Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Lucy
Lowest Recommended Age: High School
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong violence, disturbing images, and sexuality
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Noah
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

And So It Goes
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for some sexual references and drug elements
Release Date:
July 25, 2014

 

Sabotage
Lowest Recommended Age: Adult
MPAA Rating:
Rated R For strong bloody violence, pervasive language, some sexuality/nudity and drug use
Release Date:
March 28, 2014

Wish I Was Here
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for language and some sexual content
Release Date:
July 18, 2014

 

Transcendence
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and violence, some bloody images, brief strong language and sensuality
Release Date:
April 19, 2014

Pokemon 2000: The Movie

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Preschool
Movie Release Date:2000

It’s better than the first one. That isn’t saying much, especially since the prime audience for this film doesn’t really care much about niceties like character, dialogue, or quality of animation. If you’ve got a little Pokemon fanatic in your family, you’re going to this movie, whether it is any good or not.

And it’s not, by any adult standards. But there are a few moments of interesting animation and what passes for a plot is a bit more coherent than it was in the first one. A bad guy (we can tell he is a bad guy because he has an English accent and because he is a Pokemon COLLECTOR not a Pokemon TRAINER) plans to disrupt the “harmony of fire, ice, and lightning” by capturing the birds that control these elements of nature. Once that harmony is disrupted, he will unleash the monster currents of the ocean, and that will enable him to capture the ultimate treasure, Lugia, for his collection.

Meanwhile, champion Pokemon trainer Ash and his friends arrive on an island just in time for the annual re-enactment of an ancient legend. The girl selected to be the star of the re-enactment calls it “dorky” and thinks it is all a little silly. But then she realizes that it is more than a legend, and that by paying careful attention to the words and music of the old ceremony, she will have the key to restoring the balance of nature, protecting Lugia, and preventing catastrophic weather conditions that could wipe out all living things. According to the legend, “the world will turn to Ash” if the harmony of nature is disturbed. And Ash needs help from everyone, even the usually dastardly Team Rocket, to save the day.

As in the first movie, there is also a short film at the beginning, “Pokemon’s Rescue Adventure,” featuring the Pokemons on a human-free, and almost dialogue-free frolic. Pokemon fans will enjoy the line-up of favorite characters, and may even learn something about loyalty and teamwork.

As I have noted before, anyone who has ever seen the TV series, played the game, or bought the cards knows what to expect here. Every generation of children has some hideously annoying cartoon series to provide parents with much agonizing and many, many buying opportunities. The characters usually undergo some transformation or make use of a secret to attain power. This theme is endlessly interesting to kids who can feel overwhelmed by a world built on a scale that is often too large for them.

Kids, especially those ages 6-10, also love to memorize and sort endless facts, whether about Pokemons, dinosaurs, cars, or Beanie Babies. It gives them a sense of mastery, especially because they can do so much better than adults. And it becomes an important part of their social development, creating a shared language with their friends. This can be particularly meaningful for kids who are insecure about talking to other children.

Still, excruciating as it can be for parents to endure, it may be worthwhile for kids to see the movie. If it makes it any easier, remember that before too long, this will be over and by the time the next one comes along your children will be past that stage.

Parents should know that the movie features a lot of cartoon-style action, with characters in peril, but no one gets hurt. Like Harry Potter, Ash and Misty are at a point where there are some uncomfortable boy-girl feelings. When Misty is accused of being Ash’s girlfriend, she bristles. But she does not allow the fear of acting like a girlfriend prevent her from acting like a friend, and her special water skills turn out to be just what Ash needs. There is also some mild potty humor.

Families who watch this movie should talk about the importance of loyalty and teamwork and how Ash sometimes feels that he is not up to the task (“Training Pokemons is tough enough, but saving the world is way too hard!”). Ask kids why Team Rocket decided to become good, and whether they think they will stay that way. Kids may also want to talk about how Ash’s mother feels. She is proud and scared at the same time when he is risking his life to save the world. She is sorry that his life as a Pokemon trainer takes him so far away from her, but when she tells him, “You’re my hero every day,” she lets him know that she is proud of him for who is is as well as for what he does.

Families who enjoy this movie will enjoy the first one, “Pokemon: The First Movie — Mewtwo Strikes Back.”

Planet of the Apes

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2001

lTim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” is less a remake than a re-imagining of the classic staring Charlton Heston. This version has no loincloth and no Statue of Liberty, and no Roddy McDowell, but Heston does show up for a surprisingly effective cameo — as one of the apes.

Mark Wahlberg plays Leo, an officer in the United States Air Force, working on a space station in 2029. An exploratory aircraft piloted by a monkey disappears into a mysterious electrical field. Against the orders of his commanding officer, Leo follows it to find out what happened. The storm hurtles him through time and space until he crashes on a planet where apes rule and humans are slaves. Ari (Helena Bonham Carter) helps Leo and some of the others escape to a forbidden city that will reveal some of the planet’s history. But General Thade (Tim Roth) and his army are in pursuit with orders to destroy them. As Burton promised in interviews, this version does not use the now-famous ending in the first film that showed them the planet they had landed on was Earth. This one ends with a twist that may even top it.

As in all of Burton’s movies, including “Beetlejuice” and “Edward Scissorhands,” the art direction is intricate, meticulous, and strangely beautiful. Every detail is a work of art, from the texture of the ape armor to the outline of the spaceship.

Wahlberg makes an appealing, all-American hero, though he is not up to the task of delivering a brief pep talk to the assembled humans. He is no Kenneth Branaugh in “Henry V.” He is not even Bill Pullman in “Independence Day.” But he is fine in the action scenes and he handles the challenge of kissing females of two different species with reasonable finesse. Overall, the simian performers are better and more believable than the humans. Bonham Carter makes a remarkably fetching ape, flirting through her bangs and using her eyes and body language to deliver a real performance. She has far more range of expression than Estella Warren (of “Driven”) as a feisty human in a costume that seems left over from Raquel Welch in “One Million B.C.” Roth is a seething presence as the bad guy, Michael Clarke Duncan gives physical and emotional weight to the role of the loyal officer, and Paul Giametti is hilarious as a slave trader held hostage.

Parents should know that the movie features intense and prolonged peril, a great deal of violence, and many deaths, including characters we care about. Characters are beaten and branded. There is a brief mild sexual situation and some strong language.

Families who see this movie should talk about the way that Burton makes unabashedly clear the parallels between the views of the apes toward humans and the views of racists and other bigots on Earth. Like those who have argued for segregation, apartheid, genocide, and “ethnic cleansing,” the apes find justification for their oppression of humans by insisting that humans are inferior creatures who have no souls or by demonizing them. The apes seem to have no problem with sub-species distinctions, and different kinds of apes work and socialize without any distinctions.

Families who enjoy this movie should see the original and some of its sequels to compare them. They, too, served as a metaphor for racial divides in an era in which it was much easier to put some of the dialogue about equal rights and revolution into the mouths of apes than people. They should also read Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, a stunning book about a wise ape who teaches his human pupil to think about the world in a completely different way. I promise, when you are done with the book, you will do the same.

Peter Pan

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
Movie Release Date:1953
DVD Release Date:February 4, 2013

Disney’s latest release is a beautiful Blu-Ray of one of its animated classics, the Disney version of the Victorian classic about the boy who would never grow up. Wendy, Michael, and John Darling, three London children, meet Peter Pan, a boy who can fly. He has been drawn to their warm, comfortable home, and to Wendy’s stories. He sprinkles them with fairy dust and they fly off past the “second star to the right,” where he lives in a magical place called Neverland. There they rescue an Indian princess, and fight pirates led by Captain Hook, before returning home to wave goodbye as Peter returns to Neverland without them.

The animation in this movie is as lively as its energetic hero. The scenes set in Victorian London are beautiful, and the shift in perspective as the children round Big Ben and fly off to Neverland is sublimely vertiginous.

Most children see Peter as that wonderful ideal, a child with the power to do whatever he pleases for as long as he pleases. The story does have moments that are whimsical but also very odd — the nanny is a dog, the crocodile that ate Captain Hook’s hand keeps following him for another taste, Peter loses his shadow, the Lost Boys have no parents, and unlike Peter, no special powers, fairy guardian, or unquenchable brio. Some children find this engaging, but a few find it troublesome, or worry about what happened to Peter’s parents and whether he will be all right without them. They may also be sad that the story ends with Peter bringing the Darling children home and then going back to Neverland without them.

Parents should know that the “What Makes the Red Man Red” song is embarrassingly racist and sexist. There is also a sexist overlay to the entire story, with Peter rapturously adored by all the females and at best indifferent in return. A best-selling pop psychology book of some years ago played off of this notion, theorizing that some men suffer from “The Peter Pan Syndrome” (fear of commitment), dividing women into two categories, mother-figure “Wendys” and playmate “Tinkerbells.” Tinkerbell, who is, of course, a fairy, is the only female in the story who is capable of much action other than nurturing, and she is petty and spiteful (though ultimately loyal). When he first meets Wendy, Peter says “Girls talk too much,” which one boy who watched with me thought was rapturously funny.

Families who watch this movie should talk about these questions: Have you ever thought that you didn’t want to grow up? Have you ever thought that you’d like to be a grown up right now? What would you do? Would you like to visit Neverland?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the many other versions of this popular story. Interestingly, this animated version was the first to feature a real boy (instead of a woman) in the title role. The Mary Martin version for television that parents of today’s kids may remember from their own childhoods is available on video, with Cyril Ritchard impeccable as Mr. Darling/Captain Hook, and a terrific score that includes “I’m Flying” and “Tender Shepherd.” A remake with Cathy Rigby as a very athletic Peter is also very good. Don’t waste your time on Steven Spielberg’s 1991 sequel, “Hook,” with Robin Williams as a grown- up Peter Pan who must go back to rescue his children from Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook with the help of Julia Roberts as Tinkerbell. The stars, the production design, and some spectacular special effects cannot make up for the incoherent joylessness of the script and genuinely disturbing moments like the death of one of the lost boys.

Pearl Harbor

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2001

Remember when Humphrey Bogart told Ingrid Bergman that “it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world?” Well, this is a story that comes down on the side of the hill of beans.

Although it tries mightily to follow the “Titanic” formula, “Pearl Harbor” is not going to inspire the same “let’s go see it again” spirit. Like “Titanic” (and “The Perfect Storm,” and “Twister,” and a zillion others), this movie attempts to tie a love story to a catastrophe, with the theory that if it can make us care, make us gasp, and make us cry, they’ll have a box-office bonanza. But both the love story and the war story have a synthetic feel to them that does not permit us to care enough. It’s worth seeing – but only once.

After a brief prologue, in which we meet the two male leads as young boys to see their passion for flying and their loyalty to each other, we open as the war is going on in Europe. America is sending equipment and supplies, but has not yet entered the war. The two boys, Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Hartnett) are army pilots. Anxious to get some action, Rafe volunteers to go to England, where he can join an American division of the RAF. Before he leaves, he meets a pretty nurse named Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) and they fall in love. He leaves for England, and Danny and Evelyn are assigned half a world away, to the Naval Station at Pearl Harbor. When Rafe is reported killed, Evelyn and Danny are devastated. They comfort each other, and become involved. Rafe arrives to find them together, just before the Japanese attack. That attack, lasting just about as long on screen as it did in reality, is devastating to the unprepared Naval Station and to a country that thought it could stay out of the war. But Rafe and Danny train for a counter-attack on Tokyo to send Japan a message that America can and will punish those who attack us.

Director Michael Bay (“Armageddon”) has visual flair and superb command of action sequences. There are some nice moments, like Evelyn’s arrival at the hospital in Pearl Harbor, rows of neat white beds with just one occupant, being treated for sunburn. Dan Ackroyd is fine as an intelligence officer and Jon Voight, somewhere under a lot of make-up, shows us FDR’s compassion, political skill, and intelligence. Affleck, Hartnett, and Beckinsale look gorgeous and do their best to give some depth to the cardboard characters, but they cannot overcome a soapy plot and dialogue that is often wooden and sometimes wildly anachronistic. I do not think that anyone in 1941 spoke of somone’s “having too much time on their hands.” And I am pretty sure that no one, seeing the bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor, concluded that “World War II has just started.” For one thing, the war in Europe had been going on for a while, and for another, they had not started calling “The Great War” “World War I” yet. Rafe writes a lot of letters for a guy who is dyslexic. And can we please, please agree never again to have one of those scenes where some hot-shot flyboys break the rules and are then called on the carpet by crusty commanders who come across all disciplinarian but call them son and thinly disguise the “that’s just how I used to behave” twinkle in their eyes? We know producer Jerry Bruckheimer had a hit with “Top Gun,” but he does not have to make this one into “Maverick and Goose Go to War.”

Like last year’s “The Patriot,” the movie fails to provide any sense of the reason for the conflict. When asked why he fights, a character says nothing about freedom or fighting the Nazis. He just says that he wants “to matter,” a disconcertingly me-oriented answer from a would-be representative of the greatest generation.

No one wants them to demonize the people we fought in World War II, but they go too far in the other direction. It’s almost as though they were more interested in selling tickets in Japan than in giving any substance to the story. Cuba Gooding, Jr. does his best with a part that is awkwardly inserted into the main storyline.

The movie bends over backwards to be fair to the Japanese, portraying them as brave and loyal. But it is also dismayingly US-centric, showing (inaccurately) both the English and the Japanese in awe of American spirit and strength. The Japanese general says that he fears they have “awakened the sleeping giant.” And Rafe’s British commander says that if other Americans are like Rafe, he feels sorry for anyone who goes to battle with the US.

Parents should know that the movie features extended and intense battle violence with thousands of casualties, including characters we care about. Soldiers use strong language and joke about seduction techniques. A couple decides not to have sex because they do not want to have any regrets. Another couple does have sex and the woman becomes pregnant. Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays a real-life hero of World War II, the first black man to win the Navy Cross. The woman may be there because they thought it would be exciting and they would meet men, but when they are needed, they are strong, brave, and dedicated.

Famiies who see this movie should talk about the events that led to World War II and about some of the real-life characters who are depicted. Make sure that they know that in 1941 the armed services were segregated. The character played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., Dorie Miller, like most other black soldiers, was not trained to fight and was assigned to cooking and menial jobs.

Characters in the movie face choices that are well worth family discussion. Why didn’t the US realize how vulnerable it was to attack? How do you decide which wounded to help? What should Evelyn have done when Rafe returned? Why did the pilots volunteer for the raid on Japan?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy other Michael Bay action spectaculars like “Armageddon” and “The Rock.” Fans of WWII movies will do better with “Saving Private Ryan,” “Mr. Roberts,” and “30 Seconds Over Tokyo,” with Spencer Tracy as the real-life James Doolittle, portrayed in “Pearl Harbor” by Alec Baldwin. Mature audiences will also appreciate “From Here to Eternity,” a brilliant movie about soldiers stationed at Pearl Harbor before the attack.

Previous Posts

Interview: Joseph Nasser of "Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway"
Reserve Police Officer Joseph Nasser produced Amber Alert: Terror on the Highway to help raise awareness of the Amber Alert system. It stars Tom Berenger as a man on the edge, making a dead rush for Mexico and kidnapping two young girls along the way. He is hotly pursued by police chief Martha Geig

posted 8:00:33am Jul. 28, 2014 | read full post »

"Guardian of the Galaxy's" Awesome Mixtape
One of the many pleasures of "Guardians of the Galaxy," opening this week, is the soundtrack featuring some 70's classics from an "Awesome Mixtape" played by Peter "Star Lord" Quill (Chris Pratt).  Here are some of the highlights. "Hooked on a Feeling" by Blue Swede [youtube]http://www.youtub

posted 8:00:21am Jul. 27, 2014 | read full post »

Comic-Con 2014: Day 2
Day 2 of Comic-Con included: an interview with "Sharknado" and "Sharknado 2" screenwriter Thunder Levin, a buggy lunch with Boxtrolls, press events with the directors and casts of four films, and appearing on the Rotten Tomatoes panel, where each attendee was given a paddle with a ripe tomato on on

posted 10:04:47pm Jul. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Thank You! This Site is 19 Years Old This Week!
It seems like yesterday, but it was 19 years ago this week that I first began writing reviews online as The Movie Mom®.  Anyone remember Prodigy?  The first appearance of my website was via the Sears-owned online service, so long ago it does not even turn up in Wayback searches.  At the time, we

posted 3:59:49pm Jul. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Dan Cohen of "Alive Inside"
Dan Cohen is the gifted and passionately committed man who transforms the lives of people with dementia and other severely debilitating diseases.  He is featured in the documentary "Alive Inside." He is the founder of Music and Memory, which provides resources to help bring these programs to peopl

posted 8:00:36am Jul. 26, 2014 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.