself as an Idea, in the Platonic allegory of the cave sense. In that way, even the original movie is but a shadow of the ideal. And in those cases, I believe remakes could be justified, because they give us a glimpse of what could lie beyond the mouth of the cave.

Did I lose you? Sorry. On with the movie remakes!

Cannonball Run

Ok, maybe this wouldn’t be a remake. You could call it a sequel or a reboot of the franchise.

The original Cannonball Run came out in 1981 and had a sequel in 1984. It featured Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise, Farrah Fawcett, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., and many many more celebrities. A young Jackie Chan was even in it in a small role.

This type of comedic action movie would do really well in the theaters. Think Fast and the Furious, but with comedy replacing all the bad acting and melodrama. Who wouldn’t love a cross country race full of famous faces, as stars or cameos?

I would bring Burt Reynolds back for the remake, maybe as the race organizer. With him, I’d bring in Dom DeLuise’s three kids. David DeLuise is pretty well known amongst the teens and tweens from his role as the dad on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place. He could even take up the mantle of Captain Chaos. Michael and Peter have also been pretty active acting and directing. Bring in some NASCAR drivers, and a bunch of current celebs, and it should be an instant hit.

Of course, we could also go ahead with remakes of Smokey and the Bandit and Stroker Ace, too…

The Goonies

I’m sure a remake of this would be controversial. The original holds it own. So maybe this should also be a sequel. I’ve heard it suggested that this could be the adventures of the kids of the original characters. I think that would be great. Would One Eyed Willie only have had one place to hide his treasure? Where did the Inferno end up after it sailed out of the cave? Or maybe this is could be a prequel – how did the map come to be in the attic? It could even be a period pirate film – Mikey calls him “the first Goonie.” There’s your title right there.

The film would need to stand on its own for the current generation, but still have nostalgic touches for the parents (like me) of the current generation.

The Black Hole

There was a rumor that Disney was remaking this, but I haven’t heard anything recently. I remember this movie fondly from my childhood, but tried to watch it with my son and we couldn’t get through it. I think this film really ends where it should have begun… entering a black hole and encountering… well, let’s just say weird stuff. But the mix of cute robots, even robots, a girl with ESP, and space can be the setup for a much better film. Let’s have them deal with the Cygnus villains in the first act of the movie, entering the black hole in the second act, and leave the third act for exploring the other side. There’s franchise potential there for sequels if it does well.

Mr. Mom

Michael Keaton was great in Mr. Mom. With the economy being the way it is now,  a remake of this film would really resonate. Just don’t let someone like Adam Sandler or Steve Carell ruin it. This needs to be cast against type, without someone known for slapstick. How about Joseph Gordon-Levitt? (I think Jason Segel would be great, though.)

So, readers, what do you think? Hate these ideas? Ready to get them made? Or do you have your own movies you’d like to see remade?