Opens Thursday, April 22nd, Earth Day
Written by: Beth B.
The second installment (the first being “Earth”) of the modern-day â€œDisneynatureâ€ film series, â€œOceansâ€ promises a rare look at the world of sea creatures from their own point of view. The film succeeds at this with little narration, and a lot of observation.
The key ingredient to this film is patience. A lot of patience is what French filmmakers, Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud had in order to capture a rare up-close and personal glimpse into the sea life of such marine creatures as: Blanket Octopus, Fur Seals, Dugongs, Sea Turtles, Humpback Whales, Lion Fish, and Ribbon Eels, just to name a few.
The beautiful visuals are lightly sprinkled with the rich voice of actor, Pierce Brosnan. OCEANS is not purely an educational film, but a sea animal admiration film. It’s shot from an observational perspective, and is filled with scenes of survival, animal interaction, emotion. The only signs of human presence in the film are of a young boy gazing at the ocean, a brief scene of polluted waters, and a ship of fisherman.
Watch OCEANS world premiere video below:
The main oceans that are featured in the documentary are: South African, Australia, The China Sea, Monterey Bay, Mediterranean Sea, and ending the oceanic journey in Alaska and the Antarctic where most of the marine animals were traveling to. Other oceans included in this adventure were: Canada Artic, Costa Rica, and Galapagos.
OCEANS is narrated for the American market by Pierce Brosnan. Other versions include Italian and Japanese, NOT narrated by Brosnan. Young Disney stars Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato lent their voices for the ending credit song “Make A Wave”.
Although a nature exploration and celebration of the elusive sea dwellers, the Disney mark is evident in OCEANS. The settle emotions expressed by the sea creatures portrayed by deep instrumental musical pieces (supplied by Paris Philharmonic) , is reminiscent of earlier cartoon films by Disney such as â€œFantasiaâ€, and â€œBambiâ€. Life lessons are learned and shown through the cameraâ€™s eye as a Leopard Seal awaits patiently to coax her baby into the icy cold waters for itsâ€™ first swim, or when newly-hatched sea turtles must race for their lives into their new water world. Images of these animals are so incredibly sharp that at times, these creatures appear to be digital animations.
Stay tuned at the very end of OCEANS during the end credits for special behind-the-scenes footage of the underwater crew showing how key scenes were shot.
Viewers will take with them beautifully photographed scenes of dominant monochromatic tones with pops of color, as well as rare camera angles and footage of a world we have never seen before like this! OCEANS captures an impressive understanding of how these animals continue to survive among a world of strong human influence.
HUBBLE 3D: IMAX Almost Like Being There!
Opened Friday, March 19th
Written and reported by: Beth B.
Upon the flight into Space to repair and upgrade “the world’s first space-based observatory, 350 miles above the Earth”, Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronauts returned with footage from an IMAX camera along with breathtaking images taken by the telescope over the last 20 years.
This science documentary is a great escape, and allows viewers to experience what a space visit is like through the first-hand perspective of the STS 125 Mission NASA astronauts. Audiences will get inside the astronauts head with narration by each one of them expressing their thoughts as they prepare for the flight occurring in May 2009. Supplemental narration is provided by award-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio whose voice describes actions of the astronauts as well as supplying educational information on stellar images taken by the telescope.
“In the process of going to the moon, we discovered Earth” one astronaut stated in the film. Mission Specialist Dr. Michael J. Massimino explained what an incredible experience it was to visually see planet Earth for the first time. He also stated that he had always wished his family and friends could see what he has seen in his two spaceflights with NASA, and feels that “Hubble 3D” provides that.
Massimino was the astronaut that did the repairs to Hubble. Working on Hubble was like “doing brain surgery with oven mittens on” he stated in the film.
Director and Producer, Toni Myers has worked with Graeme Ferguson, co-inventor and co-founder of IMAX for 40 years. Her past credits include: “Space Station 3D”, “Blue Planet”, among many others. One colleague attested that Myers “is IMAX”, while another one stated she is “the Steven Spielberg of IMAX movies”. Myers worked closely with NASA to produce “Hubble 3D”. But, firmly states that NASA never implored restrictions on any of the material in the movie.
In “Hubble 3D”, there are two flights through the IMAX camera. One is the Orion Nebula, the other is the Milky Way Galaxy. Myers used a special software that allowed the visuals of flying through these images. Without giving anything away, the most impressive shot is placed towards the very end of the movie, and happens to be Myers’ favorite one. The stars in the movie are 10 billion light years before Earth.
More impressive is how this movie was made. Myers worked off of a shot sheet. There was no script. Ferguson and Myers, had to train the team of astronauts on the camera equipment for eight months. Eight minutes equals 1 mile long of film. There are no reloads. Astronauts were also trained and given a Canon HD camera to shoot cabin scenes. They also wore helmet cams. Myers developed a “wish-list” of scenes and “hoped that they got it”. In space, there is a sunrise and a sunset every 90 minutes, making for an even more challenging environment to film.
Myers explained that it was her intent to leave viewers wanting more. Well, she certainly achieved that. This film is 43 minutes long, which is not quite enough time to really explore into the depths of space. More interaction between the astronauts while in space would have been great. However, audiences will find out how astronauts take showers in space. Interesting tidbits are also learned in this movie such as a behind-the-scenes look at the astronauts training in a huge swimming pool that is four-stories deep.
The best space descriptive came from Massimino during a screening of the film. He said that take-off in the shuttle is “3G’s which equals three times your weight going against you. Then, it stops, and it’s quite and you’re floating”. He also stated that what he wants audiences to take out of watching “Hubble 3D” is that “you can all see what it’s like. We’re as close as we can get with this movie” (to actually being in space).
Hubble 3D opened in selected museums, science centers, and IMAX theaters worldwide March 19th. It will be commercially released in April.
Check theater listings here: http://www.IMAX.com
Opened Friday, December 18th
Written and reported by: Bianca Mina
Over 10 years ago, his Titanic film was winning 11 Oscar statuettes. Thursday night, another James Cameron â€œÃ¼berâ€ production made history. Avatar challenged any cinematic techniques us, mortals, might know of. Seen in IMAX 3D, the filmâ€™s 3D images are flawless and for 150 minutes the viewers travel to another world, beautifully designed, named “Pandora”. The movie can be praised for a number of qualities from the acting, the direction, to, the special effects. Avatar can be interpreted as yet another science fiction film with a different take on â€œArtificial Intelligenceâ€, where a dummy body is created of a real character. However, the genius of Avatar consists in the creation of â€œPandoraâ€, and for that there is no precedent.
Pandora got my attention especially for its name. In Greek mythology, “Pandora”, which translates as â€œall-giftedâ€, is the first woman created to whom each God gave one gift but also a jar which she was not to open. Her human curiosity pushes her into opening the box, out of which evils escape except for one thing laying on the bottom- HOPE. On the â€œAvatarâ€ Pandora, a dreamlike world of luxurious nature, the ills of human life have been released once humans have arrived to mine a precious mineral, called “Unobtainium”.
The story of the marine, whose â€œavatarâ€ is a blue-skinned, yellow-eyed giant made after the appearance of the Naâ€™vis mixed with the filmâ€™s special effects wizardry is powerful enough to win the hearts of viewers around the world, or at least Twentieth Century Fox hopes so. The studio invested over 300 million dollars into the film
HOLLYWOOD JUNKET attended the premier of the movie in Burbank, CA where we got the chance to encounter fans, who have been waiting for 14 years for the masterpiece, and its Michelangelo. Although “Ewya” (the main God of the Naâ€™vis), James Cameron didnâ€™t respond to our wish to interview him, the creator himself. The crew did get a chance to shake James Cameronâ€™s hands and were wished to â€œEnjoy the movieâ€ by the â€œking of the worldâ€.
12 years later, James Cameron has proven his point. He is the king of a world, or at least the “Pandora” world.
Opens: Wednesday, November 25th
Written By: Stephanie Andolino, Freelance Entertainment Reporter
“The Road” is a wrenching emotional journey, starring the captivating Viggo Mortensen as a character known only as â€œThe Man,â€ a talented young actor, Kodi Smit-McPhee, known only as â€œThe Boy,â€ and the beautiful Charlize Theron, known only as â€œThe Woman.â€
The film is based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, which takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, where only a few humans remain alive in a cruel, cold, barren existence with almost no food or shelter. Each day is a test of survival. And because of that, The Man’s wife commits suicide as what she sees as her only way out. Left alone to fend for themselves, The Man and his son must make their way toward what they feel will be a better place – down south, where it is hopefully warmer with more humankind – “kind” being the important word.
It is a journey filled with tough choices at times, to kill or be killed, steal or go hungry yourself. Eventually The Man loses his battle to survive and The Boy must fend for himself. Yet then, he finds another home with a new family, another man, woman, with children of their ownâ€¦ even a dog. And with one of the children being a female, it gives the viewer hope that indeed humankind will live on and make its way back to a real life again.
Mortensen was sought out as the only choice for the leading role, and provides a brilliant performance as a natural father to The Boy. â€œThe Manâ€ really isn’t as appropriate a name for his character as â€œThe Fatherâ€ would be. It is his unrelenting selflessness and kindness toward his son that is as powerful as it comes. There are some amazing lines of dialogue that show off such depth to his love. I believe that because of Mortensen’s poignant performance, despite the bleak grayness of their environment, one can take from this film a message that love is the ultimate. I do see an Oscar in his future.
Australian Smit-McPhee, hails from down-under and was picked to star with Mortensen after a worldwide search. Smit-McPhee already has a number of credits to his name and delivered a touching performance. As Mortensen says of Smit-Phee’s acting, â€œthe boy breaks your heart.â€ They made a truly loving father and son team.
Although the film takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, most of the locations are actually harsh, extreme versions of our real environment. There are no crazy sci-fi special effects, which only makes it that much more relateable to the audience, yet frighteningly all too real at the same time. â€œIt was our conscience as actors,â€ Mortensen says of the landscape itself. And as Joe Penhall, screenwriter for “The Road” states, â€œThe earth is as much a character as the other three,â€ (The Man, The Boy, The Woman).
Many times you may want to shut your eyes at a certain harsh scenes. Many times you will cry. But in the end, hopefully we all learn the true meaning of what we must do to survive and that is to care for each other.
Opens Friday, November 20th
Written by: Stephanie Andolino, Freelance Entertainment Reporter
Planet 51 is a charming animated tale that takes viewers inside an imaginary world into outer space that is only too close to home – or perhaps what used to be. Itâ€™s a planet that is actually a throw-back to a gentler time in our history – the 1950s, hence the title of the film: “Planet 51″ (as in 1951).
Astronaut Charles “Chuck” T. Baker discovers HE is the “alien”.
In a reversal of situations, NASA astronaut Charles â€œChuckâ€ T. Baker (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) lands on Planet 51 where he discovers extraterrestrial life form, making him their â€œalienâ€, or â€œhumanoidâ€ as the Planet 51 aliens call us. Aside from physical traits including green skin, four-fingered hands, and webbed feet, the aliens are quite humanistic in nature. Male aliens wear 1950s bowling shirts, females wear dresses all the time, and kids are excited about the local comic book store and what’s playing at the movie theater. And of course they speak our language – English.
In true Hollywood fashion, Chuck must engage the help of a few kind green aliens, Lem (Justin Long) who is a student and aspiring astronomer, Lemâ€™s friend Skiff (Seann William Scott), and girlfriend Neera (Jessica Biel) in order to find his way home. In the interim, Chuck must dodge bullets, hide out, and ultimately stand up to enemies General Grawl (Gary Oldman) and Professor Kipple (John Cleese) in order to get his happy ending and make it back to Earth.
The beautiful and lush animation was truly â€œout of this world.â€ You won’t be able to keep your eyes off of the aliens’ hair alone! The texture was so life-like you just wanted to reach out and grab it! It reminded me of the thick play-dough spaghetti you used to make as a child from the Play-Doh spaghetti factory set. According to Director of Technology, Gonzalo Rueda, from Spanish company Ilion Animation Studios who created the feature, they used what is known as a full-body animation rig that created the ability to give the characters such believable movements. â€œWe try to keep the controls as simple as possible, while always making sure that the animator has full control over every aspect of a character’s behavior,â€ Rueda said.
“Planet 51″ is the first feature for Ilion Animation Studios, released by Sony and cost $60 million to make. Written by Joe Stillman (“Shrek”, “Shrek 2″), it took three years in the making. The talent of twelve executive producers, and three directors, Jorge Blanco, with co-directors Javier Abad, and Marco Martinez went into the making of this movie. Even the actors remember how far back and how hard and long the producers and directors worked on getting this film made. According to each of the three main stars, it was truly an amazing experience to be part of this long creative journey.
Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a â€œThe Rockâ€) who was the voice of Chuck, stated, â€œfor me, it was the first time that I had done an animation movie and trying to bring the characters to life with your voice.â€ With the long process of getting this film made it truly was a labor of love for the production team. According to Johnson, â€œtheir passion in the room when you’re doing the voice-overs was very intoxicating, very inspiring. It was the coolest thing when I finally saw the movie (completed).â€
The character of Neera (Jessica Biel) had a sense of independence about her as a young female coming into her own. According to Biel, she went back to her teenage years of feeling what it was like to be in that in-between stage of life from childhood to womanhood to relate to her character. â€œNeera is really taken by the idea of being part of something bigger than herself,â€ said Biel.
Justin Long (â€œDrag Me to Hellâ€, Mac commercials) , is no stranger to voice-over work . He is the voice of Alvin in the new “Alvin and the Chipmunks” features. For him the film beautiful animation is what really excited him about the project about this Utopian alien world. And he related to his character, remembering his own youth as well. â€œIt was nice to go back to that timeâ€¦ a more innocent time.â€
It is this sense of innocence that the filmmakers were truly able to manifest in this feature. With such an idea of peace and utopia seemingly all but just a fantasy anymore, it is a great escape to such a world. Maybe it is too much to think that there ever was such a time of innocence. More importantly, maybe it is more than a film just to make kids happy, but also give us the idea of what the world could actually be.
There is a video game to go along with the film as well. Rated E for everyone.
Opens Summer 2010
Written by: Stephanie Andolino, Freelance Entertainment Reporter
Any funny crass summer comedy film a guy can do, independent film director Leah Sturgis can do better. The Hard Breakers is Sturgis’ directorial debut. With an uncanny ability to provide both male and female humor alike, Sturgis’ comedy was just selected for the chance to be screened at the Director’s Guild for distribution purposes and is on its way to your theater and/or TV set, summer 2010.
Although an indie film, the cast is made up of a bunch of familiar faces from Chris Kattan, Tom Arnold, Bobby Lee, and Tia Carrere, with Sophie Monk and Cameron Richardson starring as a comedy team ala Laverne and Shirley style, only more modern, blonde, and sexier. Raised in Nevada, Sturgis followed the film crowd and moved to Canada, making her mark in British Columbia. After learning from the best at the IATSE Camera Trainee program, Sturgis moved on to direct over 60 various TV shows for Canadian TV. Now, settled back in America, she not only directed, but also co-wrote (along with Elaine Fogg), and produced The Hard Breakers. Watch out male Hollywood suits, there is a new woman in town, and Sturgis speaks your language.
Where The Wild Things Are
Opens Friday, October 16th
Written by: Beth B.
A classic childrens book written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, “Where The Wild Things Are” is where a child’s fantasy world teaches him the strengths within himself as he combats the difficulties of becoming a young man and discovers humanistic qualities in these wild creatures that are similar to his own families when he runs away to them.
This movie is visually stunning. Much of the dark cinematography is true to the pages in the book. A film that took twelve years in the making by producers Tom Hanks, Maurice Sendak, and Gary Goetzman met their director in Spike Jonze, former video director, and director of feature films, “Being John Malkovich, and “Adaptation”. Jonze accomplished staging the film in a way that makes it feel real, not like a dream or fantasy. With this film, Jonze stated, he set out to NOT “make a children’s movie….but to make a movie about childhood”.
Young actor, Max Records, who plays Max is very impressive and believable. His emotions are real, and is able to achieve bringing audiences into his world without question. I detect a very successful future leading man in the years to come. The character, Max, is going through that awkward phase that all kids go through. He is experiencing an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, and being misunderstood. He’s got an over-strained single mother, and a teenage sister. All of this leads up to an ultimate escape to where the wild things are.
After Max’s arrival to the island (an Australian location was used) where the 9-foot hairy creatures, “wild things” reside, he is immediately threatened with their desire to eat him. In order to fend them off, he creates stories of being a king with worldly adventures as well as holding super powers. The leader of the group, Carol (voiced by James Gandolfini) is convinced and says “I have a good feeling about him”. Soon, the two create a close bond.
Cast of other starring voice actors are: Lauren Ambrose (KW), Chris Cooper (Douglas), Catherine O’Hara (Judith), Forest Whitaker (Ira), and Paul Dano (Alexander).
The creatures in ‘Wild Things are well represented by two sets of actors. One each for their voices, and one each for their Australian suit-wearing actor counterparts. Director, Spike Jonze had the stars of the film, act out the whole movie over two weeks on a sound stage. The voices and footage is what the Australian puppeteers went off of to achieve the physical theatrics on location combined with CG facial features done in post production is what audience see in the film.
The secluded island of “Where The Wild Things Are” consists of emotionally and governmental instability amongst the creatures. Highs of rocks and trees, and lows of the smooth sand dunes and beach. Being in control of the them and their land is a child’s fantasy where all child-like things happen including, dirt clod fights, bashing-in branch structures, and a lot of rough housing in general. As emotions and actions heighten, Max has a revelation of his own about himself and his family. His changed perspective forces him to realize that he didn’t have it so bad at home, and that no where is perfect…even in a fantasy world you create.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
Spiraling IMAX 3D effects in vibrant food colors!
Opens Friday, September 18th
Written by: Beth B.
Written by a well-known children’s book author, Judi Barrett, and illustrated by Ron Barrett, the book “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” was developed by Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Imageworks for three years to re-create it for the big screen in 3-D opening this Friday in IMAX.
A small-town inventor who’s known to the locals as the town’s wacko, Flint Lockwood (“Saturday Night Live”s Bill Hader) remedies his town’s stagnant diet of Sardines with his first successful invention. A contraption that turns the sky’s natural precipitation into raining food from the sky. With this invention he instantly is transformed from an outsider, to the town hero, reaching celebrity status, and giving a weather girl intern, Sam Sparks (Anna Faris) her big lucky break. But all the while, Flint is still seeking approval from the person that matters the most, his father, Tim Lockwood (James Caan).
Much like the United States recent collapse of the economy, the demand of the town’s residents, far out-ways the fulfillment that Flint’s machine can supply to the ever increasing food orders. Ultimately making a town once looked at and admired around the world (China and London included) as a fruitful place, comes crashing down into a literal spiral disastrous end.
The 3-D animated feature takes a closer look at how the town, “Chewandswallow” in the book became the way that it did by giving a back story to the main characters. The two-man team directors and writers, Christopher Miller and Phil Lord took the town name, and gave it an origin of “Swallow Falls”. The town’s mayor, Mayor Shelborune (voiced by Bruce Campbell) is motivated to publicize the commodity of raining food to the world, and changes the name to “Chewandswallow”.
“Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs” begins with an opening credit of “made by a lot of people”. In fact, the movie was made by a crew of 500 people split into departments of animators, actors, and set model makers. Yes, actual mini-sized sets were created for this film. According to Production Designer Justin K. Thompson, and Chief Technology Officer and Visual Effects Supervisor, Rob Bredow, (their first animated feature, “Polar Express”) there was more mini-photography than animation in this movie. They used virtual lights to mimic real-life photography. And, instead of overwhelming audiences with an abundance of 3-D usage, this film does the opposite, and only uses the extreme 3-D effects of objects jumping-out only when needed.
The most memorable and impressive scene in the animated feature required the making of 20 lbs of JELLO (you’ll have to see it for yourself!). A lot of real food testing was done to mimic the real life-like movement of food. Hence, many cheeseburgers and hot dogs were thrown from high distances during the making of this movie!
Fun characters include: Steve the Monkey, Flint’s sidekick (Neil Patrick Harris); “Baby” Brent, the town’s celebrity “has-been” (Andy Samberg); And most memorable, Earl Devereaux, local law enforcement (Mr. T), and Cal Devereaux, Earl’s son, voiced by Bobb’e J. Thompson. Cameos include Al Roker, and the two directors and writers of the film (one as Flint’s failed invention, a “rat-bird”).
After you’ve watched the movie in the theater, you can re-live some of the key scenes over and over again in a specially developed video game for XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. The video game was developed by Sony with the use of the real scale models used to make the movie. Video game version was created for children ages 9-12, but anyone can enjoy the obstacles of the film’s food disasters, which by the way, the movies creators were inspired by real disaster movies. As sci-fi fans, they paid homage to “Independence Day”, “Star Wars”, and “Star Trek” by having actual snippets of scenes from those movies in “Cloudy’. And opposite of the book that had limited color, this movie is very vibrant. As described by the animators, “It’s a comedy first, and a disaster movie second”. It was made to be “more silly so audiences really get a sense that none of the characters will really get hurt”.
Opened Friday, August 14th 2009
Written by: Beth B.
Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds” meets Sam Rami’s” Night of the Living Dead”, with a little bit of “The Day that the Earth Stood Still” is a familiar underlying mix that can’t quite compare to “District 9″.
As stated in a New York times article, first-time director of “District 9″, South African, Neill Blomkamp explained, â€œI was trying to make the science fiction feel vaguely familiar. The South African component would be the alien component.â€
Produced by â€œLord of the Ringsâ€ Peter Jackson, â€œDistrict 9â€ accurately campaigned the pre-release of the filmâ€™s storyline with â€œNo non-humans seatingâ€ reminiscent of â€œto the back of the busâ€, or â€œno coloreds at drinking fountainâ€ signs in earlier times in a segregated United States of America.
The film opens with multiple news reports on the arrival of a stationed alien spaceship over Johannesburg, Africa.. Documentary-style interviews with various reliable sources who have been following the incident over the shipâ€™s twenty year presence. Because the spaceship never opened itâ€™s doors, the residents of Johannesburg go into it by cutting-out a hole in its metal. Once inside, cameras picked-up very malnutritioned alien beings. The town did what any town would do. They rounded-up the creatures and placed them captive in an internment camp, or, â€œDistrict 9â€. A corporate bureaucracy, MNU (Multi-National United) is in charge of ordinance of these camps. The newly married and son of the head of MNU, Wikus (Sharlo Copley) is promoted to be in charge of the â€œDistrict 9â€ on-site investigations and evictions of alien tenants in a process to move them to a different concentration camp.
Through comical, parody-style and quirky interviews with sources as well as Wikus himself, the course of events that take place leading-up to a seemingly irreversible physical and psychological damage done to Witkus, becomes the centerpiece of the story as well as a dramatic turn in the characterâ€™s attitude.
Much of â€œDistrict 9â€ is a movie within a movie. We are watching a documentary at times through the documentarianâ€™s camera lens, and at other times, the making of the documentary, as well as security camera footage. All of this is a montage of clips being pieced together in an effort to explain what happened to Wikus. The inevitable outcome, sure to lead to a “District 9″ sequel.
Extraterrestrials of â€œDistrict 9â€ are aggressive, barbaric, and described by locals as ghetto, thug-like slum and referring to them with a derogatory term they assigned to them, â€œPrawnsâ€.
Among the heaps of bad aliens, a rare jewel is found, a super intelligent alien being working on a resolution to get the aliens back to their home.
This was an exceptionally rare original treat of a movie taking its viewers on an unexpected ride. Though the movie is about inhuman alien beings, it touches on so many real human emotions and issues: compassion, segregation, bigotry, prejudice, fear, and loyalty.
Monsters vs. Aliens
Film opens Friday, March 27, 2009
Written by Cherish Hamutoff
All is not well in the universe in directors, Rob Letterman, and Conrad Vernon â€œMonsters vs. Aliensâ€ in 3D IMAX. When cupie-eyed, human girl, Susan (voiced by Reese Witherspoon) is bowled over by some space gunk on her wedding day, she grows up: one inch shy of 50 feet.
After her immediate capture by the so-top-secret-that-even-if-you-say-the-name-of-the-â€œareaâ€-you-will-be-killed government group headed by General W. R. Monger (Kiefer Sutherland), Susan wakes up in a prison filled with a crew of motley monsters reminiscent of famous movie creatures from the 50â€™s: the half-human, half-insect, but fully brilliant Dr. Cockroach (Hugh Laurie); tough guy – or ape? or fish? – The Missing Link (Will Arnett); indestructible blobby B.O.B (Seth Rogen); and a grub seven times taller than Ginormica (Susanâ€™s new name) â€“ Insectosaurus. When the evil, narcissistic alien Gallaxhar (Rainn Wilson) discovers the missing space gunk is on Earth, he comes â€œin peaceâ€ (meaning: no one will survive). The lightly inept President Hathaway (Stephen Colbert) is without a clue of what to doâ€¦and so the Monsters are called in to fight the Aliens.
When itâ€™s not winking at the audience with its â€œlook how clever we are to reference pop culture jokes, Monsters vs. Aliens is an enjoyable, colorful 3D ride. Kids in the audience gasped and squealed as we seemed to step into the picture and almost get hit by space rocks or a ping-pong paddle. However, as if to get it out of the way, the 3D makes a splash at the beginning and quickly becomes background to the story â€“ a smart choice because it can distract. Animation is top-notch throughout.
Also top-notch is the vocal talent; the cast list reads like an A-list Hollywood party, and they do not disappoint. Witherspoon is moving and funny as our hero Susan/Ginormica. Rogan is sweet in his spaced-out dude, and Colbert makes a brilliant not-so-brilliant President. What does disappoint is how the monsters become so secondary to Ginormicaâ€™s story that they seem to sometimes disappear. They have bits here and there and pop in with a quip, but we never learn much about them or see them really join in the journey. This is Susan/Ginormicaâ€™s story.
Some of the jokes are too jokey and although there are laughs throughout, there are few hilarious moments – it is mostly sweet and hokey. It sets itself up nicely for a sequel, and although it lacks some of the heart or spark or magic of previous DreamWorks pictures, it is a charming picture worth seeing.
RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN:
Film opens Friday, March 13th, 2009
Written by Beth B.
The red carpet will be rolled-out later today at the â€œEl Capitan Theatreâ€ in Hollywood to greet the stars during the premiere of Disney movie â€œRace to Witch Mountainâ€.
Not quite a remake according to writer and director, Andy Fickmanâ€™s interview with â€œdread central.comâ€, but a depiction of â€œwhat this world would be like thirty years laterâ€ after the â€œEscape to Witch Mountainâ€, and â€œReturn From Witch Mountainâ€ films. Both movies made in the mid 1970â€™s.
The story is set in modern-day Las Vegas where the filmâ€™s star, Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a., â€œThe Rockâ€) is an ex-con working as cab driver, Jack Bruno. His daily life is constantly being interrupted with the harassing of shady loan shark thugs. Soon added-on to this, a group of secret service men also closely following his actions, once he becomes involved with the escapades of two aliens disguised as children who enter his cab and life with $15,000 in conquest of a mysterious desert location â€œWitch Mountainâ€ – code name for a secret government installation of a military industrial complex. More or less, like an â€œArea 51â€³.
Dwayne Johnson fighting the good battle in “Race to Witch Mountain”
After being reeled-in to the affairs of the children, simply out of concern because they are children, Bruno soon learns that their mission is to retrieve their crashed ship located at â€œWitch Mountainâ€ in the hands of government officials. Child actors, Anna Sophia Robb (Sara), and Alex Ludwig (Seth) are already building a strong Hollywood resume.
Among all the mix, is also a huge, (bigger than â€œThe Rockâ€) alien â€œPredatorâ€ looking bounty hunter who is sent to capture the children and their downed space craft.
Some of the best sequences in the movie took place at an Alien Convention in a Las Vegas casino.
Here, is where Bruno and the children seek the help of UFO expert, Dr. Alex Friedman, (UFO followers will recognize this name similar to real UFO expert, Stanton Friedman) beautifully played by Carla Gugino (â€Spy Kidsâ€) who also becomes the love interest of Bruno. Great chemistry between these two. UFO geeks, such as myself, will love the cameo by Whitley Strieber (a UFO abductee) in the convention scene.
Other fun cameos and heroic appearances in the film, are made by original child stars from the two previous â€˜Witch Mountainâ€™ movies Kim Richards, who plays waitress, Tina, and Ike Eisenmann who is the local Sheriff. Also, Cheech Marin as an auto mechanic.
Dwayne Johnsonâ€™s performance and the lines he was given in â€˜Raceâ€™ made it quite evident I was watching a childrenâ€™sâ€™ film. The child actors themselves were very convincing and strong. The special effects were realistic including the space ship, which moved at what us UFO followers believe would be at a speed that is faster than the speed of light making it possible to space travel. Great childâ€™s film, which by the way, I noticed the ones in attendance at the screening were glued to the screen, but looses interest for adults with much details and believability lacking.
Watch live coverage of the red carpet arrivals here:
UNDER THE SEA 3D
Jim Carrey Dives Into New Territory!
Opens in theaters February 13th
Written by: Kelly Rockwell
Following the wave of youth-focused environmental awareness movies featuring cold places or penguins comes the refreshingly different 3-D underwater film Under the Sea 3D. Narrated by Jim Carrey in an uncharacteristic and seriously mellow turn, Under the Sea 3D offers a family-friendly science lesson with some truly awe-inspiring underwater footage.
Viewers are first taken to Papua New Guinea, where filmmaker Howard Hall and his crew squeeze in above-water footage of a volcano that happened to be erupting during their expedition. When they finally take their 1,300 pound IMAX camera (and protective waterproof housing) underwater, it unveils an impressive world. Rare and exotic sea life float by in a kaleidoscope of color and with the help of IMAX 3-D, appear to be so close that you could reach out and scare off one of the more skittish fish swimming by.
Unlike many other IMAX films, there is no central character but rather an entire cast of underwater stars that is introduced – a shark, sea snakes, and even unassuming but deadly stone fish. None are a common thread that is carried through the entire length of the less than hour-long feature but they are all part of a large under water community. Making cameos: sea turtles, great white sharks, manta rays and rare, adorable Australian sea lions.
Fun science lessons were included in Under the Sea 3D. Simple ideas like symbiosis between the tiny cleaner wrasse and giant cod are illustrated and explained, as well as the interconnected habitat the animals inhibit. The more delicate topics of the food chain as well as circle of life, death, and procreation, are handled in a responsible manner. A few sequences of fish meeting their unexpected demise were abrupt in the large 3-D format but not scary. Some of the kids in the audience at the end simply said they didnâ€™t like those parts.
By the time viewers are transported to the Australian portion of the â€œCoral Triangleâ€ the environmental lingo becomes more prevalent. Phrases like global temperature rise are used along with images of dead or dying reefs. Some younger movie-goers may not understand this portion as much but it is sprinkled with more fish footage and some very playful sea lions that ham it up for the camera. Are we sure theyâ€™re wild animals? Because they act more like reality TV stars.
Wrapping up with a non-Beatles rendition of Octopusâ€™s Garden was enough for this die-hard fan to cringe at the thought of using that song rather than any thousands of other sea-inspired tunes but, alas, nobodyâ€™s perfect.
The smaller and younger critics were a little less harsh. One said the sea lions were her favorite part while another, right after the credits rolled, turned to the adult with him and said, â€œWell, that was a good movie!â€
Psychics Collide In China!
Film opens Friday, February 6, 2009
Written by Beth B.
An action thriller directed by Paul McGuigan, who describes PUSH on â€œMyspaceâ€ as being about â€œa world of pychicsâ€. Artificially enhanced paranormal operatives have the ability to move objects with their minds (â€Moversâ€), see the future (â€Watchersâ€), create new realities and kill without ever touching their victims (â€Pushersâ€).
Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning in PUSH.
The two main characters that the story revolves around, Nick Gant, a Mover (played by Chris Evans) and Cassie Holmes, a Watcher (Dakota Fanning)are both second generation psychic offspring.
Basically, the film takes-on a very comic book type look and feel, set in China. Thereâ€™s a lot of rumbling, a lot of action-hero type powers, and Chinese mobsters. Some of the happenings and visuals are a little bit reminiscent of â€œBig Trouble in Little Chinaâ€ from the 1980s with Kurt Russell. At least that film was easy to follow and actually took viewers on a comprehensible journey compared to the jumbled awry of events in â€œPushâ€.
The two characters, Nick and Cassie, are trying to stay one-step ahead of a pesky government agency called â€œThe Divisionâ€ whose evil agent, (Djimon Hounsou) is trying at all costs to catch them in order to obtain a potent drug and money. Nick and Cassie must also protect the only girl who knows where the drug and money is, played by Camilla Belle, the new Hollywood â€œitâ€ girl according to Lucky magazine.
The two hour film may have played-out better as a television mini-series. The film makers should have followed in the steps of â€œTakenâ€, a great mini-series (also with Dakota Fanning) by Steven Spielberg about an alien abduction during World War II. My point is, making it a mini-series would have given the story lines more time to develop, and bring the back story involving Nick and Cassieâ€™s parents more into light showing exactly their effects on their children. Also, there just needed to be a stronger explanation of exactly what the â€œDivisionâ€ is and how it works, and why they were all in China. The beginning of the movie was one of the most interesting where it showed a little bit of the governmentâ€™s history and involvement in remote viewing. The psychic power to see events in the future.
According to â€œCoastToCoastamâ€ website, and their interview with researcher, Stephan Schwartz, remote viewers from 1978 correctly predicted the demise of the Soviet Union, global terrorism, AIDS, and virtual reality.. The good news, in the year 2050, genetic engineers have solved most illnesses.
Director, McGuigan also stated in his â€œMyspaceâ€ interview, in reference to the film making:
â€œFor grown people to make this film. Itâ€™s fun. Itâ€™s the best fun I ever had in a movieâ€. Sorry, McGuigan, it wasnâ€™t so much fun to watch it.