Showing posts with label movie reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movie reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--The Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Dawn Treader
PG 1 hour 53 min. 2010

With their spoiled cousin, Eustace, Lucy and Edmund take an unexpected trip back to Narnia and join noble King Caspian for an epic high-seas adventure. Setting sail aboard the Dawn Treader, the young heroes head for the end of the world, determined to rescue seven once-powerful lords banished by Caspian's evil uncle.

Based on the series by C. S. Lewis, you know the symbolism abounds. I'm always amazed at what these kids can accomplish against enormous odds. Eustace comes away learning some life lessons as well. Awesome family movie, but it should be discussed. Find out what your kids think about it. See if they pick up any of the symbolism. Often times, my kids pick up much more than I do, or they see it in an entirely different way.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--The Conspirator

The Conspirator  Rated PG-13  2 hours 2 min  2010

Robert Redford directed and produced this historical drama that follows the efforts of a young lawyer, Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy), who was a northern civil war hero, as he defends Mary Surratt (Robin Wright), a confederated sympathizer accused of conspiring to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln.

Realizing that Surratt may in fact be innocent, Aiken defies public opinion and risks everything to get her acquitted.

Such a poignant and incredibly dramatic film. The makers of this movie claim to have gone to great lengths to make this film as historically accurate as possible down to the smallest details. I believe it. I felt like I was in the middle of it. I could understand the pain of a nation losing a truly good man in the President of the United States, and the need of some to obtain retribution at the risk of slaying justice. The politics of the situation are swirling around you in every aspect, the traditions of the day where Mary Surratt was not allowed to testify in her own defense, to the effects on the career of this young attorney. It was political suicide to defend her. Aiken not only risked his career but he risked the love of his girlfriend.

Mary Surratt owned the boarding house where John Wilkes Booth stayed and where he and other men planned three attacks in concert. Aiken is reluctant to defend the only women accused at first until he realizes that she is a pawn, bait to draw out her son, who is the only accused to escape capture. She refuses to betray her son although he does not do as much for her.

The tension and feelings of a post-civil war portrayed here reminded me a lot of the type of fervor experienced after 9/11. It is only natural to seek for justice and retribution. It is easy to see how those desires for justice can quickly turn into a witch hunt. It is a good reminder for us to take a step back before we make justice the next casualty of offense.

I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Thursday Media Review--A Simple Twist of Fate

A Simple Twist of Fate  rated PG-13 1 hour 46 min 1994

Michael McCann, played by Steve Martin feels totally betrayed by the world after his wife reveals that he's not the father of their unborn child. Five years later we find him living alone in a small town. He becomes miserly and reclusive. He works at home building furniture. Everything changes when he adopts a little girl whose mother died outside, in front of his house.

This movie is very touching with a pinch of melancholy. I worried that something bad was just about to happen all throughout the story. It is a heart-warming tale produced by Steve Martin, definitely worth your time.

A Simple Twist of Fate is based on the novel Silas Marner by George Eliot, screenplay written and produced by Steve Martin. We even see him play the banjo in this movie. I tend to overlook the many talents of Steve Martin. I give it 4 out of 5 stars for a job well done.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Movie Review--Super 8

Super 8     1 hour 52 minutes      released 2011       rated PG-13

For four months Joe copes with the physical loss of his mother and the emotional distance of his father, the deputy of a small town. His friends decide to enter a movie-making contest with a Super 8 camera.

While shooting the movie, Joe and his friends witness something incredible. 25-year-old secrets begin to unfold causing events to quickly spiral out of control.

The story seems almost autobiographical the way it drew me in. J. J. Abrams does a masterful job of building the suspense slowly against the backdrop of a race for survival.

I was surprised at how much I liked this movie. It's a coming of age tale for Joe, his father, and his friends. I'd give it 3.5 stars out of 5. It's definitely worth a look-see.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite Christmas Movies

 I love family-friendly Christmas movies. I especially love the LDS Church's Christmas videos depicting our Savior's birth. They went to great lengths to make them with as much historical accuracy as possible.

This is a list of fun movies I enjoy watching every year.
Counting down from #10-Ernest Saves Christmas--I know, corny, but Ernest embodies the child-like faith and joy of the season.
#9-Yes Virginia, There is a Santa Claus with Richard Thomas.
#8-The Story Lady with Jessica Tandy.
#7-Home Alone and Home Alone 2.
#6-The Santa Clause 1, 2, and 3.
#5-Holiday Inn and White Christmas.
#4-The Bishop's Wife with Cary Grant and Loretta Young.
#3-The Polar Express.
#2-A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott, of course there's zillions of different versions out there. This one is my favorite.
And #1 is It's A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.

You may be thinking that's cliche, but I don't care. I fell in love with this movie as a sophomore at BYU. I took the film class thinking it was a cake class but ended up learning something. I had never seen nor heard of this movie before. What a delight, but then, who doesn't love Jimmy Stewart? I'll be a fan until the day I die, George Bailey.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday Movie Reviews--Favorite Series

National Treasure   rated PG-13I

I love history. Even more, I love history and intrigue. I love that the main characters have to know things to figure out the clues.

This series has it all--mystery and suspense, spies and secret codes, romance, chase scenes, treasure, and lots of history. I love movies that teach me about history.

This is a fun romp of a history lesson. It makes me wonder how much of it is true, and that's exactly what historical fiction is supposed to do.


Pirates of the Carribean   rated PG-13

Who doesn't love a good pirate movie? High adventure, treasure, romance, scalliwags, old english/piratese, sword fights, and one of the best soundtracks out there.

Just hearing the music makes me want to swashbuckle.

I'm not as crazy about 2 and 3 as I am about the first movie of the series, but movie 4 restores the general theme of the Pirates.

Lord of the Rings   rated PG-13

Talk about epics. Rarely has a movie been made of this caliber. The imagination of the author and the movie makers completely overwhelmed me. How did they accomplish such a feeling of the ethereal? The music and the art that flowed through the entire series made me feel as if I belonged in that world.

I learned the value of persistence and loyalty by watching the characters struggle through one adventure after another. And persistence, loyalty, and sacrifice will win out over evil, not brute force, but quiet, simple, perseverance.

The battle between good and evil effects us all.

Harry Potter   rated PG-13

The only people I know who don't like Harry Potter are those who haven't read the books or seen the movies. There aren't many but they do exist. They're also the only ones who don't know what muggles are.

This series of YA books single handedly brought a revolution to the book industry. All of a sudden kids loved to read. It became cool to read. People of all ages became engrossed in a YA genre. J.K. Rowling set the reading world on its ear.

The perennial fight of good versus evil is set in a contemporary world much like our own. Both worlds overlap upon occasion.

It is a coming of age story with adventure and obstacles, frights, loyalty, heros, self-sacrifce, friendship, wit and wisdom.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday Movie Review--More Halloween Favorites

To Catch a Thief  starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly

Cary Grant plays retired jewel thief, John Robie, nicknamed "The Cat." He leads a quiet life now, tending his vineyards in the French Riviera. A series of robberies that take place copy cats his m.o. and makes the French Police believe he is out of retirement.

Robie is able to give the police the slip with the help of some old friends. His plan is to prove his innocence by catching the new cat burglar in the act. He enlists the aid of an insurance adjustor who reluctantly gives Robie a list of the most expensive jewels currently on the Riviera. Jessie Stevens and her daughter, Francie (played by Grace Kelly), are the first on the list. Robie strikes up an acquaintance with the two.

Robie and Francie fall for each other. After a night of passion, Jessie's jewels are stolen and Francie thinks Robie took advantage. Robie has to go back on the lam. He stakes out a rooftop to catch the new burglar, a burglar who rivals him in cleverness and agility.

This is a clever suspense that kept me guessing until the end. I enjoy gathering clues and trying to figure it out. Of course, if I figure it out, I say it was predictable. This movie did a good job leading me down one path only to find out the truth at the end.

Arsenic and Old Lace  starring Cary Grant

Mortimer Brewster, played by Cary Grant, has written several books describing marriage as an old-fashioned superstition. He falls in love with Elaine, the girl next door. They marry on Halloween. Immediately after the wedding Mortimer returns to his old family home to visit the elderly, eccentric relatives who raised him, two lovable aunts, Abby and Martha, and their brother, Teddy (who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt).

Mortimer finds a corpse hidden in a window seat and assumes Teddy committed murder while delusional, but the aunts explain they are responsible--"It's one of our charities." They explain, most innocently, that they have developed the very bad habit of ending the suffering of lonely old bachelors by serving them elderberry wine spiked with arsenic, strychnine, and "just a pinch of cyanide." The bodies are buried in the basement by Teddy, who believes he is burying yellow fever victims in the locks of the Panama Canal. Complications set in when another Brewster brother returns home with a corpse of his own to hide.

 Macabre humor and suspense play against each other overlapping action and clever dialogue. Pay close attention or you may miss a quick joke. I couldn't help but laugh and yell, "watch out", at the same time. By the end of the movie I was out of breath.

Charade  starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn

Regina Lambert (Hepburn) meets a charming stranger, Peter Joshua (Grant) on a skiing holiday. She returns to Paris to ask her husband, Charles for a divorce. When she arrives home all of her possessions are gone. Her luxurious home is completely stripped and her husband is missing. The police notify her that Charles had been thrown from a moving train--murdered. They give her his travel bag.

At Charles's funeral, Regina notices three odd visitors who do things to Charles to verify he is dead.

Later, Regina is summoned to the U.S. Embassy where she meets CIA administrator, Hamilton Bartholmew (Walter Matthau). He informs Regina that Charles was involved in a theft during WWII--$250,000.00 in gold. Charles and a group of OSS were to deliver the gold the French Resistance. They buried it and then ambushed by a German patrol. One of the OSS men was left to die. Charles double crossed the rest of the group and went back for the gold. The U.s. government wants the money back. Bartholomew insists Regina has the money, even if she doesn't know it.

Peter offers to help Regina. While he admits to being after the money as well, he is actually in league with the OSS group under a pseudonym of Alexander Dyle, brother of the man left to die. None of the men trust each other and they begin turning up dead.

Who can Regina trust? With so many plot twists and turns, I felt like I was on a crazy roller coaster ride. This movie kept me guessing to the very end.


North by Northwest  starring Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint

Cary Grant plays an advertising executive by the name of Roger Thornhill, who, by chance, suffers a case of mistake identity. He gets kidnapped and taken to the home of a United Nations delegate by the name of Lester Townsend. Thornhill is interrogated by a man he assumes is Townsend (actually a foreign spy named Vandamm), where he repeatedly denies he is George Kaplan.

Vandamm orders Thornhill's disposal. The thugs attempt to stage a fatal car accident, only Thornhill gets away to be arrested later for drunk driving. Unable to get anyone to believe him he decides to do some of his own investigating.

He goes to Kaplan's hotel room where he answers the phone. Of course, the bad guys are convinced he is Kaplan. Narrowly avoiding recapture Thornhill takes a taxi to the General Assembly building of the United Nations where Townsend is due to deliver a speech. He meets Townsend face to face and surprised to find that he is not the man who interrogated him. Before Thornhill can get any more answers, one of the thugs throws a knife, sticking Townsend in the back and he dies in Thornhill's arms. Without thinking, Thornhill removes the knife, making it appear as if he is the killer. He goes on the run again.

This movies chases all over the eastern half of the United States with one of the most unique chase scenes ever filmed--across the faces of Mount Rushmore. Alfred Hitchcock was a master of nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat suspense. Every time I watch this movie I wonder how is Cary Grant going to make it out this mess?

Wait Until Dark  starring Audrey Hepburn

Montreal--a woman named Lisa watches an old man sew bags of heroin in the cloth body of an old-fashioned doll. A man watches her as she leaves the apartment. Lisa takes the doll with her on a flight to New York.

When she disembarks she gives the doll to a man she met on the plane for safe keeping. He is a professional photographer named Sam Hendrix. Sam lives in a basement apartment with his wife, Susy, who was recently blinded in a car accident. Lisa calls Sam asking for the doll back, but he's unable to find it.

Later, a couple of con men watch Sam's apartment until Sam and Susy leave. The con men are supposed to meet Lisa at the apartment, instead they are met by the man who was watching Lisa, Harry Roat. None of them find the doll but the two con men discover Lisa's body hanging in a garment bag. Since the only fingerprints in the apartment belong to the con men, Roat blackmails them into getting rid of Lisa'a body and helping him find the doll.

So the bad guys leave to dispose of the body. In the meantime Susy returns home none-the-wiser. Her neighbors leave for the weekend, and Sam leaves the next morning for a business trip--the first time Susy has been left alone since her accident. She's still learning to navigate her new world of darkness.

Once she is alone the three bad guys start working on her in order to gain entry into the apartment. They pose as different people. They tell her a story that makes her think Sam is involved with Lisa's murder and persuade her to help them find the doll. Susy becomes suspicious.

Gloria, a neighbor girl who the Hendrix's pay to run errands for Susy has a bad habit of going in and out of Susy's apartment without Susy knowing she's there. Gloria sneaks into the apartment with the doll she stole some time earlier. Susy discovers the doll.

The suspense builds gradually as Susy becomes aware that these men are not who they say. I am always amazed at her resourcefulness for being someone still learning how to cope with her disability. She thinks through problems quickly instead of feeling sorry for herself.

The movie is full of awesome fright moments that catch you off guard. One of my favorite things to do is to watch this in the dark, and wait for the right moment to grab one of my kids and scream.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday Movie Review--My Top 4 Favorite Halloween Movies

 There are a million and one Halloween movies out there from Disney to slashers. These are my favorite four movies. I get them out every year at this time and watch them again.

 #4   The Man Who Knew Too Little      rated PG  1997  94 min.
Bill Murray plays Wallace Ritchie, a naive American visiting his brother in London.

He thinks that everything happening around him is part of an audience-participation dinner theatre. Not knowing the danger he is really in, he plays the cool, collected, super spy who holds the fate of the cold war in his hands.

It is rated PG for language, adult themes, and a little bit of scary. This is the type of movie where the ridiculous happens but you laugh yourself silly anyway. 


#3  Hocus Pocus     rated PG   1993   96 min.

Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker star as three 17th century Salem witches brought back from the dead by an ancient spell unwittingly conjured by a boy named Max, who is trying to impress a girl.

Max and his friends have to find a way to reverse the curse and send the witches back before the three lovelies curse the town and steal the youth of all of Salem's children.

This is a fun Halloween movie with great music but may be too scary for small children.

#2   The Burbs   rated PG   1989   102 min.

Tom Hanks plays average, suburbanite Ray Peterson who starts a week of vacation at home. 

But when Ray and two of his buddies notice the strange goings-on of the creepy, next-door neighbors, his vacation is anything but restful. When one of their other neighbors goes missing, the three buddies make plans to investigate. 

Each of the characters in this cul-de-sac have their own humorous quirks and provide slapstick comedy against a backdrop of creepy suspense.

This is a fun, fun movie--a must see for Halloween!

My all-time favorite scary movie to watch at Halloween is . . .
What Lies Beneath   rated PG-13   2000   130 min.

Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer play a happily married couple who renovate their dream home at the lake. Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) begins seeing ghostly images and mysterious voices. She is certain that all is not well with the new neighbors next door.

After some surprising twists and turns, Claire and her husband eventually get to the bottom of it all.

The suspense in this movie is so well done. It is the most intense thriller/mystery since Alfred Hitchcock. It comes with several good fright moments that knocked my socks off. If you're prone to nightmares, do not watch this movie in the dark. My neighbor across the street watched this movie in the middle of the afternoon, with all of her curtains open and lights on, and still could not get through it. But if you like a good scare, this is a classic. There is blood but not the gore of a slasher movie.