I have seen a lot of good movies recently. This doesn't happen often, so when it does I like to brag. Also, I am aware at how my view of good entertainment has changed over the years. I find the shift to be interesting.
These are posted in the order that I saw them. I am using a rating system of 1-5 (5 being best). I will take the market audience into account into my ratings as well as type of film. In other words, An action film staring The Rock will not loose points for being shallow, but a cartoon marketed to children, but made for adults just might loose some. All right.. here goes...
This Film Is Not Yet Rated is a documentary originally released in 2006 about the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the anonymous ratings board that rates all movies hoping to be shown in theaters in the United States. I found this on the Independent Film Channel while I was flipping one night. (See why I don't want to give up cable!?!) So what is the big deal? The director Kirby Dick and other film makers interviewed in the movie, contend that the ratings board is tantamount to censorship. This is especially true when it comes to sexual content and that fine line between being rated "R" and "NC-17". Most movie theaters will not show "NC-17" movies on a good day, and hardly any would show one when produced by independents and not major studios. The problem really is that there are no clear guidelines. No way for these film makers to know what is acceptable and what is not. The board members just kind of make it up as they go a long on a case by case bases. So where is the line in the sand? What is okay and who are these people who are deciding these things for us? I think Kirby Dick does a really good job of laying out a very complicated situation in very real, easy to define terms that we can all understand. The interviews of directors telling their personal experiences are epically compelling. If you have any vested interest in the movie industry, and most of us do... I would mark this as a must see... so for that I give this one a 5. (Contains sexually graphic material. I would not personally recommended it for anyone under the age of 14).
Race to Witch Mountain may sound familiar. It is a remake of the 1970s movie Escape to Witch Mountain. To be honest, when I heard they were redoing this one, I was excited. I grew up on the old Escape movie and while it had a good story to tell, like most movies of its time, it suffered from lack of editing. This new one is definitely more fast passed. It moves fast and features lost of explosions. Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) gives a surprisingly good performance. He does great action scenes of course, but he also knows how to deliver a funny line. All and all, I liked the cast. The kids were good, even though I wish they had been given more to do. The girl still has her telepathic powers and the boy can still move through objects, even stops a speeding semi truck bare handed, but they aren't always the ones saving the day. Johnson does a lot of that himself. Garry Marshall had a great cameo as a UFO buff that revels the secrete government bunker "Witch Mountain". Again, I think they lost the opportunity to have some really great scenes if he had been given more to do. Over all I give this one sold 4. Disney has rediscovered the family sci-fi action film that you can take your kids to see with out having to cover their eyes. Its fast passed and fun. I would definitely see this one again.
Monsters vs. Aliens landed in theaters with a lot of hype to live up to. It has been described as a the Sci-Fi B movies version of Kong Fu Panda... I beg to differ. I was really excited when I saw the previews for this one and I went to see it opening weekend. I was expecting AWESOMENESS that never came. If I were going to compare this one to other Dreamworks animation movies I would say it walks the line closer to Shrek in that it has a story, but not an exceptional one. It will appeal to adults as well as kids but for all the wrong reasons. Once again Dreamworks is relied on an adult story line with adult humor to apologize for the fact that their movie was animated. Hello... you can make a movie that appeals to both audiences without having to compromise story! I thought that lesson had finally been learned with Kong Fu Panda, but I guess not. If you want to have adult humor in a Sci Fi movie, I'm all for it, but don't market it to kids. Aside from my personal issues with some of the content, I would argue that they didn't have a good story at all. I think it would have been better, funnier if they have concentrated more on Dr. Cockroach and exploited their casting of the comedic genius Huge Laurie for all he is worth (and I'm not just saying that because I adore him). My sister said she liked the movie because it had a moral. Sorry, I didn't see it. I didn't like the heroine, Susan (aka Ginormica) at all. I have had my fill of desperate women in retarded relationships that are clearly all about the man's ego. I much preferred Po figuring out that "There is no secret ingredient. Its been in you the whole time" to Susan FINALLY figuring out that her fiance is an egotistical asshole. For this reason I give the film a 2 1/2. Not the worst thing I have ever seen, but I am not going back and I will not buy it when it comes out on DVD.