Category Archives: Adventure Movies

Tom and Jerry Shiver Me Whiskers (2006) Movie Review

Tom and Jerry Shiver Me Whiskers

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: a Tom and Jerry movie
Starring: Mark Hamill, Kevin Michael Richardson, Wallace Shawn, Kathy Najimy, Charles Nelson Reilly
Director: Scott Jeralds
Release Date: 22 August 2006
Language: English
Length: 74 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: image_thumb82_thumb1_thumb1

Synopsis:

Three rival pirate brothers have been trying to find the treasure of the Spanish “Mane” for years.  When Tom finds a treasure map in a bottle, he has no idea that he has located what the brothers have been searching for.  Red Pirate Ron soon discovers that Tom has the map and he doesn’t hesitate to snatch it from his cat’s grasp.  Meanwhile, Jerry has bargained for his life with Blue Pirate Bob by promising to steal the map from Tom.  Of course, everyone really wants the treasure map for themselves and spend the entire movie trying to double cross and get ahead of everyone else and find the treasure!

Review:

This is one of the earlier feature-length animated films that star Tom and Jerry and I enjoyed it, but I did not think that it was as cute or clever as some of the later films are.  The story is pretty basic, double cross, steal, lie, cheat, whatever it takes to get the treasure and throw off everyone else from following you.  I know, I know, pirates.  What Unhappy Pirateselse was I expecting?  Something more.  This movie was clearly inspired by the very successful Pirates of the Caribbean movies (skeleton pirates, a cursed treasure, a talking skull, etc) and I cannot blame the animators for trying to capitalize on the popularity of the pirate genre afterwards.  Unfortunately, they decided to make a really long version of one of the older Tom and Jerry cartoons where they chase and fight each other for the entire time.  I found that most of the skits were pretty predictable and not very imaginative.  They also did not manage to capture the sly and sneaky aspects of Tom and Jerry’s personalities and they were just a bit bland for some reason.

What made the movie tolerable for me and the other older children was the humor found in several scenes.  Tom and Jerry spend a long time at the beginning stealing the map from each other while trying to dodge an attack dog, parrots, pirates, pirate captains, monkeys, a giant octopus and more.  Jerry is smarter, but Tom is bigger and not afraid to go after what he wants.  The talking skull (voice by Mark Hamill) is not the brightest bulb, but he provides some unwitting comedy as he challenges the treasure seekers with tests they have to pass before they can get to the treasure.  But my favorite characters were the parrots and their owners.  The blue pirate and the red pirate only say “yar!” and their parrot mascots translate for them.  The purple pirate speaks perfectly well and has a parrot that will only say “yar!”.  There is a lot of slapstick, non-verbal comedy and Tom and Jerry do not speak, as is traditional so you have to actually pay attention to what you are watching rather than what you are hearing or you will miss some very funny moments!

The music is a treat, as always.  It plays pretty much continuously through the entire film and really added to the quality of the movie.  The animation is a bit too slick to match the old-fashioned Tom and Jerry Shiver Me Whiskersanimation I am used to seeing, but I quickly got used to it.  If you rent the DVD or buy the movie, make sure that you watch the bonus feature that shows you what happened after the main story ends (a kind of “where are they now” recap) as it is very entertaining.  I enjoyed this movie and it reminded me of how much I loved Tom and Jerry as a child, but it also made me realize that I have moved beyond these cartoons and don’t enjoy all of them as much as I used to.  Still, this movie will be sure to appeal to younger viewers who are looking for a lot of action and obvious laughs.  The story is super easy to follow and Tom and Jerry are quite entertaining with the way that they bait each other.  I still say that there are better, more appealing Tom and Jerry movies out there, though, so shop around to make sure you purchase the best movies for your family.

Content:

This movie contains a lot of slapstick violence and punching, kicking, biting, blowing up, setting on fire, etc. is shown in a funny, comedic way.  The characters never really get injured and do not have any long-term effects from the violence.   The talking skull and skeleton pirates may be a little scary for younger viewers.  Recommended for ages 2 and up.

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Filed under Adventure Movies, Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) Movie Review

Jack the Giant Slayer (2013)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Eleanor Tomlinson, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Ian McShane
Director: Bryan Singer
Release Date: 1 March 2013
Language: English
Length: 114 minutes
Movie Rating: PG-13
View Format: Movie theatre
My Rating: image_thumb83_thumb1_thumb

Synopsis:

When Jack (Nicholas Hoult) tries to sell his uncle’s horse and cart in town, he accidentally trades a monk for a small pouch of magic beans.  Later that evening, one of the beans gets wet and a gigantic beanstalk immediately carries Jack’s house to the land of the giants – with the Princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) inside!  Determined to rescue her, a brave band of adventurers travel up the beanstalk, only to be betrayed by Roderick (Stanley Tucci) who allies with the giants to destroy the land of men. Now the giants are returning to the lands of men once more.

Review:

I was really excited to see this movie, but I must confess that I found the execution a little lacking.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but Jack the Giant Slayer is just missing something.  I loved the way that they reinvented the Jack Climbing the Beanstalkand the Beanstalk story.  They created a whole backstory and a unique way to defeat the giants that made the story more cohesive and interesting.  The movie begins with this new retelling and, while I did not care for the blocky, cheap-looking animation that they used to illustrate the story, it did allow the viewers to dive right into the story.  Strangely, the movie was lacking where I felt it would be the strongest.  All of the human characters were set up and ready to go and then they ascend the beanstalk – where nothing happens.  I hate to say it, but this middle section was kind of Escaping the Giantsboring.  Granted, giants are not the types of creatures that can sneak up on you, but I was expecting to see more magic, more giant objects, more giants!  Yes, there are some clever moments, like meeting the giants named Fee, Fie, Foe and Fum, but where was the magic harp?  Jack walks right past it and they show it on screen, but they don’t do anything with it.  In fact, aside from the giant-controlling crown and the beans themselves, there is no magic in the movie at all.  What a disappointment!

My favorite part of the movie was Ewan McGregor.  He is just as handsome as ever and it was worth paying admission just to get a look at his hair!  Not every Ewan McGregor as Elmontguy can pull off the upswept locks that Ewan McGregor was sporting in this movie, but I really liked it.  Ewan McGregor plays Elmont, captain of the king’s exclusive guard, and was a joy to watch.  Most of the humor in the movie comes from Elmont and it was Ewan McGregor’s dry wit and straight-faced delivery that kept the story feeling light-hearted for me.  Stanley Tucci also does a fine job as the villain, Roderick.  He provides plenty of small laughs and little witticisms that made me smile.  Granted, he was a bit of a fool and I have no idea how he managed to keep his plans to take over the kingdom a secret, but that is why it is dangerous to place so much power in a single man’s hands.  Ewen Bremner plays Wicke, Roderick’s dimwitted henchman and he was hilarious!  He has some great one-liners that were kind of mean and inappropriate, yet funny Jack the Giant Slayer - Ian McShaneat the same time!  I was absolutely delighted to see Ian McShane as King Brahwell.  I am accustomed to seeing Ian McShane in darker, more villainous roles so it was a lot of fun to see him mocking his role as king and the monarchy in general in this film.  Everything he wears is over the top, exaggerated and extremely shiny.  It doesn’t hurt that Ian McShane has a wonderful voice to listen to, as well!  When I heard the two-headed giant leader speaking in the General Fallon and His Gangmovie, I immediately thought – it is Davy Jones versus Blackbeard (in the Pirates of the Caribbean series), who is going to win?!  Bill Nighy plays the voice of General Fallon and he is simply wonderful!  Bill Nighy has such a distinctive voice.  Well-modulated, carefully enunciated with every word bit off like a projectile weapon, his voice sent shivers down my spine as soon as his character came on scene.  Loved it!

Now, unfortunately, the weakest characters in the movie are the leads.  Nicholas Hoult plays Jack, a farm boy who just happens to be in the right place at the right time to save the princess.  I confess that I did not recognize him, but I looked him up afterwards and can see that he is slowly gaining momentum in his career.  When you look at his pictures online, you can tell that Nicholas Hoult is a handsome guy, but he really doesn’t look too great in this movie.  I am not sure if it Nicholas Hoult as Jackwas the camera angles or the haircut, but he was not so attractive.  This was especially noticeable because Ewan McGregor looks great during the entire film and he is getting kicked around, dragged through mud and dirt and even baked in a pie so he should look just as bad as Nicholas Hoult, but he doesn’t.  I don’t know what it is about fantasy films, but they can turn an actors into a gorgeous creature or a normal/borderline-unattractive guy with little middle ground.  Nicholas Hoult may need to work on his camera angles or push a bit more for better styling in his next movie.  Nicholas Hoult was solid, if a bit uninspired with his acting.  Was he believable as a farm boy, yes.  Did I see any JACK THE GIANT SLAYERreason why a princess would fall in love with him?  Not really.  Eleanor Tomlinson plays Princess Isabelle.  She wants to have adventures and spend time amongst her subjects, but her father wants to keep her confined to the palace where she is safe.  Eleanor Tomlinson is pretty enough and sweet, but I didn’t get that great feeling of adventure and spunk that I was waiting for.  She still runs like a girl and somehow manages to stay clean throughout all of the time in the giant realm.  There wasn’t really a spark between these two young actors, but I think that their characters (as written in the story) would have made a good pairing.  I felt like the supporting cast overshadowed these two and carried the film, which was a shame as Jack and Isabelle are in almost every scene.

The CGI and action sequences in Jack the Giant Slayer are stunning.  There are some gorgeous vistas in the giant’s world and the scenes showing the beanstalks growing are simply stunning.  The giants felt real and moved organically.  I Jack-the-Giant-Slayer-imageloved the creative use of extra heads, bone ornaments, crazy hairstyles and variety in head shapes to make the giants more distinctive and individualistic.  The names were clever and the giants were a bit smarter than I gave them credit for.  What they didn’t have was a really interesting living space or any kind of magic.  The music enhanced the action and helped me jump higher in my chair during the startling moments. The music really suited the movie and matched the story and the action very well.  If you enjoy the soundtrack, as I did, stay and listen at the end while the credits roll, but don’t expect any bonuses at the end as there is nothing that plays after the credits finish.

I am worried that Jack the Giant Slayer will struggle to find the right audience, Shiny Shiny Armorwhich is a shame as it is a well-crafted, fun movie to go see.  However, it is a little bit too scary for children, who will be most familiar with the fairy tale and most likely to want to see it, and a bit too uncool for teens to go see because it is a fairy tale.  I found it to be an attractive blend of action, humor and a wonderful fantasy backdrop and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy films, Ewan McGregor or CGI done well.

Content:

This movie contains scenes of death and violence.  The giants eat some humans and you hear the crunching sounds and the body going up to their mouths, but they do not show the actual bite taking place or the inevitable blood gushing that would follow (there is no blood shown, which was really nice!).  Humans are stabbed and fall to their deaths.  Both humans and giants fall off the beanstalk and their crumpled bodies are shown on the ground.  There is a big fight sequence between the giants and the humans at the end and both sides take a lot of damage.  Giants are burned, shot with arrows and stabbed.  Humans are crushed, burned, and thrown to their deaths.  There are some suspenseful scenes that will make you jump as you wait for the action to take place.  There are references towards drunkenness, the plague and marrying a much older man.  Recommended for ages 12 and up.

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Legend of the Lost Tomb (1997) Movie Review

Legend of the Lost Tomb (1997)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Stacy Keach, Brock Pierce, Kimberlee Peterson, Rick Rossovich, Khaled El Sawy
Director: Jonathan Winfrey
Release Date: 1997
Language: English
Length: 90 minutes
Movie Rating: PG-13
View Format: TV
My Rating: image_thumb32_thumb4_thumb

Synopsis:

While excavating near the pyramids, Dr. Leonhardt (Rick Rossovich) uncovers the legendary map of the scorpion, which legend says leads to the golden treasure of Ramses.  Dr. Leonhardt tries to deliver the map to the Egyptian Department of Antiquities, but is kidnapped by Dr. Bent (Stacy Keach), a ruthless archaeologist who finds antiquities so he can sell them on the black market.  Meanwhile, Dr. Leonhardt’s estranged son, John Robie (Brock Pierce) and his new research assistant, Karen Lacy (Kimberlee Peterson), arrive in Cairo and are looking for him.  They stumble across the map of the scorpion and head out to uncover the treasure and rescue John’s dad with Dr. Bent in hot pursuit.

Review:

I love Egypt, especially Egyptian archaeology and legends so I couldn’t pass up a chance to see this movie.  I am grateful that I was able to find Legend of the Lost Tomb on TV, however, as it was terrible!  The only reason why I gave the movie 1 star was because of the lovely settings in Egypt.  The children climb one of the Pyramids, visit the Sphinx and end up in Abu Simbel for the climax.  I am fortunate enough to have had the chance to visit Egypt a few years ago and was Abu Simbelable to see these incredible locations for myself.  The real thing lived up to the pictures and movie images of these amazing sites and then some, which was a welcome change.  It was wonderful to see Abu Simbel again and to dream of the opportunity to climb one of the pyramids.  They no longer allow you to climb on the exterior of the pyramids due to the danger and difficulty involved so it was with a great deal of envy that I saw these two actors atop one of the pyramids (though I don’t think they climbed up on their own!).  The movie captured a bit of the mystery and magic that I enjoyed while I was visiting Egypt.  They also did a decent job showing the chaotic streets and crowded alleys of Cairo.  Unfortunately, these bits are the only thing that I enjoyed in the movie.

The acting was sub par bordering on truly terrible.   Stacy Keach plays a B-movie villain rather admirably.  He didn’t feel like a bad guy in the movie, but he is the driving force behind the Scorpion played by Hamdy Heykal, who kills Dr. Leonhardtpeople through scorpion venom.  Rick Rossovich plays Dr. Leonhardt and he was rather bland in the role.  He seemed to have several opportunities to escape his captors, but never really tried.  I was never quite sure of his convictions and he did not really sell me on his love for his son or his passion for protecting antiquities.  It was Brock Pierce and Kimberlee Peterson who were terrible in this movie.  They play the two children running around trying to find the treasure and were absolutely awful in their Legend of the Lost Tombroles.  Their wardrobe was bad and the rest of the film just got progressively worse from there.  Brock Pierce is supposed to be some kind of skater dude who doesn’t care about his father and offers little to nothing to the film as a whole.  His character doesn’t know anything and doesn’t seem to care about anything.  Brock Pierce spent the majority of the film pouting with his overlarge lips and looking fat in his incredibly oversized clothing.  But if Brock Pierce was annoying, Kimberlee Peterson was grating and almost intolerable.  She is a hypocritical know-it-all who spends all of her time judging others for character flaws that she cannot see in herself.  Her character is also dressed in some extremely unflattering clothing and I did not like her at all.  Salaam, played by Khaled El Sawy, was the only entertaining character in the movie.  He is an undercover agent who is trying to get the treasure for the Egyptian government.  Salaam plays dumb, but he is actually right on top of his assignment.

The acting was poor and the story was singularly uninspired.  I watch and enjoy quite a few low-budget horror and adventure movies that are made-for-TV and I must say that this is one of the worst that I have seen.  It was not quite bad Egyptian Treasure Roomenough to delete without seeing the end and not quite good enough to stop checking the clock to see how much longer it was going to go on.  I stuck with it because I loved the Egyptian scenery and was anticipating a payoff in seeing an incredible Egyptian treasure trove at the end, only to be bitterly disappointed. There was no gold glittering at the end of this awful adventure.  Turns out the treasure was really just the releasing of Ramses’s ka or soul and that this appeared to involve some low-budget eyeball special effects that were weird rather than effective.  I definitely should have gone with my gut and fast-forwarded through the middle to get to the end!

This movie is not readily available on DVD for a reason (though you can watch the entire movie by clicking above).  You can find a few copies available for sale for outrageous sums online, but it is definitely not worth your time, money or effort to pursue a copy of your own.  I cannot imagine anyone enjoying this movie or missing its availability.  Watch a documentary or look up a few pictures of Egyptian landmarks online or at the library instead of watching this dreadful movie.  It will be a great deal more enjoyable!

Content:

This movie contains a few murders.  The dead bodies are shown, but you don’t see the victims actually dying.  There is very little blood as most of the victims die due to scorpion poisoning.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Twister (1996) Movie Review

Twister (1996)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Director: Jan de Bont
Release Date: 10 May 1996
Language: English
Length: 113 minutes
Movie Rating: PG-13
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“In this dizzying, effects-driven drama, two scientists (Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton) chase tornadoes in their quest to record and study them. Taking a backseat to the wild and visually mesmerizing storms are subplots concerning a failing marriage, childhood trauma and corporate ethics. The film received multiple Academy Awards for its spectacular sound and visual effects (including the famous flying cow).” — Netflix.com

Review:

While most special-effects laden movies show their age after a few years, Twister is holding up remarkably well.  The only way you can really tell the age of this movie is the hairstyles and the clothing on a few of the characters.  Every time I see this movie, I am blown away by the terrific special effects!  The tornadoes and debris flying around them are so well done that they look absolutely real.  This is definitely one of the best big-budget disaster/weather movies that I have seen in quite some time!  While the special effects steal the show, the acting is decent and there are a few interesting subplots to further capture our attention.  Just don’t look for a huge storyline here, as the twisters steal every scene they are in and eat up a lot of screen time.

I think that Helen Hunt does an admirable job of playing a scientist Jo Harding, who is obsessed with tornadoes.  She is determined to find a way to detect tornadoes earlier than the current 3-minute warnings that we have as she knows first hand that people need more time to get prepared.  She saw her own father pulled up into a tornado when she was a young girl and has never forgotten that image.  Helen Hunt manages to balance being tough and independent with a soft, vulnerable side that she struggles to keep everyone from seeing.  Bill Paxton plays her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Bill Harding, who had to let Jo go after realizing that she will never be able to move on from losing her father.  He has found a new woman to love and goes back to see Jo only to get her to sign the divorce papers.  That is pretty much the end of the story right there.  I mean, after that, they start working together again to use their specialized machine to get some additional data on how twisters operate.  They start to fall in love again, foil the bad guys (another team trying to get the data before their team), and come up with tremendous success against all odds while alternately chasing and running away from tornadoes.

The other characters in the film were quirky and fun to get to know.  They added some much needed levity to the film, but you don’t get a lot of opportunities to get to know them.  Cary Elwes is underutilized as the lead scientist of the opposing team.  He mainly skulks around in black and tosses around empty threats, while ignoring good advice.  Jami Gertz was hilarious as Bill’s fiancé.  She is a sex therapist and was constantly pulling out her cell phone to help her clients, while concentrating on not getting a hair out of place.  I swear that her hair is so sprayed down that it wouldn’t move under any circumstances!  She is a prim and proper Southern lady who has no idea what her fiancé is really like and is in for a lot of surprises.  Her reactions to the tornadoes and the life-threatening situations she found herself caught in were funny, but also added a nice dose of reality as we all would have felt the same way!  Philip Seymour Hoffman stole the few scenes he was in as an obsessed, uber-geek who was completely consumed with following tornadoes and getting the information.  He wears traditional geek fare (unbuttoned button-down shirts over a t-shirt with cargo shorts) and his hair is crazy!  The scene where he interacts with Jami Gertz and introduces her to what the team does was one of my favorites!  The rest of the team is just as colorful and fun and I wish that we had gotten to spend more time with all of them, rather than focusing almost exclusively on Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton.

If you haven’t seen this movie yet and enjoy action movies, disaster movies or just movies with good special effects, you won’t want to miss this one!  Sure, it is old, but that doesn’t mean it still isn’t good!  Again, the special effects and all of the weather are top-notch and look just as good today as they did when they were first created.  This is a fun movie to rent and enjoy all over again for the first time.

Content:

This movie contains some intense disaster sequences.  Characters and animals die by being sucked up by tornadoes, stabbed by debris and having homes crash in on them.  The tornadoes do a tremendous amount of damage to the countryside, including destroying homes, other buildings, animals, cars, and pretty much anything else in the path of the twister.  There are some fairly intense sequences, but nothing too gory or scary.  There is some blood and a few graphic sequences, but they flash by pretty quickly.  There are some scenes of drinking, strong language and sensuality.  Recommended for ages 12 and up.

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Knight and Day (2010) Movie Review

Knight and Day (2010)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Jordi Mollà
Director: James Mangold
Release Date: 23 June 2010
Language: English
Length: 110 minutes
Movie Rating: PG-13
View Format: Movie Theatre
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Perpetually unlucky in love, June (Cameron Diaz) becomes intrigued by a mysterious man (Tom Cruise), who unexpectedly drags her into a whirlwind adventure involving devious enemies, life-threatening confrontations and a major discovery that may alter the future of humankind. Directed by James Mangold, this exhilarating action-comedy also features Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Maggie Grace and Viola Davis.” — Netflix.com

Review:

Wow.  And I mean wow.  What a great summer blockbuster movie!  This is just what the doctor ordered for an entertaining action thriller.  I enjoyed watching the previews and thought that this movie might be a fun one to watch, but I was not expecting to have such a great time!  I was feeling a little low and needed something to pick up my mood and this was the perfect movie for that.  It started off a little bit slow and I was concerned that it was not going to be such a great show, but I needn’t have worried as the pace picked up about 15 minutes into the movie and then just kept me going the whole time!  The action sequences are well done and pretty classically styled in this movie.  You have a lot of gunfights, car chases and, of course, a killer motorcycle chase.  I mean, come on, when is the last time you saw a Tom Cruise action thriller without a motorcycle chase?  I thought that the action, while relatively unimaginative, was well done and suited the film’s characters.  There are a couple of interesting screen shots, but the cinematography is pretty average, in my opinion.  Still, the director made the car chases and the action on the road memorable and a real thrill to watch!  Make sure to watch your speed on your way home from the theatre or you will find yourself going just a bit too fast, like I was.

The best part of the movie, for me, was the comedy.  I was not expecting to laugh as much as I did during this movie!  There are some great one liners and a lot of funny sequences.  I was really surprised by the chemistry between Cameron Diaz and Tom Cruise as I saw them as a pretty odd pairing, but they really made the romance and the witty banter work between them.  I think that the main complaint that most people will have with this movie is that Tom Cruise’s character is indistinguishable from his other spy characters.  I am reminded of a quote by someone saying that John Wayne played one character his whole career: John Wayne.  There is quite a bit of truth to that with Tom Cruise’s action career, as well, but stick with what you do well and you will succeed.  He was the character that I know and love and expected so I was happy with it.  He is a little bit older and his body is a little bit older, but he is still looking pretty good in this movie!  Cameron Diaz was adorable as a regular tomboy who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.  She finds a way to be cute, bubbly, slightly awkward, but with great instincts and some inherent spy talents.  I loved her in this movie and now have to reevaluate my opinion of her as an actress.  There are also a few standout supporting actors in this movie, including Celia Weston and Jack O’Connell, who play Tom Cruise’s parents.  They are not in the movie for very much of it, but they are hilarious and I loved the way they chose to close out the movie with them!

If you are looking for a great action movie that has plenty of laughs, some good stunt sequences, a delightful romance and just everything you are looking for in a perfect summer movie, look no further than this one!  There is a good chance that you will miss this movie in the theatres as it is sandwiched in between Toy Story 3 and Twilight: Eclipse so take the time to look it up when it comes out on DVD.  This is not only a great action thriller, but it is a funny comedy, a cute romance, and a terrific spy drama.  There really aren’t any surprises here, but the formula is tried and true and they manage to make a memorable, fun movie out of all the pieces.  Don’t miss it!

Content:

This movie involves a lot of violence including gunfights, car chases, motorcycle chases, the running of the bulls, hand-to-hand combat (kicking, punching, karate, boxing, etc.), stabbing, explosions, and being tied up and “questioned” (off screen).  There are also scenes of mild sensuality, some strong language (including the “f” word), drugging people to knock them out, and plenty of double-crossing spy action.  Recommended for ages 13 and up.

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DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990) Movie Review

DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp (1990)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Alan Young, Rip Taylor, Christopher Lloyd, Russi Taylor, Richard Libertini
Director: Bob Hathcock
Series: a DuckTales Movie
Release Date: 3 August 1990
Language: English
Length: 74 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Join Uncle Scrooge (voiced by Alan Young) and the colorful cast of characters from the popular DuckTales series in this action-packed wing-slapping, feather-raising treasure hunt. With his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, and his niece Webbigail Vanderquack (all voiced by Russi Taylor) at his side, everyone’s favorite rich uncle, Scrooge McDuck, treks from his mansion home in Duckburg in search of the long-lost loot of the legendary thief Collie Baba. But finding the goods isn’t quite what it’s “quacked” up to be! Their thrilling adventure leads to comical chaos, magical mayhem and a lesson about what is far more valuable than money, gold and jewels.” — DVD Back Cover

Review:

Wow, did this movie bring back memories for me!  I can remember when this movie first came out when I was a kid, at the height of the DuckTales popularity and we loved this movie!  I was thrilled to find it on DVD and hauled it over to my sister’s house so that we and her children could enjoy watching it again after so many years or to enjoy it for the first time.  The characters are classic: the stingy Uncle Scrooge (voiced by Alan Young) who has been searching for the treasure of Callie Baba for decades and feels like he has finally located the treasure; the klutzy Launchpad McQuack (voiced by Terence McGovern) who is a lot better at crashing than at flying; the mischievous Huey, Dewey and Louie (voiced by Russi Taylor) who have lived up their Uncle Scrooge’s life and who are a lot more help than most kids their age; the young Webigail “Webby” (voiced by Russi Taylor) who lives at Uncle Scrooge’s mansion with her aunt and who loves living there, but is still a little bit too young to understand everything that is going on around her; and Genie (Rip Taylor), the name that Huey, Dewey and Louie give to the genie in the lamp that they find whose dream is to become a real boy.  Then there are the villains: the evil Murlock (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) who is determined to take over the universe by using his special amulet to give him unlimited wishes when attached to the genie’s lamp and his assistant, Dijon (voiced by Richard Libertini), who is bumbling and incompetent, but is really funny!  All of these characters provide so much fun and action that children of all ages will have a wonderful time watching this movie!

There are some great lines in this movie that children (my nieces and nephews loved the one about Launchpad attending a crash-landing lesson instead of flight school) and adults (one of my favorites from back in the day is when Genie is exploring the house and asking what an egg beater is, then uses it as a weapon and says “Back, back you foul eggs!”) will find absolutely hilarious!  I had a wonderful time watching this movie with the little ones and it brought back a lot of memories for me.  The colors are bright, colorful and perfectly suited for the movie.  The villains are scary, but not overly so, and there are plenty of comedic moments to break up the serious ones.  Kids will also have a wonderful time dreaming about what wishes they would wish as they watch Genie grant the wishes of Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.  Do you want the world’s largest ice cream sundae? to have your toys come to life? to get out of a scolding?  You name it, these kids thought of it!

If you have the opportunity to watch this movie either by renting it or buying it, I think that you would have a fun time.  Like most Disney films, this movie will appeal to a wide age range and the whole family can enjoy a grand adventure along with some great laughs.  It is a big difficult to find, unfortunately, and is considered one of the Disney Movie Club’s exclusive movies, but you can find it for sale online through other sellers if you keep an eye out for it.  I just had a ton of fun with this movie and look forward to sharing it with my nieces and nephews for years to come!

Content:

This movie has a few scary sequences with the evil wizard.  My 3-year-old nephew needed to sit with me towards the end where he gets control of the lamp and starts making evil wishes, but the other kids didn’t think it was scary at all.  There are some scenes of mild peril, but they are pretty tame and there is plenty of comedy to break up the tension.  Appropriate for viewers of all ages, recommended for ages 3 and up.

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King Solomon’s Mines (1937) Review

King Solomon’s Mines (1937)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Paul Robeson, Cedric Hardwicke, Roland Young, Anna Lee, John Loder
Director: Robert Stevenson
Release Date: 26 July 1937
Language: English
Length: 80 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Directed by Robert Stevenson, this is the story of a band of British explorers trying to find a missing adventurer who disappeared in search of the legendary diamond treasure known as King Solomon’s Mines. Led by a noble African native, Umbopa, (Paul Robeson), they delve deeper into uncharted territory. Cedric Hardwicke plays Allan Quartermain, the legendary hunter, who has agreed to go along on the quest, and Roland Young stars as Commander Good, another member of the search party. Along the way, they encounter numerous life-threatening situations before being captured by a tribe of natives once ruled by Umbopa, their guide.” — Turner Classic Movies

Review:

This is an old, black-and-white adventure movie that is definitely showing it’s age.  Unfortunately, I found the film quality was a bit blurry in parts and that the movie was not shown to its best effect with a crisp, clear picture.  This was too bad as I could definitely see this movie appealing to young boys and their dreams of adventure and traveling the world.  I confess, I always wish that I had the guts to be a bit more intrepid and adventurous, but I am a bit too cautious for all of that, I’m afraid.  I can remember vaguely remember seeing the other version of King Solomon’s Mines starring Richard Chamberlain, but not a lot of detail.  I can tell you that I remember the newer version focused a lot more on the treasure, whereas this movie focuses mainly on the traveling to get to the treasure.  The few gems that they manage to escape with by the end are almost an accident.

I guess I was a bit disappointed as I am more used to seeing movies like the Indiana Jones series when they are hunting for long-lost historical treasure.  However, I do think that we would not have a series like Indiana Jones if we did not have movies like King Solomon’s Mines.  There were no booby traps, no sudden double crosses or amazingly close escapes.  Instead, there is a story of a trek through some of the most unforgiving terrain to be found in Africa as they try to find the mines from a tattered old map.  I thought that this part of the film was pretty realistic and, while not quite as exciting as what I was hoping to watch, I found this movie interesting and something that inspired the adventurous imaginations of a whole generation of young boys and girls when it was first released.  I especially loved that this movie was filmed on location as it really felt like I was there – but app. 70 years ago! The trek leads up to a battle between factions in a native African tribe, which is supposed to be the climactic point of the film.  The group of explorers spends a lamentably short time in the mines themselves and I felt like, as the movie was entitled King Solomon’s Mines, that we ought to have spent more time in there!

This is a much more character-driven adventure film than the movies that we are accustomed to watching today.  Cedric Hardwicke plays Alan Quartermain, the great hunter who can survive in almost any conditions.  He is supposed to be the strong, silent type so the actor did not have a whole lot to work with, but he did a fine job in this role.  Anna Lee plays the feisty Irish girl who is determined find her father (Arthur Sinclair), even though she is a woman.  I found her a bit distracting, actually, as her Irish accent comes and goes throughout the film.  But I did like her character and I admired her pluckiness and thought she was pretty creative in her methods without insisting on doing everything herself.  Paul Robeson plays a native guide who has a tendency to burst into song at the drop of a hat.  He has a gorgeous voice so this was a lovely, if completely unexpected and rather out of place, touch to the movie.  The two British gentlemen (Roland Young & John Loder) were arguably my favorite characters in the film as they were so self-consciously British and were so out of place that they were pretty funny.  One of the men has the native tribes believing he is some sort of god because his legs are so white and hairy!

I did not enjoy this movie when I first started watching it as I felt it was just too old and contrived, but it really grew on me!  I watched the whole thing and had a fun time, even though this film is a bit dated.  It brought back a whole different era where native peoples were known as savages, diamond mining was the hot get-rich-quick scheme, and big game hunting was very much en vogue.  It was the feel and spirit of the movie that appealed to me more than the story or the characters.  I doubt if you could force any young boy to watch it with you these days, but it would be fun to sit down and watch with a 10-year-old or somewhere around there so they can see what an old adventure movie was like.

Content:

This movie contains some mild violence and some scenes of mild peril.  Appropriate for viewers ages 3 and up.

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Dragon Hunters (2008) Movie Review

Dragon Hunters (2008)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

 

Starring: Forest Whitaker, Rob Paulsen, Mary Matilyn Mouser, Jean-Marc Lentretien
Director: Guillaume Ivernel & Arthur Qwak
Release Date: 20 March 2008
Language: English
Length: 80 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Purporting to be gallant dragon hunters, con artists Lian-Chu and Gwizdo agree to take on the fearsome World Gobbler in the hopes of collecting a huge reward. Fortunately, the brave niece of a real dragon hunter is on hand to give them pointers. Forest Whitaker provides the voice of Lian-Chu and Rob Paulsen voices Gwizdo in this English-language version of the charming and beautifully animated French series.” — Netflix.com

Review:

I found this movie surprisingly enjoyable and don’t really know why I had not heard of it before or missed it when it came out in theatres.  The only reason why I can think that this movie would not do well in the movie theatres is that it is pretty scary and probably did not appeal to kids and their moms.  This is tough as this movie is animated in a CGI style that makes it appear kid friendly.  It is not.  This movie reminded me more of a video game in that there are some scenes of intense, scary action and the dragon/monster/creature is big, makes sudden moves and can be pretty frightening.  As I am an adult with no children, I was totally into the action and had a great time!

The animation is really top notch in this movie and I cannot say enough about the creativity of the world and the unexpected surprises around every corner.  Pieces of the kingdom are literally floating away or being destroyed by the great dragon who has come back to the land.  The king sends out two knights to slay the great beast, having no idea that they are really charlatans who are merely pretending to be knights to get the money.  But then the princess starts tagging along and they have to play their parts.  This leads to a lot of comedy, which helped lighten up the serious plot and made me smile.  I liked the 3 lead characters and found myself rooting for them each to find what they were looking for: Gwizdo to find his courage and stick with his friends even though the going got rough; Lian-chu for the skills needed to save the kingdom and for the heart to believe that he could do it; and Zoe to still believe in heroes and in the best in people even when they let you down.  There are lots of little life lessons that could be learned by watching this movie and I appreciate that the creators slid in some morals, but didn’t spend most of their time dwelling on it.

So this movie is mainly for older viewers, due to some of the intense sequences, but I definitely think that it is worth renting.  There are laughs, frights, adventure and an amazing world to explore and enjoy.  If you have older children at home who are looking for something a little bit more intense than your typical animated movie, you can’t go wrong with this sleeper hit.  I really had a fun time watching it and look forward to seeing it again!

Content:

This movie has a dragon that pops up unexpectedly, shoots flame at everyone, and is known to destroy and/or drive mad any knight who comes to fight him.  Many of the battle sequences and fight scenes will be too intense for young children, even though the animated makes this feature appear kid friendly.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Classic Cartoon Favorites v. 7: Extreme Adventure Fun (2005) Movie Review

Classic Cartoon Favorites v. 7: Extreme Adventure Fun (2005)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

 

Starring: Various
Director: Various
Series: Classic Cartoon Favorites #7
Release Date: 31 May 2005
Language: English
Length: 60 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“In this collection of wacky animated classics from the golden age of Walt Disney Studios, the world’s most beloved cartoon characters gear up for some outdoor adventure. Join Mickey, Goofy and Donald Duck for thrills, spills and laughs in comical escapades that include “Mickey’s Trailer,” “No Sail,” “Good Scouts,” “Hello Aloha,” “Old Sequoia,” “How to Ride a Horse,” “Trailer Horn” and “Two Weeks Vacation.”” — Netflix.com

Review:

“Mickey’s Trailer” – This is one of my favorite cartoons as it is really fun and creative.  Mickey, Donald & Goofy are traveling in a trailer that does just about everything.  Rooms switch over into new rooms, furniture pops out of the floor and the three friends cook breakfast, gather free stuff from outside, eat, take baths, and make their way down the mountain.  Silly and cute with plenty of laughs, this cartoon is always a crowd pleaser.

“No Sail” – Donald & Goofy go sailing, but don’t bring enough nickels to keep the sail up & end up stranded in the middle of the ocean!

“Good Scouts” – Donald takes his 3 nephews camping in Yellowstone Park.  He is the scout master and tries to teach Huey, Dewey and Louie about marching, chopping firewood, tying knots, first aid, and more, but everything backfires on him!  Who is the teacher and who is the student here?

“Hello Aloha” – Goofy is burned out at work and dreams of going on vacation.  He finally takes his vacation time and heads off to Hawaii.  There, he is lulled by the soothing ocean waves, succored by the delicious, free fruit & other food, and has a fun time with the local natives.

“Old Sequoia” – Ranger Donald is supposed to protect a giant sequoia at all costs.  So when a pair of industrious beavers move into his area, he has his hands full trying to protect the huge tree!  Disney fans will recognize that the beavers sound a lot like Chip ‘n Dale – and get pretty much the same results!

“How to Ride a Horse” – Goofy tries to learn how to ride a horse and participate in a foxhunt.

“Trailer Horn” – Chip & Dale discover some stranger footprints in the forest and follow them to Donald’s trailer & car.  There, Dale discovers that Donald’s car has a horn that is absolutely perfect for bouncing on!  Donald doesn’t like the noise, so he kicks Chip & Dale out of his campsite.  The chipmunks get revenge, then it is Donald’s turn – and the battle is on!

“Two Weeks Vacation” – Goofy is thrilled to go on vacation, but he has a hard time getting started.  He gets stuck behind a wide-load trailer, gets a flat tire, has to stop at an auto repair shop, gets turned down by a picky hitchhiker, is caught in a rainstorm in his convertible, and finds that he never even really makes it to his vacation plans!

I have to say that this is my favorite DVD in the Classic Cartoon Favorites collection.  I enjoyed every cartoon and they were all funny and memorable.  Most of them are the “newer” Disney cartoons so there are no really old ones on this DVD like the other ones.  I loved “Mickey’s Trailer,” laughed a lot during “No Sail,” remembered my brothers working on their merit badges in “Good Scouts,” dreamed of going to Hawaii in “Hello Aloha,” had flashbacks to my childhood when we used to go camping all the time and saw the giant trees while watching “Old Sequoia,” enjoyed the classic styling and vocal talents in “How to Ride a Horse,” delighted in the childlike glee that Chip & Dale had in “Trailer Horn,” and empathized with Goofy in “Two Weeks Vacation” as I recalled my drive to work every morning.  Each cartoon evoked a particular memory and made my enjoyment that much deeper while watching these cartoons.  If your children enjoy Disney cartoons, this particular DVD is a must watch – definitely the best in the series!

Content:

These cartoons contain some mild cartoon violence and a scene with people drinking (you can just see their silhouettes and hear the sounds).  Recommended for viewers of all ages.

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Filed under Adventure Movies, Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Comedy Movies

King of the Lost World (2005) Movie Review

King of the Lost World (2005)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

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Starring: Bruce Boxleitner, Jeff Denton, Rhett Giles, Sarah Lieving, Christina Rosenberg
Director: Leigh Scott
Release Date: 13 December 2005
Language: English
Length: 90 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: TV
My Rating: 1/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Television actor Bruce Boxleitner (“Scarecrow and Mrs. King“) stars as the unshakable Professor Challenger in this updated adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s classic novel “The Lost World,” which inspired the blockbuster Jurassic Park. When a plane crashes on a remote tropical island, four survivors emerge from the wreckage to find a prehistoric world untouched by the sands of time. But where will they fall in the food chain?” — Netflix.com

Review:

I thought this movie was pretty awful and could not really find anything that I liked about it.  The group of people is too big to keep track of (way more than 4 people, though that is all that survives to get to the “King”) so you don’t identify with any of the characters and I had a hard time figuring out if people died or disappeared or if I wasn’t keeping very good track of them.  The animals were a big disappointment.  There are some human-eating pods on a vine, some giant scorpions, some dragon-like winged things, and a giant ape.  No dinosaurs so I was very disappointed!  Then there is a cult of humans on the island ruled by a creepy guy who selects human survivors of plane crashes as sacrifices for the dragon-like things so that the ape won’t come to their area.  The king has some way of hypnotizing people or something so that they fall under his power and obey his will.

The plot was nonexistent.  All you have is a group of people trying to find the cockpit of their plane so they can activate the black box signal.  Along the way, they wander into all kinds of danger and leave their group splintered and vulnerable.  I didn’t think the acting was very good and I wasn’t terribly impressed with the special effects.  I was particularly disappointed in the creatures in the movie – I did not feel like they were animated very well and were not that scary or believable.  This was a complete and total waste of time for me.  Give it a miss if you are even thinking about watching it.

Content:

This movie contains a lot of dying and violence.  People are eaten, crushed, trapped, enslaved, and tortured by other humans and monsters on the island.  Most of the effects are pretty laughable, but this movie is a bit too scary for younger viewers.  I watched this movie on TV so I am not sure how bad the language is, but I could tell that they bleeped out some words to make it TV appropriate.  Also, if you rent this on DVD, there is apparently a nude scene so be aware that, if you rent this movie on DVD, it is for viewers ages 18 and up.  Recommended for ages 10 and up if you catch it on TV.

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