Friday, March 28, 2008

Horton hears a Who

Title: Horton hears a Who
Cast: Jim Carey, Steve Carell, Carol Burnett
Directors: Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
Producer: Bob Gordon
Screenwriters: Ken Daurio, Cinco Paul
Music: John Powell
Editor: Tim Nordquist
Running Time: 88 min.
Genre: Animation/ Adventure/Comedy
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Technical Assessment: * * * ½
Moral Assessment: ● ● ● ●
CINEMA Rating: For viewers of all ages

Friendly and ordinary as animal lovers like to think,
Horton is a harmless elephant who lives in a friendly,
jungle. One day, he hears a teeny-weeney
voice supposedly coming from a speck of dust which has
settled on a delicate but inconsequential flower that
the jungle has billions of. Following his ears, he
investigates the sounds he picks up, leading to his
discovery that on that speck of dust is a whole world
populated by “Whos” who, incidentally, have facilities
to communicate with Horton, too. Horton befriends
these furry little creatures he hears but can not see,
and takes it upon himself to protect at all costs the
little flower the speck of dust clings to. Then
trouble comes in: the other jungle creatures see
Horton talking to a speck of dust and think that he
has gone crazy. Of course, nobody else in the jungle
has ears as huge as the elephant’s, so how could they
hear what Horton hears? So they all gang up on him,
determined to get rid of the speck of dust and lock
the crazy elephant up in a cage.

By the squealing and giggling of the audience (half of
whom are children) you’d know how delightful Horton
hears a Who
is. A Dr. Seuss tale, Horton hears a Who
is not only entertaining to watch; it is also
engaging, as Horton the elephant comes across as
almost human with a kind heart, completely believing
in what he hears and knows to be true, and laying his
life on the line to save the people concerned. That’s
the main attraction of the movie—the story itself,
backed by effective “characterization” and imagery so
winning it can appeal to even adults who are children
at heart.

Horton hears a Who is a good balance of cartoon and
character: a solid message delivered with a lollipop
flavor. If the suspicious jungle creatures in this
movie are that determined to destroy the speck of
dust, Horton is even more determined to save it, after
all, he believes, persons live on that dust speck, and
“A person is a person, no matter how small.” Besides
this solid lesson in tolerance and charity, the movie
offers “bonuses” for people who have ears, so to
speak. The importance of listening is highlighted
here—and are we followers of Jesus not taught that
faith begins from listening? Hearing the Word of God
and listening for His message, and being courageous in
standing for what we believe in? Horton hears a Who
also offers a lesson in humility as it subtly reminds
us of our smallness—when we gaze at the dark starlit
skies we realize our planet is but a speck of dust (if
not smaller) in the vastness of creation, yet our
faith teaches us that the Holy Spirit dwells within
our person.


Title: Solstice
Cast: Elisabeth Harnois, Sahwn Ashmore, Tyler Hoechlin, Amanda Seyfried, Matt O’Leary, Hilarie Burton, R. Lee Ermey, Jenna Hildebrand
Director: Daniel Myrick
Producers: James D. Stern, Adam Del Deo
Screenwriters: Daniel Myrick, Marty Musatov, Ethan Erwin
Music: Jane Antonia Cornish, John Houlin
Editor: Mathilde Bonnefoy
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Running Time: 87 min.
Cinematography: M. David Mullen Distributor: Viva Production

Location: Louisiana, USA

Technical Assessment: * * *
Moral Assessment: ● ● ●
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

The suicide of her twin sister, Sofie, haunts Megan
(Elisabeth Harnois) who feels guilty that she had not
detected warning signs and even reprimanded the former
for her strange behavior. To pack the things of her
sister in their summer house in Louisiana, she decides
to push through the annual visit there together with
her friends, Christian (Shawn Ashmore), Zoe (Amanda
Seyfried), Mark (Matt O’Leary) and Alicia (Hilarie
). They meet and befriend Nick (Tyler
) the young storekeeper and anthropology
student who teaches them how to communicate with the
dead and that the best time to do this is in a
solstice when the sun is at its highest, a time when
our world and the other world is allegedly closest..
They also encounter an eccentric, old neighbor Leonard
(R. Lee Ermey) whose granddaughter who used to stay
with him disappeared mysteriously. When Megan
experiences weird incidents in the summer home, she
feels that Sofie is trying to send her a message. Her
determination to unlock the mystery of her sister’s
death will lead to shocking secrets that will finally
come to light in a solstice moment.

Louisiana’s lake and marshy inlets, particularly at
night, lend a spooky setting to the story. The music
and the sound department creditably create and
heighten suspense. The summer outing of the group
lasts only for three days but flashbacks enable the
viewers to know past events and their bearing to some
characters. The film is more textured than a Nancy
Drew mystery since it introduces the presence of a
spirit, communication with the spirit world, and has a
surprise ending. The female lead, Megan, is portrayed
as incredibly brave and daring who can intrude into a
weird neighbor’s house and miraculously escape. The
film adopts overused images and sounds intended to
horrify, like the imprint of a bloody hand on the
window, blood flowing from the faucet, slamming of a
door, a trail of blood on the floor and strange

Although casual sex, dialogues and sexual
innuendos in the film may be acceptable to the western
culture, it is not the exposure we would like for
our young people. While praying for our departed ones
is encouraged, calling on the spirits as a game or an
experiment could be a dangerous exercise. But there
are many lessons that one could learn from Solstice.
It warns those who are easily distracted, like those
who use their cell phones while driving, or those who
drive under the influence of alcohol, how these
indulgences can lead to serious accidents. It also
reminds us to be more caring and supportive of family
members who need our attention and help. We should
acknowledge our failures or mistakes and be
responsible for the consequences of our actions.
There are no secrets that remain hidden forever.
Unless confessed and atoned for, feelings of guilt for
a wrong done could harm persons psychologically and
lead to their destruction. We need good friends to
make us whole and bring us closer to the truth.

Over Her Dead Body

Title: Over Her Dead Body Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Eva Longoria Parker, Paul Rudd, Lake Bell, Jason Biggs
Director: Jeff Lowell
Producers: Paul Brooks, Scott Niemeyer, Peter Safran,
Norm Waitt
Screenwriter: Jeff Lowell
Music: David Kitay
Editor: Matt Friedman Genre: Romantic Comedy/ Fantasy
Cinematography: John Bailey Distributor: New Line
Location: Los Angeles, USA

Technical Assessment: * * ½
Moral Assessment: ● ● ½
CINEMA Rating: For viewers 14 and above

Kate (Eva Longoria Parker) is about to be married to
Henry (Paul Rudd), but on the day of their wedding,
Kate dies when she is crushed by a huge ice sculpture
of an angel. Kate is not allowed to enter heaven until
she finally resolves her unfinished business on earth.
Thus, Kate goes back to earth as a ghost constantly
guarding Henry. Meanwhile, Henry is unable to fully
recover from the trauma of loosing Kate even after a
year, so he reluctantly agrees to consult a part-time
psychic cum full time caterer named Ashley (Lake Bell)
at the urging of his sister Chloe (Lindsay Sloane).
Despite his skepticism over Ashley’s psychic
abilities, Henry finds himself falling hard for
Ashley, and the same is true with Ashley. Kate
however, haunts Ashley for she considers it her
heavenly duty to break up Henry and Ashley’s
blossoming romance.

The premise of Over Her Dead Body is not really new.
However, the actors themselves are somehow able to
pull it off because the viewers do not see them on the
big screen often. Eva Longoria Parker and Paul Rudd
together with the rest of the cast are more popularly
known as television stars. But then, the same strength
gives the film its major setback. Over Her Dead Body
appears to be a made-for-TV-movie. The storyline is
less cinematic and the script is a no-brainer. There
are some funny moments in the movie though that the
audiences would surely enjoy but the film does not
really go beyond being clicheic and predictable.
Can a ghost really have a power over human beings’
decision? The film has worked on this thesis and it
actually says that the phrase, “till death do us part”
is never applicable for some obnoxious souls such as
Kate’s. Although there is quiet retribution towards
the end, apparently the outcome of events are all
maneuvered by her, a ghost. There are lessons of love
and letting go to be learned in the film. Ashley as
the fake psychic goes back to the Catholic Church
which is also commendable. However, young audiences
should be cautioned of some mild sexual insinuation,
nudity and vulgar language. The film condones
pre-marital sex and depicts drunkenness as funny and
acceptable. Gender stereotyping and discrimination is
also present in the movie.