Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Miss You Like Crazy

Cast: John Lloyd Cruz, Bea Alonzo, Maricar Reyes, Noel Trinidad, Tirso Cruz III; Director: Cathy Garcia-Molina; Producer/ Distributor: Star Cinema ; Running Time:125 minutes; Location: Manila, Malaysia; Genre: Drama, Romance

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
Rating: For viewers ages 14 and above

Si Allan (John Lloyd Cruz) ay nagta-trabaho bilang account executive sa isang bangko na pag-aari ng mga magulang ng kasintahan niyang si Daphne (Maricar Reyes). Sa kabila ng pagkakaroon ng halos lahat ng bagay sa buhay, tila may hinahanap-hanap pa rin siya. Magbabago ang lahat nang makilala niya si Mia (Bea Alonzo) sa isang kakatwang eksena sa Pasig Ferry. Sapagkat simple at masayahin si Mia, pawang may kakaiba agad na mararamdaman si Allan dito. Isang araw ay muling magku-krus ang kanilang landas at sila ay magkakausap at magkakasama nang matagal. Lalong mahuhulog ang loob nila sa isa’t-isa. Ngunit mayroong problema sa parte ni Allan, hindi magawang iwan ni Allan si Daphne dahil kaakibat rin nito ang pagtalikod sa magandang buhay na kanyang matagal na pinagsumikapan at pinangarap. Nang hindi piliin ni Allan si Mia, ay bumalik ang huli sa Malaysia kung saan siya nagtatrabaho bilang hotel receptionist. Makalipas ang ilang taon ay hahanapin at susundan ni Allan si Mia sa Malaysia ngunit si Mia ay may iba ng mahal at malapit na ring ikasal sa isang Malay. Magkatuluyan pa kaya silang dalawa?

Maganda ang daloy ng kuwento ng Miss You Like Crazy. Kahit pa sabihing alam na ng manonood ang kahahantungan ng kuwento, nagawa pa rin nitong papaniwaling ilihis sa inaasahan at pahirapan ang dalawang pangunahing tauhan na magkatuluyan. Iyon nga lang, sadyang may mga elemento sa pelikula na nagbibgay-dahilan para asahan na nang manonood ang katapusan nito. Sa kabila pa rin nito’y matagumpay ang pelikula sa pagbibigay ng bagong-bihis sa isang kuwentong pag-ibig ng dalawang taong nagkahiwalay, kapwa nabigo at kapwa nahirapan sa pagpili at sa bandang huli’y tadhana pa rin ang nagpasiya sa kanilang kapalaran. Hindi matatawaran ang husay sa pag-arte nila Cruz at Alonzo. Maging si Reyes ay lutang ang kahusayan kahit pa kung tutuusin, siya’y baguhan sa larangan ng pag-arte. Maganda ang kuha ng kamera na nagpakita at nagdala sa manonood sa ilang magandang lugar sa Malyasia. Marami ring makabuluhang linyang magpapa-isip at magpapakilig sa manonood.

Patungkol sa isang wagas na pagmamahalang nagkatagpo sa isang maling panahon ang pelikula. Ipinakita kung paanong ang tunay na pag-ibig ay nahihirapang gumawa ng desisyon dahil sa takot nilang makasakit ng damdamnin ng iba. Ang dalisay na pag-ibig nga naman ay nagsasakripisyo at nagpaparaya. Ipinakita sa kuwento na maaring magmahalan ang dalawang tao kahit pa hindi pa sila gaanong magkakilala. Hindi ito gaanong makatotohanan at maaring magbigay ng maling pananaw sa manonood ukol sa pag-ibig. Lumutang nang husto ang konsepto ng mabilisang pagmamahalan at pag-asa sa tadhana ang kuwento. Mga mahika sa pag-ibig na maaring totoo lamang sa iilan. Higit na nakababahala rin ang pagpapakita ng relasyong sekswal ng mga tauhan sa labas ng kasal. Pawang ang mga ito’y katanggap-tanggap na sa lipunan at hindi na pinagtatalunan kung tama o mali. Nakababala ang pelikula sa aspetong ito. Pero ilan sa mga mabubuting aral sa pelikula ay ang pagpapakitang ang tunay na pagmamahal ay matiyagang naghihintay at sa pag-aasawa, ang kinakailangan ay parehas ang pagmamahal at respeto ng dalawang tao sa isa’t-isa. Ipinakita rin sa pelikula ang pagrespeto sa relihiyon at paniniwala ng isang tao. Gayunpaman, dahil sa ilang maseselang tema sa pelikula, nararapat lamang ito sa manonood na may gulang 14 pataas.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Edge of Darkness

ASSESSMENT ONLY

Cast: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Shawn Roberts; Director: Martin Campbell; Producers: Graham King, Michael Wearing; Screenwriters: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell; Music: Howard Shore; Editor: Stuart Baird; Genre: Horror/ Suspense/ Drama; Cinematography: Phil Meheux; Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Location: Massachusetts, USA Running Time: 117 min.;

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

CASINO ROYALE filmmaker Martin Campbell director directs a remake of his own BBC miniseries with this thriller. Mel Gibson stars as Thomas Craven, a man who has spent year as a detective in Boston. When his own daughter is killed near the door of his home, Craven realizes that her death is only one piece of a puzzle filled with corruption and conspiracy, and it falls to him to discover who is behind the crime.

ADDITIONAL REMARKS: Film is too violent for children and teenagers.

Invictus

ASSESSMENT ONLY

Cast: Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood; Director: Clint Eastwood; Producers: Lori McCreary, Robert Lorenz, Mace Neufeld; Screenwriters: Anthony Peckham; Genre: Drama/biographical protrait; Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Location: South Africa; Running Time: 135 min.;

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 4
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

The film tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa's rugby team, Francois Pienaar, to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nations remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa's underdog rugby team as they make an unlikely run to the 1995 World Cup Championship match. (Warner Bros.)

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief


Cast: Logan Lerman, Kevin McKidd, Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, Maria Olsen; Director: Chris Columbus; Screenplay: Joe Stillman, Rick Riordan; Producer/ Distributor: 20th Century Fox ; Running Time:125 minutes; Location: USA; Genre: Fantasy

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3
Rating: For viewers ages 13 and below with parental guidance

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a young man dealing with various issues at home and school. He and his mother (Catherine Keener) live with an abusive stepfather. Percy’s Dyslexia and ADHD make schooling even harder for him. In one field trip to a Greek history museum, Percy is attacked by his substitute teacher (Maria Olsen) who turns into a monstrous winged creature. Shocked and confused, his real identity is then revealed to him – that he is the son of a Greek god Poseidon and is accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt so his uncle Hades (rival of his father), and his mignons are after him. Upon learning this, Percy is sent off to a safe retreat in the woods to meet and train with other children who are also offspring of a Greek god and human parent. While training swordsmanship and other skills for future battle, Percy finds out that his uncle Hades is holding his mother in the underworld. Percy sneaks out of the camp together with Annabeth (Melina Kanakaredes), daughter of Athena and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), his protector, to rescue his mother and at the same time prove his innocence that he did not steal the lightning bolt that must be returned to Zeus to prevent the brewing war among the Olympians which poses imminent threat and danger to both the mortal and immortal worlds.

Another film adaptation of a novel, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief reminds the audience of the Harry Potter series. Sadly though, the film pales in comparison in terms of depth and magnitude. Although the film has its strengths that rely heavily on the Greek mythology accent in storytelling, it falls short in terms of cohesiveness and characterization. It will not also help if an audience is not knowledgeable of the Greek history and literature. But then, the visual effects are a spectacle and a real delight especially for young viewers. The script is apparently shallow but perhaps, it is the film’s way of reaching out to its audience. There is drama, humor and youth sensibilities combined that make the feature an effective venue for teen entertainment.

Greek gods and goddesses represent people’s aspiration for fame, fortune and power. For the longest time, the Greek mythology is believed to have inspired and influence many in terms of having concrete images and portrayals of God. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is able to provide these images on a positive tone. The offspring of a Greek god and human parent are born good and the voice of conscience they hear are actually the voice of their parent gods. This portrayal metaphorically represents God, whose voice we often hear but most of the time, fail to recognize. The said voice leads the main characters towards the right path and corrects decisions. The world of casino depicted in the film represents the hell of the worldly society. Alluring, enticing and without any trace of suffering, but all these are nothing but superficial traps leading to misery. Hell is seen as the destruction of human kind where despair, hopelessness and sin prevail. The antagonist in the story wants the destruction of Olympians so that he would be heir to the throne and rule the universe. Such hunger and greed for power, and disrespect of authorities never succeed. Ultimately, in the battle between good and evil, the former remains victorious. And this is possible only because, the good took action, recognized his innate power and goodness, and never allowed evil to succeed. There is a certain degree of violence and sexual innuendos in the film, although in context, that makes it appropriate only to audiences 13 years old and below with parental guidance.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Couples Retreat

Cast: Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, Faizon Love, Kristen Bell; Direction: Peter Billingsley; Screenplay: Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Dana Fox; Producer: Scott Stuber; Music: A.R. Rahman; Genre: Romantic Comedy; Distributor: Universal Pictures; Location: South Pacific; Running Time: 107 minutes;

Technical Assessment : 2.5
Moral Assessment : 2.5
CINEMA Rating : For mature viewers 18 and above

Four couples fly to a Southern Pacific island named Eden to have a fun-filled holiday under the pretense of attending a couples’ therapy retreat facilitated by famous Frenchman Marcel (Jean Reno). The couples include typical husband and wife Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Ronnie (Malin Akerman) who are having problems with their teenaged daughter; high school sweethearts Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristen Davis) who are in the brink of separating; childless couple Jason (Jason Bateman) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) who initiated the retreat and recently divorced Shane (Faizon Love) and his girlfriend Trudy (Kali Hawk). On the island, the group is ushered to Eden West and drilled with rules and policies, including the mandatory attendance in the couples’ therapy sections. Realizing the amenities of the resort, the couples agree to put up with a few hours of couples session. Fortunately, the unusual therapy sessions proved to be valuable as couples learned underlying issues of their relationship and an accidental trip to Eden East, the part of the island delegated for the singles, make them realize the love and commitment they still have for their spouses.

COUPLES’ RETREAT falls flat both in its attempt to be romantic and funny. The script is predictable, mediocre and sloppy although it does develop fairly well. With this kind of script, it is hard to decide whether the performances are wasted or are just unimaginative by themselves. It even falls flat visually despite its efforts to show the charm of Bora Bora. Despite the feel good ending, the movie fails to latch on the viewers’ hearts to become memorable. There are some good funny moments and a few tender scenes but overall it lacks that certain spice to become brilliant. A few months from now, even those who watch the movie will forget they did watch it.

Marriage is not just a piece of paper after a ceremony but a lifelong commitment celebrating true love. Couples Retreat reminds us about the value of keeping that commitment and exerting all efforts to keep the love alive between spouses. However, the methods invoked to bring out these themes, obviously just played out for comedy, are not credible alternative for real values rooted in spirituality. Young adults may be misled to think that humor is enough to repair a relationship.
There are several disturbing situations in the film including an adulterous relationship, rear nudity and jokes with sexual undertones and crude language. The movie better suited for mature adults.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day


Cast: Jessica Alba, Kathy Bates, Jessica Biel, Bradley Cooper, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Hector Elizondo, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Carter Jenkins, Ashton Kutcher, Queen Latifah, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift; Director: Garry Marshall; Producers: Mike Karz, Wayne Allan Rice, Josie Rosen; Screenwriter: Katherine Fugate; Music: John Debney; Editor: Bruce Green; Genre: Comedy/ Romance; Cinematography: Charles Minsky; Distributor: New Line Cinema; Location: Los Angeles, California; Running Time: 125 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For mature viewers 18 and above

As everyone in Los Angeles anticipates Valentine’s Day, flower shop owner Reed (Ashton Kutcher) prepares for the busiest day of the year. But before he does that, he proposes marriage to live-in girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba). While his best friend Julia (Jennifer Garner), is madly in-love with his doctor boyfriend (Patrick Dempsey) whose leaving for a scheduled surgery in another city. Julia does not suspect that his boyfriend might be hiding something from her. Her best friend Kara (Jessica Biel), meanwhile, insists that she attends her “I hate Valentine’s Day” party that same night. Theirs and other lives of various characters dealing with different issues of romance, falling in and out of love, break-up and making-up, intertwines further in one of the most celebrated and overrated, usually commercialized, occasions in the world.

Valentine’s Day treatment tends to be lighter as compared to other films of the same genre. The convoluted plots and subplots never really rise beyond expectations. The entire thread of the story just remained at a comfortable level without added depth and substance. Most scenes are nothing more than romantic clich├ęs that the audience may have already seen in a movie or two. The material comes out as very limiting to the supposedly powerhouse cast. But then, Valentine’s Day still passes off as a date movie with some of its romantic twists and relatable subplots. The film also provides some good laughs and uplifting moments with its showcase of various kinds of love. The strength of the film really lies on its stellar casts whom audiences anticipate to see on the big screen only that their appearances seem to be very brief, leaving their fans wanting for more.

What really is the relevance of Valentine’s Day? This is one important question posed by the movie. Has this day really lost its relevance and is nothing more than a product of commercialism? Valentine’s Day has tried answering these questions by presenting various lives of people longing for love, looking for love and holding on to love. They all believe that love exists and it’s the only thing on the planet that keeps everyone sane. Some may have lost their faith in love but they eventually find it in the most unexpected moment. The really disturbing aspect of the movie however is the somewhat distorted concepts of love that appears to center on sex. Most characters in the story, most of the time, relate love with sex as if the two are interchangeable terms. The kid’s concept of love remains to be the purest along with that of the mother’s love. Love between friends of the opposite sex seems to be impossible to remain platonic because it eventually leads to mutual attraction. But then, marrying one’s best friend is almost always a good idea for friendship is a good foundation of love. Communication, honesty, forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance are some of the virtues associated with love and is really shown effectively in the movie. The entire concept of the film however, with some adult themes, nudity and presentation of homosexual and extra-marital affairs, although made in context, make the movie appropriate for mature audience only.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Love Happens


Cast: Aaron Eckhart, Jennifer Aniston, Dan Fogler, Judy Greer; Director: Brandon Camp; Producers: Scott Stuber, Mike Thompson; Screenwriters: Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson; Music: Christopher Young; Editor: Dana E. Glauberman; Genre: Drama, Comedy, Romance; Cinematography: Eric Alan Edwards; Distributor: Universal Pictures; Location: USA; Running Time: 109 mins.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Burke (Aaron Eckhart) has just lost his wife and writes a self help book to cope with his own grief. During seminars, he helps people who lost their loved ones get over their pain and loneliness. But when alone in his room, he is a complete mess. When he holds a weekend seminar in Seattle, the place where his wife died, he meets Eloise (Jennifer Aniston) a florist who has no luck in finding her true love. As their friendship develops into something deeper, Burke begins to admit that he has not exactly been faithful to what he is preaching because of a secret surrounding his wife’s death. Eventually, Eloise helps him get over his grief and guilt and makes love happen for both of them.

In general Love Happens is technically above average and manages to bring out a happy sighs from the viewers when the end credits begin to roll. The storyline, though predictable, moves decently and the acting is adequate. Aniston and Eckhart make a believable pair. The music is endearing and does not exaggerate the feel-good-scenes. It is good but not memorable and few years from now, you cannot expect it to be in any list of must-see love stories.

There are a number of positive messages in the film. One, it celebrates life and teaches us to accept death. Love Happens illustrates hope as it follows a person goes through his sorrow and his learning to forgive himself and move on. Two, the film shows us how charity is an act when one stranger is willing to give more than he can afford so that another person may suffer less. The movie showcases several characters in their various degrees of sadness or pain while appreciating and people who help them overcome their grief.

Dear John

Cast: Channing Tatum, Amanda Seyfried, Richard Jenkins, Henry Thomas; Director: Lasse Hallstrom; Producers: Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey, Ryan Kavanaugh; Screenwriter: Jamie Linden; Music: Deborah Lurie; Editor: Kristina Boden; Genre: Drama, Romance, War; Cinematography: Terry Stacey; Distributor: Paramount Pictures; Location: USA; Running Time: 105 min.;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 2.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

John (Channing Tatum), a soldier of the U.S. Army Special Forces is having a two week leave to be with Mr. Tyree (Richard Jenkins), his father who collects rare coins with a passion bordering on abnormality. Also on a spring break is Savannah Curtis (Amanda Seyfried), a young college student whose physical beauty matches her idealism. One fateful day on a South Carolina beach, John happens to be around when Savannah accidentally drops her purse by the pier and John skillfully retrieves it from the deep water. In the two glorious weeks that follow, the two new acquaintances fall madly in love, enjoy their short time together, even get to know each other’s family and neighbors. After the two week togetherness the two lovers vow to keep their love alive during John’s one year tour of duty by frequently writing each other. But 9/11 happens and John, the good soldier answers the call of duty and enlists again for deployment abroad. This time the separation is much longer. Until when can the two lovers endure the lengthy separativeness? Will the love letters suffice to keep the flame of love burning?

One familiar with Nicholas Spark’s novels or films based on these novels will most probably be conditioned to expect a bitter sweet ending to our current Dear John, another adaptation to the screen of the popular novelist’s work. And true enough, just like the favorite romances, his The Notebook and Message in a Bottle, the film Dear John has that twist almost at the end that makes the ending “not too happy nor too sad” and therefore bearing some similitude to life. A romance is hardly expected to be “realistic” in the sense that it cannot be grim and dead serious but the viewer may appreciate some semblance to life as in the logical development of this story and of its characters. Love, indeed, can be mentioned as among the “collateral damage” in a war. Then, love may not be extinguished but it can undergo a change. Very good photography has captured the beautiful sunshiny ambience surrounding happy young love as well as the grime, hardship and danger in the war scenes as depicted or sepia shades interspersed between the reading of the love letters. The lead characters are well cast. Pensive Channing Tatum with his beautifully chiseled body and Amanda Seyfried with her Rapunzel-like golden hair and expressive eyes are right for the roles which they do adequately well. There is not much depth to the characterization but we note Savannah’s compassionate nature as shown in her attitude towards the special child and John’s mildly autistic father. We also note the patriotic streak in John which impels him to answer his country’s call, a sacrifice that costs him dearly. Such character traits have a bearing on the outcome of the story. Director Lasse Hallstrom handles the story with a tender light touch so that the film acquires a quiet, somewhat lyrical, equality.

Dear John has many things going for it. It is technically good, for one. It has also some positive values. The lead character Savannah comes from a well to do family. But she is unlike other young rich girls her age, on vacation from college. True, she has time far fun but she also gives some attention to those less fortunate, like her autistic neighbor whom she teaches to ride a horse and with whom she spends time. She is idealistic and dreams of building a camp for needy children after graduation. She envisions a life not only of pleasure but also of giving. She probably understands John’s father better than John himself so that she mentions that he may be an undiagnosed mild case but needs understanding, nevertheless. John did not at first really understand his father with whom he could hardly communicate but he does spend some time with him. Autism is poignantly portrayed and the involved families have generously accepted the consequences of the “disability”. Another positive value portrayed is John’s readiness to respond to his country’s needs. However, in spite of the film’s technical excellence and other good points noted, the picture is rated below average because it is blighted by some negative values. Pre-marital sex can never be condoned. Aside from the sensuality, there is also some violence. Only mature viewers 14 years old and above should allowed to see this movie.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Did You Hear About Morgans?

Cast: Hugh Grant, Meryl Jessica Parker, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen; Director: Marc Lawrence; Producers: Martin Shafer, Liz Glotzer; Screenwriter: Marc Lawrence; Music: Theodore Shapiro; Editor: Susan E. Morse; Genre: Drama; Cinematography: Florian Ballhaus; Distributor: Sony Pictures; Location: USA; Running Time: 123 mins;

Technical Assessment: 3
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

High profile and successful Manhattan couple, Meryl (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Paul Morgan (Hugh Grant) have almost everything going for them except their failing marriage caused by Paul’s infidelity and Meryl’s suspected infertility. Meryl has been living alone in her apartment and Paul has been staying in a hotel for three months already. But when they witness a murder and become a target of a professional killer, they will have no choice but to come to terms that they will live together again under one roof. The FBI’s witness protection program takes them away from New York to a tiny town in Ray, Wyoming. There, they will experience a totally different life together away from the city, with Paul trying very hard to rekindle their old romance. Will Meryl finally give in?

The premise, though pretty interesting, remains to be the usual Hollywood mainstream. The film has lots of strengths and acting is one of them. Parker fits the role of a materialistic city girl perfectly and Grant is as convincing although quite predictable. There are still some stereotypical portrayals present in the story like the typical New Yorkers and country folks but the story does not dwell on too much of these so the entire picture comes out as refreshing. The suspense part is a bit slow and does not really build into a climax and the romance lacks certain sparkle. But the Parker-Grant tandem provides some sort of depth and maturity in the romance so they are able to pull it off. The focus on the marital issues comes out effectively and it is this part of the movie where the audience is tickled. The laughs are good enough and do not undermine the audience’s intellect.

Marital problems and issues abound the fast-paced city lifestyle so the film’s theme will always be timely and relevant. There are two distinct characters in the story and their differences are really apparent. Issues of infidelity, communication differences, personality differences, and even infertility are discussed in the film head-on. Infidelity is a mistake in any relationship and the movie tells the audience just as that. No justification. No compromise. It is wrong and will always be wrong in the eyes of men and in the eyes God. But then, the film also recognizes the value of forgiveness. It is in forgiving one another that a couple stays together in marriage. It is also in forgiveness that they are able to fully fulfill their marriage vows. However, as shown in the movie, forgiveness is not given easily unless there is sincere contrition on the part of the offender. Paul has to say sorry so many times but the words meant nothing until Meryl felt the sincerity. When the Morgans lived in the tiny town of Wyoming, they are able to appreciate one another - both their similarities and differences. Once they have been away from the busy and materialistic city lifestyle, they are able to communicate like they have never done before. And finally, the Morgans are able to realize life’s essentials – relationships. More than the wealth and status, it is their marriage—their family, that is worth keeping and worth saving.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Where the Wild Things Are

Cast: Max Records, Catherin Keener, Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, Paul Dano, James Gandolfini; Director: Spike Jonze; Producers: Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Maurice Sendak; Screenwriters: Spike Jonze, Dace Egger; Music: Karen O Carter Burwell; Editor: Eric Zumbrunnen; Genre: Animation, Fantasy; Cinematography: Lance Acord; Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures; Running Time: 101 min.;

Technical Assessment: 4
Moral Assessment: 3
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

The movie is an adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s 1963 award winning children’s book. It stars 9 year-old Max (Max Records), a boy with a very active imagination and bad temper. He constantly throws tantrums when things don’t go his way. When his divorced mother, Connie (Catherine Keener), yells at him for acting out during dinner with her boyfriend, Max runs away in the middle of the night and stumbles into an island inhabited by six large monster-like creatures. When the giant creatures are about to eat him, Max tells them he is actually a king with magical powers and that he can unite their group. For a time, Max is able to impose his rules and bond Carol (James Gandolfini) and KW (Lauren Ambrose). However, when Alexander (Paul Dano) gets hurt during a fight between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”, as Max suggested, settling another issue among the group, his secret is exposed and he decides to come home.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is a poignant movie about childhood and the inner struggles of a child. The director’s vision and interpretation is beautiful, stunning and painfully truthful despite the animations and puppetry. The story is symbolic but clear while Records portrays his character very well. The production has tenderly captured Max’s struggle as shown by his unruly exterior and his lonely inner self and creatively presented the conflicts a young boy undergoes. The giant creatures capture an aspect of Max’s personality and life and show how children manage to be alternately creative and destructive as the same time. The technical side of the film is outstanding, with a moving musical score, spectacular cinematography and imaginative CGI’s.

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE shows selfishness and selflessness, creativity and destruction, temper and patience, acceptance and maturity through the eyes and mind of a 9 year old. More importantly, it emphasizes the value of home and family as Max travels in his mind to his make-believe world of carefree monsters, at the end of the day, he chooses to return home to his family.

The authors of the film have emphasized that this is a movie about childhood and not necessarily for children, but with six adorable creatures interacting with a child protagonist, most children with be enticed to watch this as well. It is important that parents understand the movie and consciously decide if they can afford to allow them to watch this.

On the one hand, the movie may be too dark for some children. There is a certain melancholy in the film that might disturb very young audiences. Parents should be prepared to guide and explain the destructive behaviors expressed every now and then. On the other hand, as soon as parents are ready to deal with issues that may arise, it is a must see movie to explain friendship, inner struggles and discipline to young children.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Princess and the Frog

Cast: Anika Noni Rose, John Goodman, Keith David, Jim Cummings; Director: John Musker, Ron Clements; Producer: Peter Del Vecho; Screenwriters: Ron Clements, John Musker; Music: Randy Newman; Editor: Jeff Draheim; Genre: Animated/Children; Distributor: Walt Disney; Location: USA; Running Time: 96 mins;

Technical Assessment: 3.5
Moral Assessment: 3.5
CINEMA Rating: For viewers age 13 and below with parental guidance

BRIEF FILM SYNOPSIS

Walt Disney Animation Studios presents the musical THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG, an animated comedy set in the great city of New Orleans. From the creators of “the Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” comes a modern classic tale, featuring a beautiful girl named Tiana (Anika Noni Rose), a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again, and a fateful kiss that leads them both on a hilarious adventure through the mystical bayous of Louisiana.

THE PRINCESS AND THE FROG marks the return to hand-drawn animation form the revered team of John Musker and Ron Clements, with music by Oscar-winning composer Randy Newman. (Walt Disney)