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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Movie Review of Miss Potter

This movie was a simple delight. It provides a charming glimpse into the life of Beatrix Potter, children's author and illustrator.

Miss Potter was born to a family of privilege which meant she, and her brother Bertram, were raised by nannies. They were left to entertain themselves a good deal of the time.

They chased bunnies in the garden at their summer home in the lake district. They watched birds, ducks, squirrels, frogs, hedgehogs, and mice.

Beatrix's father gave her a set of drawing pencils, and she began drawing the wildlife around her. They collected animals in cages so she could continue drawing. The animals became her only friends.

There are so many good things about this movie. One is that it is so visually pleasing as well as telling a delightful story. The lush English countryside rolls out before you like a blanket. I could easily see myself there at the Hilltop Farm. Another visual treat is Beatrix's drawings come to life on the page with some unexpected animation. We get to see her drawings just the way she saw them.

This is a wonderful family movie for older children. Younger children, and men, will most likely be bored. Still, I'd give it 4 stars.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mary Ann Reviews the movie The Book Thief

A lot of times I read the book before I see the movie, but not this time. I heard it was dark and depressing and wasn't sure if I could deal with the emotions. My husband rented the DVD and I watched with reservation.

Surprisingly, it was lighter than I thought. It still dealt with horrible war-time realities, but I felt hope from the main character.

I'd heard that the book was a little confusing in the beginning because it takes a while to figure out who the Narrator is. The movie helps clear that up faster.

Death narrates in the background as an observer. I'd never really considered Death to be an entity. It's just a fact of life--you're born, you live, you die, and move onto another realm or form of being.

Death is fascinated by one Liesel Meminger, a young girl who is forfeited by her single mother, a communist, to foster parents Hans and Rosa, an older, childless couple. Communists were widely persecuted and giving up children to foster parents was the safest thing her mother could've done for her.

It's not clear why Liesel hadn't learned to read up to that point, but Hans, the kindly foster father, teaches her when he learns about her behavior at school and what was at the root of her trouble.

She becomes obsessed with reading everything she can find and adds to her vocabulary list on the basement walls. She finds a friend in the Mayor's wife and they share their love of books.

In spite of all of the death and dying around her, Liesel becomes the one person to make Death wonder what it would be like to live.

All of the actors and actresses deliver amazing performances.

I found this a very uplifting movie and would be great for families with older children. I give it 4.5 stars.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mary Ann's Movie Review of Austenland

Austenland Rated PG-13

Screenplay by Shannon Hale and Jerusha Hess
Directed by Jerusha Hess
Produced by Stephanie Meyer

A sweet story of a 30 year old Jane Hayes who adores Colin Firth's version of Mr. Darcy. Her life is consumed by it, as evidenced by her bedroom.

None of the men she has met to this point can live up to her Mr. Darcy expectations.

She spends her life savings on a trip to Austenland (The Copper Package). This is one of the changes from the book, which is ok.

When she arrives, she becomes more like one of Austen's heroines than she planned--due to the "Copper Package" versus the "Platinum Package." She gets the uninspiring last name, cast-off clothes, the hired hand, and the lectures--a great modern-day view of the class system.

After living the dream for a while Jane becomes confused between reality and make believe. Of course she would, so I would I. I think Jane has always been confused on this point, and it brings her, finally, to the point of questioning.

There were so many humorous subtleties, I may have to watch this over and over again. My favorite part is when Miss Charming (played by Jennifer Coolidge) embroiders her lacey glove into her sampler. I busted up. Comedic genius!

This is a fun, clean movie for all Austen fans. I even caught my husband laughing. I give it ****1/2 stars.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Movie Review of Dolphin Tale by Mary Ann

Dolphin Tale
A great Family Movie

Sawyer Nelson is an 11-year-old boy who struggles with the loss of his father through divorce, his mother to her job, and an older cousin he greatly admires, to the military. He also struggles with school, so much so that his mom decides he needs to attend summer school.

One morning, while biking to school along the beach, a fisherman flags him down to help him untangle a dolphin caught in a crab trap. Sawyer cuts away the lines and they call Animal Control which sends out the crew from The Clearwater Marine Hospital.

Sawyer decides to visit the hospital to find out more about the dolphin's fate. Friendships ensue. The doctor of the clinic (played by Harry Connick Jr.) notices that the dolphin (Winter) responds positively to Sawyer. They developed a bond while on the beach. Sawyer continues to visit the hospital daily. He begins to study about dolphins. He becomes excited about learning. His mother notices a big difference in his attitude.

As the story progresses, so do the problems. Sawyer develops problem solving skills that summer school could not have taught him.

This is a great family movie that teaches so many life lessons on several levels. I've watched this movie a few times and I pick up a new lesson each time; strength, courage, compassion, sacrifice, and determination to name a few.

Sawyer's mom (played by Ashley Judd) is a great example of a mom who allows her son to pursue his passion when she recognizes his growth, instead of trying to make him do things her way.

The most important lesson learned is what happens when Sawyer places the needs of Winter ahead of his own needs.

Even more importantly, this movie is based on real-life events. We need more uplifting movies like this that show outstanding examples from all of the cast. Morgan Freeman has always been a favorite of mine. Ashley Judd and Harry Connick Jr. are wonderful, but the characters that steal the show are Winter, Sawyer, and Hazel.

Definitely a ***** family movie.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--The Odd Life of Timothy Green

The Odd Life of Timothy Green  by Disney Rated PG  It's a fantasy.

This is a bittersweet story of a young couple, played by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton. Unable to have children of their own, they write out all of the talents and attributes they want in a child. They carefully place all of their hopes in a wooden box and bury it in their garden.

A ten-year-old boy (CJ Adams) comes to them "home grown" and changes their lives forever. He manages to change the lives of everyone in their small hometown.

This movie is filled with love, life lessons, and tender moments. Take a box of tissue with you when you see it. It is a very enjoyable, and worthwhile family movie.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris PG 13 directed by Woody Allen

A charming story of a writer, Gil Bender (Owen Wilson) who dreams about the "golden age of Paris". Re-thinking the course his life is taking leads Gil to walk the magical streets of Paris at night. 

When the Cathedral's clock strikes 12 midnight, he finds himself taken back to the Paris of the 1920's. He meets some of his favorite authors--F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and artists Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

It reminds me of a coming of age tale where the main character gets the chance to examine his life before it's too late. Gil learns something from a beautiful woman he meets in 1920. Her idea of the "golden age of Paris" was the 1890's. When the two of them get to the 1890's they meet men who think the "golden age of Paris was thirty years before that.

Have you ever caught yourself thinking, "If only I'd lived back then?" This is a wonderful movie for anyone who loves to live in the past--like me.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--Brave

I have to say that I loved the soundtrack and the scenery of the 10th century Scottish Highlands. The animation made me feel as if I was surrounded by forests, cliffs, and the ocean.

I loved the character voices. I could've listened to their accents all day. Kelly MacDonald was Princess Merida, Emma Thompson was her mother, Queen Elinor, and Billy Connolly was her father, King Fergus. Other talents include Robbie Coltrane, Craig Ferguson and John Ratzenberger (they can't do one without him).

I loved the female heroine, Princess Merida. She's beautiful, tough and a cunning archer. I also enjoyed the mystical magic of the will o' the wisps.

But. . . the plot fell. To me it was Little Mermaid recycled. What a shame to waste all of that beautiful imagery and animation on a not-so-original story.

The thing that bothered me the most, however, was not the plot, nor the cruder-than-usual humor, but the scene where King Fergus and his cronies climb down from the tower using their pants tied together for a rope. The next thing you see are a bunch of naked butts running.

Yes, I realize this was only an animation, but it is not the sort of thing I want my grandkids to see and get the idea that it's funny or okay to do that.

I have always felt safe taking my kids and grandkids to Disney/Pixar movies. I hold them to a higher standard and they let me down.

Part of it was my fault. I assumed it was rated G, like most Disney/Pixar movies (the only exception is The Incredibles, probably for violence). Brave is rated PG. Next time I'll pay more attention to the rating.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 2011 rated PG-13 129 min

From the jacket:
Believing that his father left him a message before dying in the 9/11 attacks, young Oskar Schell embarks on an emotional odyssey through New York City to find the lock that matches a key he finds among his father's belongings.

We watch Oskar work through relationships with his mother and grandfather as he struggles through the grieving process. He feels entirely alone. With the exception of his father, Oskar's absolutely convinced that no one else in the entire world thinks like he does. Now that his father is gone, no one understands him. Only his grandmother comes close.

We are shown the varied effects of loss, coupled with the burden of guilt on each member of Oskar's family. I became emotionally invested in their lives. I missed Oskar's father, even though we are only exposed to him through flashbacks. What a great father, what a tragic loss.

This movie is very touching and emotionally draining. I think the content would be too difficult and confusing for smaller children, but teen-agers could handle it. Another wonderful Tom Hanks movie. I think everything that man touches turns to gold.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--War Horse

War Horse   rated PG-13  146 minutes
directed by Steven Spielberg

Set in Dartmoor England 1914, it is the story of the strength and courage of a horse named Joey and his best friend Albert.

From the cover--To his wife's dismay Farmer Narracott buys a thoroughbred horse instead of a plow horse. Narracott's teen-aged son, Albert trains the horse to take a plow and earn his keep. The two become inseparable in their hearts.

When their crop fails, Narracott sells the horse to the British Cavalry. As Albert says goodbye to Joey, he promises him that he will someday find him again.

It is a very touching story with beautiful cinematography, but many scenes are difficult to watch--the realities of war are a little too real. I would not recommend this movie for small children. However, many lessons are taught throughout the story--courage, loyalty, determination, endurance, and the importance of all who enter our lives at different times and seasons.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--The Three Musketeers (2011)

The Three Musketeers (2011)

Generally speaking, I prefer to post positive reviews. In this case, I feel a moral obligation to warn those of you who haven't yet seen it to not waste your time or money.

How could you possibly go wrong with a timeless classic?

First, never make up your mind about the direction the screenplay should take, follow the classic story line or be a spoof. All the script accomplished was an attempt at spoof where it ripped off other movies. It tried to pull off something like A Knight's Tale, but fell flat on lame anachronisms.

The writers ripped off, almost word for word, classic lines from other versions of the musketeers, and The Princess Bride.

I kept asking myself, "How did this get funding for production?" My bet is the names they brought in, names like Orlando bloom and Matthew MacFadyen, actors who did the best they could with a script far beneath their abilities.

So save yourself some time, money and disappointment. This one's a turkey.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Movie Review--The Adventures of Tintin

The Adventures of Tintin  rated PG 2011  1 hour 47 minutes

From the jacket: Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson team up for this 3-D motion capture adaptation of Georges Remi's classic comic strip, centered around the adventures of a fearless, young journalist Tintin and his trusty dog, Snowy.
Featuring the voice talents of Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Andy Serkis, Nick Frost, Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook, and Cary Elwes.

It's an action-packed, fun adventure for the whole family. It's set in the 30s and 40s. The comic strip was a little before my time but I really loved the film version--very reminiscent of Indiana Jones, with plenty of room for more episodes, definitely lots of fun. Snowy totally steals the show and my heart.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Movie Review--Dreamer

Dreamer  Rated PG 2005  1 hour 46 minutes

Dreamer is loosely based on actual events. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. It is a wonderful movie the whole family can enjoy. It is a good movie to teach determination and perseverance, love, and belief in yourself and your dreams.

From the jacket: Down-and-out horse trainer (Kurt Russell) gets an equally broken-down (but once great) racehorse as severance pay. But it will take the unwavering faith of his daughter (Dakota Fanning) to bring the two damaged souls together in a quest to win the Breeders' Cup Classic.

I'm a big fan of Dakota Fanning. Her character brings life to this story. She helps more than two damaged souls and herself in the process. I found it very uplifting and definitely worthwhile. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--An Unfinished Life

An Unfinished Life  Rated PG-13  2005 1 hr 48 m

The movie opens just after Jean Gilkyson (played by Jennifer Lopez) receives a beating at the hands of her boyfriend. When he leaves the house, Jean's daughter, Griff, convinces her that enough is enough. They pack up and leave right then.

They journey back to Jean's hometown in Wyoming, to the ranch of Jean's father-in-law, the grandfather Griff didn't know she had, Einar Gilkyson (played by Robert Redford).

Einar still blames Jean for the accidental death of his son, Griffin. You'll see how ironic this becomes when the rest of Einar's secrets are revealed.

When I first saw Griffin's grave marker, with the inscription, an unfinished life, I assumed the title referred to Griffin's life being cut short, but I soon learned it refers to everyone but Griffin. The one exception is Morgan Freeman's character. He has learned to forgive, but he has demons of his own to face.

This is an excellent family movie, very poignant. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Movie Review--Season of the Witch

Season of the Witch  PG-13 2011 1 hour 53 min

In 14th century Europe, a courageous knight (Nicholas Cage) leads a group of weary warriors across impossibly treacherous terrain in order to transport a suspected witch believed to be responsible for spreading the devastating Black Plague.

I was intrigued with the setting, the wardrobe, the historical features--it was all done very well. I had the feeling of being there with them. They had me right up to the end. Is she or isn't she a witch?

Then, the ulimate battle of good versus evil at the end left me feeling cheated because it was so hokey. I won't spoil the ending, the producers/directors did that. And, with all of the really excellent things out there to watch, you really don't need to waste your time with this one.

I'd give it 1 1/2 stars.

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.