Category Archives: Science Fiction Movies

Earth to Echo (2014) Movie Review

Earth to Echo

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt, Jason Gray-Stanford
Director: Dave Green
Release Date: 2 July 2014
Language: English
Length: 91 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: DVD
My Rating

Synopsis:

“ When a construction project begins in their neighborhood, four friends (Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig, Ella Wahlestedt) start receiving bizarre encoded text messages on their cell phones. Setting out to find the origin of the texts, the group stumbles on an astonishing answer. ” — Netflix.com

Review:

I was disappointed with this movie.  I thought the previews looked like fun and was expecting an action-packed sci-fi adventure only to find a amateurish, unfulfilling mess.  Echo is a cute little alien who ends up Earth to Echo Movie Posterstranded on Earth and needs help repairing his ship to go home.  He communicates through our cell phone technology.  For some reason, he targets three friends (Teo Halm, Astro, Reese Hartwig) in a neighborhood that has been taken over by eminent domain to make room for a government project.  I was expecting the movie to take off from there and be a rip-roaring Goonies-like adventure with an alien thrown in or maybe an intense alien thriller with child stars like Super 8, but I felt like I was watching someone’s home movie instead.  The camera was really shaky.  I know that it was supposed to make us feel like we were part of the action, but I still think it is an unprofessional choice for a major motion picture.  If you are a brand new filmmaker and making your first movie, maybe I will give it to you, but Earth to Echo was released by Disney and I am used to a higher quality product.

The CGI on Echo was good, when he was shown, which was infrequent.  The child actors did a fine job, but I hated the ending and felt like the whole movie was pointless.  Ella Wahlestedt is thrown in the mix as a the token hot girl whom one of the boys like and this opened up the action to some more mature content than I was expecting.  The kids are hanging out in bars and the action took us to some teen parties with drinking and making out.  I was a bit surprised as I thought that the movie was targeted to preteens as a sci-fi action thriller just for their age group.  It would have been a stronger film if they focused on the group being split up, but getting together to help Echo, which someone changed their situation.

I watched this movie at home with my sister, her husband and their five children.  While I did not care for the movie and would have returned it Earth to Echo Skylinemostly unwatched, the rest of the group was much more interested and watched the whole movie without interruption.  The children, in particular, seemed riveted on the movie so maybe I am being too harsh.  This might be a case of the movie really hitting its target demographic as my nieces and nephews are 12, 11, 10, 9 and 4 and they seemed to enjoy the whole movie.  If you have children at home, they may enjoy this movie, but I feel that there are many better movies out there to watch with your children.

Content:

This movie contains some scenes of drinking, smoking, and underage partying with teenagers drinking and making out.  The kids break a lot of laws to help Echo, lie to their parents and are running around at night to try to get Echo’s ship repaired.  Recommended for ages 8 and up.

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Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000) Movie Review

Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders (2000)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Series: a Scooby-Doo Movie
Starring: Scott Innes, Mary Kay Bergman, Frank Welker, B.J. Ward, Jeff Bennett
Director: Jim Stenstrum
Release Date: 3 October 2000
Language: English
Length: 74 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: DVD
My Ratingimage_thumb83_thumb1_thumb

Related Reviews: Scooby-Doo Pirates Ahoy!; Scooby-Doo and the Cyber Chase; Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy?; Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster

Synopsis:

When the Mystery Machine breaks down, Scooby and the gang have no choice but to wait for the mechanic in a small town to find the time to repair it.  While bunking with a crazy old dude, they learn about the aliens that are haunting the area.  The aliens are stealing cattle, flickering strange lights and even experimenting on a few locals!  Fred, Daphne and Velma are on the case, but Scooby and Shaggy are too busy falling in love to notice a few aliens in town.  Will Shaggy and Scooby find true love or will the aliens take over the area permanently?

Review:

I enjoy watching these Scooby-Doo animated movies from the early 2000s Scooby, Shaggy and the Aliensbecause you are never sure if the monsters are going to be real or not.  Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders features both.  There are a group of humans pretending to be aliens to cover up their get-rich-quick scheme and there are some real aliens masquerading as humans – it is up to you to figure out their identities!  The aliens are very well done and strike the right chord between menacing and not-Crystal Alienstoo-scary.  Some aliens are green with full spacesuits, spaceships and an operating room to scare the local humans.  Other aliens are crystalline and sparkly.  Both types have their own special abilities and appear suddenly throughout the movie.  I loved the juxtaposition of the aliens in the desert.  I Desert Landscapethink the contrast between small-town America in a bleak, relatively barren landscape and the high-tech alien culture was very well-presented and well animated.  The only complaint I had was that Fred, Daphne and Velma looked pretty dorky in their summer vacation gear, but it was a funny kind of dorky so I just went with it.  I love watching hand-drawn animation and really miss it with all of the CGI that they use now to create animated feature films!

The vocal talents in this movie were spot on.  I typically have some complaints about the vocal selections as I miss the original voices from the Scooby-Doo Some Dorky Outfits on the Leftcartoon series, but these were really quite good.  Scott Innes plays the voice of Scooby and Shaggy, Mary Kay Bergman is Daphne, Frank Welker is Fred, B.J. Ward is Velma, and Crystal and Amber are played by Candi Milo.  Crystal is Shaggy’s love interest and Amber is Scooby’s.  For the first time, Shaggy and Scooby are too in love to even worry about food!  This plotline was Crystal and Amberby far the most entertaining one in the movie and made this Scooby-Doo movies better than many of the others.  Crystal is a flower-power child, just like Shaggy.  She wears bellbottom jeans, a headband and seems stuck in the 1960s.  Her dog, Amber, seems pretty snooty at first, but Scooby soon wins her over with his clumsy charm.  There is an Scooby and Shaggy Scare Off the Villainsadorable song in the movie entitled “Groovy” (see video clip above) that Shaggy sings about Crystal and it was so cute!  They sing about pretending it is still 1969 (the year Scooby-Doo debuted), buying a cute little home and having children (both human and puppies).  I was so happy to see Shaggy find a love interest for once!  Scooby and Shaggy really came through for Crystal and Amber at a critical time and I was thrilled to see these two purposefully save the day for once!

Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders features bright animation, crazy characters, interesting villains, a fun mystery to solve and lots of laughs!  I could not stop Lester, Scooby, Dottie and Shaggygiggling while I was watching this movie and all of the kids enjoyed it, too.  It is only a bit over an hour in length so it is pretty fast paced and there is not very much down time.  You won’t want to miss old Lester (voice by Jeff Bennett), who paints pictures of the aliens and is happy to show them to anyone and Dottie (voice by Jennifer Hale), who is infatuated with Fred and keeps trying to flirt with him at the local diner!  These two were some really funny characters and helped keep everyone smiling.  If you are a Scooby-Doo fan, young or old, I am confident that you will enjoy this cartoon.

Content:

This movie features a few mildly scary scenes with the aliens, but Scooby and the gang always escape and no one gets hurt.  There are a few scenes of cartoon violence.  Recommended for ages 3 and up.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Science Fiction Movies

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011) Movie Review

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid (2011)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Deborah Gibson, Tiffany, A Martinez, Kathryn Joosten, Kevin M. Horton
Director: Mary Lambert
Release Date: 29 January 2011
Language: English
Length: 90 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 1/5 stars

Synopsis:

Welcome to the Everglades, a wild and fragile ecosystem known for its alligators and exotic foliage.  Introduce a new animal into this environment and everything changes.  Dr. Nikki Riley (Deborah Gibson) liberated several pythons from a nearby laboratory and released them into the wild.  She believes that snakes are the top predators in any environment they live in and loves snakes more than anything.  Believing that nature will equalize itself, Nikki doesn’t understand why Ranger Terry O’Hara (Tiffany) is so upset about the decreasing gator population and the two butt heads almost immediately.  When Terry loses her fiancé, Justin (Carey Van Dyke), to a vicious attack by giant snakes, Terry takes matters into her own hands and pumps some gators full of illegal steroids and other substances so they can hold their own against the mega pythons.  Months later, these reptiles start invading Miami and it is up to Nikki, Terry and Dr. Diego Ortiz (A Martinez) to get rid of them before they destroy all of mankind!

Review:

I was excited to see this movie, but I was very disappointed.  I think it is one of the worst Syfy movies that I have seen to date!  I thought that the special effects in this creature feature would be a no brainer, as you just blowing up regular animals to large sizes, but they did a very poor job here.  I did not find the animals believable at all!  And the plot was so tissue thin that it could not hold up to anything!  The paragraph written above includes everything that happens in the plot in just a few sentences.  This was tremendously disappointing as there are so many other slants that they could have chosen to bring something more substantial to the plot.  Protecting the Everglades, the impact of introducing foreign animals or plants to nonnative environments, radical testing on animals in private labs, the clash between hunters and environmentalists, any of these themes plus several more could have elevated this movie into something a touch better than this dismal effort.

I initially tuned into this movie to see the clash between Deborah Gibson & Tiffany and I was not disappointed in the epic battle between these two at a fundraiser.  They are rolling around on tables, throwing food at each other, and even take their fight into the nearby water!  Of course, it was obvious that the whole thing was staged as both women were wearing gowns that would not have held up to such strenuous activity, but it looked like a lot of fun to watch and participate in.  Other than that, I found both “actresses” to be sadly lacking in their roles.  Overly strident and completely unbelievable in their roles, I did not enjoy either one of them.  They could not deliver their lines in a convincing manner and did not do anything to contribute to the film.  Also, I think that Deborah Gibson did something to offend the wardrobe people as she looked terrible here!  It is true that she is still relatively thin and looks pretty good for her age, but the outfits they put her in – including the ghastly white cocktail frock she wore for about half of the movie – were extremely unflattering.  With a very small bust, no waist to speak of and that rather desperate air that women of a certain age get, I felt like she was trying too hard.  I would have been too embarrassed to wear clothing like this unless my character called for it and Deborah Gibson’s character did not call for it.  In comparison, the voluptuous and busty Tiffany was shown off very well in a v-necked, lace-edge gown that made her look sexy without exposing too much.

A Martinez plays Dr. Diego Ortiz, a Native American ornithologist who is the voice of gloom and doom in the movie.  Naturally, no one listens to him and he has to find a way to save the day almost single-handedly at the end.  Kathryn Joosten as Angie was my favorite in the movie.  She is a crusty old ranger who gives off the vibe of having seen and done it all.  Angie tries to hold back Terry, but does a very poor job of it and doesn’t realize the seriousness of the situation until far too late.  RJ Cupelli (Kevin M. Horton) is Terry’s other ranger and he is a very young, perpetually happy young man who has no idea what is going on around him.  The hunters in the movie are a hoot.  They are a bunch of good old boy rednecks who provide a lot of cannon fodder for the movie.  You never really get names for them, but they are out hunting the snakes, never realizing that they are being hunted in return.  No one is what you would call a believable actor in this film, but with a budget this low, I am not surprised.

I was really disappointed with this movie and kept waiting for something to happen that would make it better.  Alas, such was not the case and I was doomed to be disappointed for the entire hour and a half that I wasted watching this schlock.  Still, there is a lot to laugh at and you can get a group of people together late at night to giggle over the absolutely terrible movie that this turned out to be.

Content:

This movie contains giant snakes and giant alligators battling each other and eating each other.  They also eat people and there are body parts, including heads, that are found scattered throughout the swamps.  People are eaten alive and struggle in animals’ mouths.  There is a lot of blood, screaming and violence.  There are some fights between people, gunfire, drinking and mild language.  Recommended for ages 10 and up.

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Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001) Movie Review

Scooby Doo and the Cyber Chase (2001)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

 

Starring: Scott Innes, Grey DeLisle, B.J. Ward, Frank Welker, Gary Anthony Sturgis
Director: Jim Stenstrum
Series: a Scooby Doo! Movie
Release Date: 9 October 2001
Language: English
Length: 75 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Related Reviews: Scooby-Doo: Pirates Ahoy!; Scooby-Doo in Where’s My Mummy?; Scooby-Doo and the Loch Ness Monster; Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders

Synopsis:

“It’s a race to escape when Scooby-Doo (Scott Innes) and his friends get stuck inside a video game. While sneaking a peek at a laser game based on their own adventures, Scooby and the Mystery Inc. gang are beamed inside the program by a mayhem-causing, menacing monster known as the Phantom Virus (Gary Anthony Sturgis). Now, the game must advance successfully through all 10 levels and defeat the virus if Shaggy (Scott Innes), Freddy (Frank Welker), Daphne (Grey DeLisle) and Velma (B.J. Ward) ever plan to see the real world again.” — Netflix.com

Review:

This is a great, action-packed movie in the Scooby Doo series!  Scooby (Scott Innes) and the gang are accidentally zapped into a computer game, along with the evil computer virus, and must battle their way through each game level to get home!  They begin on the moon using the lack of gravity to travel around and find the magic Scooby Snax box; next round they fight undead gladiators in ancient Rome and literally snatch the box from a lion’s jaws; back to the far-past to battle dinosaurs, survive erupting volcanoes and save baby pterodactyls to get the box.  The gang then blitzes through multiple locations including deep-sea scuba diving, battling ancient samurais and climbing poles in the Antarctic to their final location in Coolsville where they meet themselves!  I loved all of the different settings and thought that this movie was a clever way of using several different ideas that wouldn’t necessarily work for a feature-length movie.  Also, it is pretty much guaranteed that everyone will be able to find one game level that they think is cool and that they enjoy.  My favorite part was the dinosaur level, but I really loved the final level in Coolsville, too!

For die-hard Scooby Doo fans, the final level of the game in Coolsville will be a lot of fun to watch.  They bring back several classic monsters from the past including the mud monster, the Brazlian jaguar, Old Ironsides, and many more.  All of the gang team up with the real character and the computer character so it was fun to see doubles of everyone.  You have the “real” character, which is more current and updated and the classic character, dressed in the iconic costumes that we all know and love from the early episodes.  By pairing up into duos, they were able to inspire themselves to greatness and to be a bit braver than they usually are.  I was particularly impressed with Scooby-Doo as he set out to save the day – on purpose – and actually achieved it!  There are lots of clever, fun details throughout the movie that will enable viewers to pinpoint who the villain is who actually zapped the gang into the computer game in the first place.

This is a really fast-paced movie that has a lot going on and so kids won’t get bored.  Everything is brightly animated and there are plenty of corny jokes to bring a smile to your face.  I did not care for the voice talents that were used in this movie, particularly Shaggy & Scooby’s voices (Scott Innes), but I enjoyed the movie so I had to just suck it up and deal with it.  I think that this movie will be a popular favorite with younger viewers as there is a lot of action, a lot of scene changes and not a lot of plot going on.  Scooby Doo fans will definitely enjoy this fun film.

Content:

This movie contains a lot of stylized fighting between animated characters.  Most of it is pretty funny and not at all serious and the gang would definitely run away rather than fight when given the choice.  There are some scary moments when a T Rex is chasing the characters, undead gladiators are trying to kill them with weapons, etc., but only the youngest of viewers will be worried.  Recommended for ages 3 and up.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Comedy Movies, Fantasy Movies, Mystery Movies, Science Fiction Movies

The Terminator (1984) Movie Review

The Terminator (1984)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen
Director: James Cameron
Series: Terminator #1
Release Date: 26 October 1984
Language: English
Length: 108 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“In the post-apocalyptic future, reigning tyrannical supercomputers teleport a cyborg assassin known as the “Terminator” (Arnold Schwarzenegger) back to 1984 to snuff Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose unborn son is destined to lead insurgents against 21st century mechanical hegemony. Meanwhile, the human-resistance movement dispatches a lone warrior (Michael Biehn) to safeguard Sarah. Can he stop the virtually indestructible killing machine?” — Netflix.com

Review:

I think this is the first time that I have watched The Terminator all the way through.  I have seen bits and pieces through the years, but never its entirety.  It was definitely worth watching!  It is true that this movie is a little dated, but the sci fi elements have stood the test of time.  The styling is classic ’80s in the hair, clothes and makeup.  This was a lot of fun to giggle at and to remember when we all used to look that dorky, but the best part of the movie was the storyline.  This first Terminator movie is one of the forerunners of our modern-day science fiction movies.  Before this time, the sci fi movies were generally B-grade, cheaply made and widely mocked.  Movies such as this one helped turn the tide and bring moviegoers into the theatre to see great science fiction films.

The movie’s storyline is classic: a man comes back from the future to find the woman who will birth the leader of the resistance movement and protect her from the cyborg sent by the machines.  I say classic, but I don’t know how many times the men vs. machines war had been utilized up to this point.  Now, of course, we have a lot of science fiction movies that use this storyline, but this movie still seems pretty classic.  It also begs the question of whether the cyborg & revolutionary caused the events in the future or if, like they said in the movie, it was just the start of many possible futures that could happen.

Along with the great storyline and flashback styling, this movie has some pretty terrific action sequences involving car chases and shootouts.  Arnold Schwarzenegger really was the man back then and, dude, I would not have wanted to get in his way!  He had a great, steely-eyed look and was muscle-packed.  The scene where he, as a cyborg, repaired his arm still looks amazingly current as far as special effects are concerned.  Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), the revolutionary from the future, was a great character, but I wanted him to have a longer life and more opportunities.  I was kind of surprised that he didn’t marvel more at the inert machines, the lush greenery in the country and other things that the future no longer held, but I guess he was pretty focused on his mission.  Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), the woman they both are hunting, was a bit too mousy for my tastes, but at least she listed to most of the advice that they gave her in trying to save her life.  So really, the acting is quite good in this movie and elevated this movie into something special that would kick of a successful franchise, a TV series, and several classic movie lines that are quoted to this day (“I’ll be back.”).

This movie is a little dated, but still is very entertaining to watch.  If you have not seen the first movie in the Terminator series, you definitely should.  The special effects still look pretty believable and the action sequences are pretty good, it is the styling and technology that dates it.  Still, I understand now why this movie is considered a classic and had a fun time watching it.

Content:

This movie contains lots of violence, gunshots, car chases, and dead bodies.  The blood and bodies are shown on screen, but not in an overly gruesome way.  There is some strong language, drinking, smoking, references to drug use, and some sensual scenes.  If you catch this movie on TV, it is recommended for ages 13 and up, if you rent this movie on DVD, it is recommended for ages 17 and up.

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Aliens (1986) Movie Review

Aliens (1986)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

 

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Lance Henriksen, Paul Reiser, Carrie Henn
Director: James Cameron
Series: Alien Movie Series #2
Release Date: 18 July 1986
Language: English
Length: 137 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4/5 stars

Synopsis:

“In this acclaimed sequel, the only survivor from the first film, Lt. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), finds her horrific account of her crew’s fate is met with skepticism – until the disappearance of colonists on LV-426 prompts a team of high-tech Marines to investigate. This special edition features an introduction by director James Cameron, commentary by cast and crew members and both the theatrical and special edition versions of the film.” — Netflix.com

Review:

I was pleasantly surprised by how well this movie has held up!  It is 25 years old, but it could have been released just recently.  The special effects and the creatures are done really well and James Cameron was very forward thinking when he made this film.  The plot line is more than you usually get from a science fiction action/thriller and I appreciated that they put an actual plot in there.  As you watch the film, you will soon discover plot twists, unexpected betrayals, government lies and a web of deception.  It is ironic that all of the guys chose not to listen to Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) as she probably could have kept just about everyone alive if they had listened to her instead of labeling her a paranoid lunatic.

The acting is top notch in this movie.  Sigourney Weaver is excellent in her role and she really believes in her character and is confident in what she can do.  Because she believes in Ripley, I believed in Ripley.  It is so great to see a strong female lead in an action movie like this who is able to be an asset to the team and not just someone to rescue!  I thought that the group of Marines did an able job in their roles, too.  They had a kind of cocky confidence and bravado as they started the mission that slowly declined for most of them as they realized what they were up against.  For once, I was able to keep most of them straight and could keep track of what was going on.  It was great that they tried to set up the characters so that each soldier was unique instead of just as a group of nameless/faceless cannon fodder.

As I said before, the special effects are excellent in this movie.  It is difficult to believe that this movie is as old as it as it wears its age very lightly.  If you are looking for a great high-octane, science-fiction thriller that features unstoppable aliens, this is a great one to check out.  Indeed, the whole series is well worth checking out as they are all made very well.  Definitely take the time to rent these films or to catch them on TV if you enjoy good science fiction movies.

Content:

This movie features a lot of death, including gory and violent scenes.  Alien creatures explode out of the human abdominal, people catch on fire, heads are snapped off by aliens and a lot of humans die or are kept just barely alive so that they can act as alien baby incubators.  There is a lot of fighting including substantial gunfire and explosions.  I watched this movie on TV so the language was kept to a minimum, but there was a lot of bleeping so I know that there is a lot of strong language in this movie.  Recommended for ages 13 and up if you catch it on TV, 17 and up if you rent it on DVD.

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Jetsons: The Movie (1990) Movie Review

Jetsons: The Movie (1990)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

 

Starring: George O’Hanlon, Mel Blanc, Penny Singleton, Tiffany, Patric Zimmerman
Director: Joseph Barbera & William Hanna
Series: a Jetsons Movie
Release Date: 6 July 1990
Language: English
Length: 82 minutes
Movie Rating: G
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

“George Jetson (voiced by George O’Hanlon) moves his family to the far reaches of outer space as the newly minted head of Mr. Spacely’s (Mel Blanc) Orbiting Ore Asteroid factory in this feature-length animated film based on the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Aside from George, nobody’s happy about leaving the comforts of home behind, but they quickly adjust – especially Judy (1980s pop star Tiffany), who falls for an intergalactic rock star!” — Netflix.com

Review:

I found this movie surprisingly entertaining.  I had very low expectations, of course, as most of these cartoon movies are not very well done, but this one was really cute.  I didn’t pay a lot of attention to the description as I already knew that I liked the Jetsons cartoons so I figured that the movie couldn’t be too bad so I did not notice that Tiffany does the voice of Judy Jetson (the daughter).  This was great as there was a lot of music in this movie and it was a lot of fun to get a more musical Jetsons movie!  I wouldn’t say that any of the songs were super fantastic or even really memorable, but they added some fun elements to the movie.

The storyline was cute and I appreciated the fact that there actually was a storyline.  They also did a good job with the vocal talent.  I am not sure if they were able to get the original actors or just people who sounded a lot like them (aside from Judy, of course, as her voice was a lot lower in this movie than I am used to as Tiffany did her voice) so that was nice to feel comfortable with the characters right away.

I also loved the little funny things that they added into the movie.  Sure technology has come a long way and there are a lot of great innovations that have come forward, but there are still traffic jams on the way to work, smog that you want to try and be above, choking on your food, having a hard time awakening in the morning, etc.  There are aliens including little cute fuzzy guys & multicolored humanoids so there are unique sci fi aspects to the movie as well.

I watched this movie through Netflix.com‘s watch instantly feature and really enjoyed myself.  If you have a Netflix account, this is a fun pick for kids and those of us who grew up with the Jetsons when we were younger!  I think it is even a decent rental at the video store if you go that route.  Bottom line, nothing unique or spectacular, but a fun & funny movie.

Content:

Appropriate for viewers of all ages.

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Filed under Action Movies, Biopic Movies, Children & Family Movies, Science Fiction Movies, Sports Movies

Astro Boy (2009) Movie Review

Astro Boy (2009)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

 

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Donald Sutherland, Freddie Highmore, Kristen Bell, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: David Bowers
Release Date: 23 October 2009
Language: English
Length: 94 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: DVD
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis:

“Astro Boy (voiced by Freddie Highmore), a young robot created by Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage), embarks on a dangerous odyssey, navigating unknown territory in search of purpose before returning home to save his loved ones. Metro City is desperately in need of a hero who has extraordinary superpowers like x-ray vision, remarkable speed and the ability to fly in this sci-fi anime based on Osamu Tezuka‘s manga.” — Netflix.com

Review:

I mainly rented this movie for my nephews as I thought it would be a cute CGI, sci fi movie that would appeal to a big age range (4 – 12).  And I was correct!  They did enjoy it.  I wish I could say the same. While I was watching this movie, I had this niggling little notion in the back of my mind that I had seen this story somewhere before…  Boy created by father to replace dead son, check.  Father repulsed by robot who thinks he is really his son and kicks him out, check.  Robot boy ends up on the surface of Earth with all of the rest of the trash and meets renegade robots trying to keep robots alive and out of human hands, check.  Programming to prevent robots from harming humans, check.  Robots refurbished and used to fight to the death for human entertainment, check.  It wasn’t until this last one happened that I realized I was watching an animated version of A.I..  And I was pissed.  I didn’t like the live action version and now I was tricked into watching another version!  I am such a sucker, I just can’t turn a movie off!

That stupid A.I. movie turned me off of science fiction films for a while.  What part of programmed to love you forever did you not understand?  Hello, if you cannot take the responsibility, don’t make the choice.  I guess it just goes to show that you should make people wait several years until the initial bereavement is past and then let them make a robotic counterpart.  I don’t know, I just don’t like it.  Clearly humans are scum of the Earth and will treat any underling poorly – no matter whether they are manufactured or born just like the rest of us!  I always find these movies really depressing as I don’t like to think that our future is going to end up so depressing and repressive.  There is always a huge chasm between the haves and have nots and the robots are sentient, but not treated as such.

So, yeah, I was furious that I was watching this pint-sized version of a movie that really bugged me, but my nephews had a great time.  The animation is bright, colorful and well done.  There is plenty of action and lots of cool fighting sequences. The soundtrack is quite nice, too.  The voice overs were well done, though some of the voices (Nicolas Cage & Donald Sutherland) were so distinctive that I kept picturing their faces in my mind instead of paying attention to their CGI characters.

I am happy to say that the movie redeemed itself a bit by having a “happy” ending.  After the robot fighting, the plot changed a bit and made the movie bearable.  I was hoping for a manufactured super hero movie and I kind of got that, but not really.  There are some pretty deep themes in this movie and children may or may not pick up on them.  For example, what makes a human human?  How much value does a human creation have?  If you have the knowledge and ability to create something, should you?  So yeah, most little kids won’t even notice that these issues are being discussed and they won’t understand the difference between Astro Boy and the other robots so they will just enjoy it for what it is.  If you have little boys at home, they will probably love this movie.  If you watched A.I. and didn’t particularly care for it, let your kids watch it without you.

Content:

This movie features lots of fighting, action-style violence, robots being crushed and destroyed, humans being eaten up by robots (they just kind of get sucked in), some adult issues and topics (see paragraph above about creation and what makes a human human), but there is no blood or gore.  The little boy that Astro Boy is patterned after dies at the beginning so this may be disturbing for younger children.  Be prepared to be on hand to answer questions or to offer comfort and explanations.  Recommended for ages 5 and up, but probably best for ages 8 and up.

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Lilo & Stitch (2002) Movie Review

Lilo & Stitch (2002)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

 

Starring: Daveigh Chase, Chris Sanders, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Kevin McDonald, Ving Rhames
Director: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
Series: Lilo & Stitch Movie #1
Release Date: 21 June 2002
Language: English
Length: 85 minutes
Movie Rating: PG
View Format: TV
My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Synopsis:

Disney‘s song-filled, Oscar-nominated animated comedy follows a lonely Hawaiian girl named Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) who’s being raised by her older sister, Nani (Tia Carrere), under the watch of social worker Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames). When Lilo adopts a funny-looking dog (Chris Sanders) and names him “Stitch,” she doesn’t realize her new best friend is a wacky extraterrestrial created by mad scientist Dr. Jumba (David Ogden Stiers).” — Netflix.com

Review:

I was determined not to like this movie when it was first released.  I thought that it looked way too weird to be good and that Disney was trying too hard.  Why didn’t they just stick to what they are best at – fairy tales?  Anyway, by the time it was released into theatres, I was so sick about hearing about it and seeing sneak previews that I didn’t even want to go see it, but my friends wanted to go and I am a true Disney fan, so I went.  Surprisingly enough, I really enjoyed this original story.  It is very different than anything else that Disney has done, but I think it is a good thing!  You can really tell how creative and imaginative some of the people working at Disney are!

Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) is such a wonderful little girl.  She is kind of klutzy and bad things have a tendency to happen around her, but she is trying so hard to be a good girl.  I love that she constantly sees the good in people, even when they don’t deserve it.  I love Stitch (voiced by Chris Sanders) in this movie!  He is a monster, but is just so adorable!  He cannot always suppress his evil tendencies, but I love that he starts to try to be good and to be a part of the family and the end of the film.  Stitch’s creator, the evil genius Dr. Jumba (voiced by David Ogden Stiers), is a riot.  He doesn’t even try to be good and has his own way of doing things, usually by making up his own rules.  Agent Pleakley (voiced by Kevin McDonald) is a very unique character.  He is pretty funny as he is trying to protect the mosquitoes on earth, and who the heck would miss those little pests?!  He is a cross-dresser and a bit different and I know that some moms had issues with his character.  Was it needed, probably not.  Did it detract from my enjoyment, no.  Agent Bubbles (voiced by Ving Rhames) was my favorite character in the movie, though, as a tough kind of “Men-in-Black” social services agent.  He has this wonderful deep voice and has a great way of expressing himself.

This is not your typical cutsey, fairy-tale with a happily-ever-after ending, but it is a fun, spirited adventure that I think families will love.  It is set in Hawaii and I love the way that they chose to animate it.  Everything was well thought out with curvy lines, bigger people and lots and lots of color.  They use some unique ideals about Polynesian culture and really have fun with it.  This animated feature wormed its way into my heart and I enjoy watching it from time to time.  If you enjoy this movie, you will also have a fun time with Lilo & Stitch: The Series, which is on The Disney Channel.  I am happy to know that Lilo & Stitch are still running around, having adventures, as they are such adorable and memorable characters.  If you are looking for a good laugh that is family-friendly and has some sci-fi action in it, this movie is a great choice!

Content:

This movie deals with alien monsters, disaster-prone little girls, two sisters struggling to survive without their parents, some mild violence, a cross-dressing alien, high-powered laser guns, and other science fiction action.  There are a few scary scenes, but I don’t think children will have any issues watching this movie.  Recommended for ages 3 and up.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Comedy Movies, Science Fiction Movies

My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths (2010) Movie Review

My Friends Tigger & Pooh: Super Duper Super Sleuths (2010)

Movie Review by Debbie Winkler

 

Starring: Jim Cummings, Chloe Moretz, Ken Sansom, Travis Oates, Peter Cullen
Director:
Series: a My Friends Tigger & Pooh movie
Release Date: 6 April 2010
Language: English
Length: 70 minutes
Movie Rating: Not Rated
View Format: TV
My Rating: 3/5 stars

Synopsis:

“This engaging animated feature based on the popular “My Friends Tigger & Pooh” television series chronicles the adventures of the Hundred Acre Wood gang as they follow a shooting star that lands in the middle of Rabbit’s garden. Soon Rabbit’s vegetables grow to enormous proportions, and when Pooh, Tigger, Darby and her trusty pooch, Buster, sample the produce, they develop some super-duper powers.” — Netflix.com

Review:

All right, embarrassing confession time: I enjoy watching My Friends Tigger & Pooh on The Disney Channel.  Alone.  By myself.  With no children.  I can’t help it!  Winnie the Pooh has been one of my favorite Disney characters ever since I saw The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh when I was a little girl.  He has gone through several incarnations over the years and My Friends Tigger & Pooh is just the latest version Disney has come up with.  In it, Darby is a little girl who goes to the Hundred Acre Woods and plays with Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, Eeyore, Roo, and all of the others.  Darby, Tigger & Pooh are the Super Sleuths.  They are on call to investigate any mystery in the area and do their best to help everyone out.

This is the first feature-length Super Sleuths cartoon that I have seen.  Most of them are about 10 minutes long and this one is about an hour so it was fun to see something that was a little bit longer.  In this episode, Rabbit uses a super-growing potion on his vegetables to make them huge.  When Buster, Darby’s dog, eats some of the vegetables, he becomes a super digger.  Tigger tries it and gets super strength.  Pooh gets super long-distance vision.  Darby doesn’t think that she gets any super power, but then discovers she can fly!  With their super powers, they are now the best Super Sleuths ever!  But how long will their powers last?  And will they still be the best Super Sleuths when they lose their super powers?

I thought this was a cute little adventure for younger children.  This episode teaches children viewers about using their skills to work together to solve mysteries and that you don’t need to be anyone extraordinary or have super powers to be able to help those around you.  Most of the mysteries that the Super Sleuths solve are not complicated or hard to figure out for adults, but they are legitimate mysteries for children who are curious about the world around them.  The animation is done in a CGI style, which took me a while to get used to, but now I like it.  Everything is animated in a cute, bright, fun way for children and is very inviting.  If you have younger children at home, or just like to watch Winnie the Pooh, this is a good series to watch in the mornings on The Disney Channel.  A few of the episodes, including this one, are available to rent or buy on DVD as well.

Content:

This movie is recommended for viewers of all ages.

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Filed under Animated Movies, Children & Family Movies, Science Fiction Movies