Thanks Jin Shi
Two family films and a famous reboot.Bedtime Stories
A Disney fantasy/comedy for children written by Matt Lopez and Tim Herlihy (latest film as writer), produced by lead actor Adam Sandler, Andrew Gunn and Jack Giarraputo, directed by Adam Shankman (latest film as director). Music by Rupert Gregson-Williams, cinematography by Michael Barrett and editing by Tom Costain and Michael Tronick. Premise: Marty Bronson (Jonathan Pryce) narrates a tale about a motel he had loved but was forced to sell to Barry Nottingham (Richard Griffiths), who promised that Marty's son Skeeter (first timer Thomas Hoffman as child, Adam Sandler as adult) would take over the running of the hotel when he grew up. Several years later, Skeeter is working in the hotel as a janitor when he agrees to help look after niece Bobbi (Laura Ann Kesling making debut) and nephew Patrick (Jonathan Morgan Heit, first film) at nights for sister Wendy (first timer Abigail Droeger as child, Courteney Cox as adult) as she looks for a job in Arizona. Skeeter decides to give them a bed time story like his father had done before him and soon discovers these tales come true.
This is a film which should be used for how you shouldn't write a story, too many times a twist or a decision the film makes feel arbitrary or just too ridiculous, even for a children's fantasy. Something will just deal with whatever the problems Skeeter and co are facing, no matter how big the problem and how illogical that help is, no explanation ever given. Despite my willingness to overlook some of these deus ex machina, it happens too often. What makes it more frustrating is that the stories turned into reality, which could easily get silly, are well handled. Yes, it is easier to give the stories adaptations more leeway but generally, it is done in a clever and amusing fashion, not always doing it in the way expected, with a sense that the film knows this is a bit silly and having fun with Skeeter knowing something of what will happen and those around him being ignorant.
The romances work quite well, partly due to general likeability of the characters, but aren't written well. The main one is hardly a surprise but one of the characters is such a jerk to the other that when the romance does come, it feels like the film has drastically changed direction with a main relationship. Another isn't built up at all, the couple are thrown together for a scene or two then left completely till the end. Again, the romance worked, they had some fun moments in those scenes and I was happy the characters got together but really felt rather random.
Looks nice, not a fan of the music. The quality of the film is a bit patchy, every now and again there is a bit a duff bit where things aren't very intresting but usually recovers quickly enough. The end part, as well as unrealistic plotting, didn't work very well despite some nice ideas so film does dwindle in enjoyment for the last fifteen minutes or so. Yet I enjoyed the film for 3 main reasons: 1) It was warm-hearted and likeable, I liked the message for the kids. 2) It was funny, using dialogue, characters and situations to produce a laugh. Though they do overuse the originally charming Gerbil Buggsy and they get a little crude with him. 3) The characters were well used and generally likeable. This is not a film with brilliantly fleshed out characters, indeed some like Aspen (Lucy Lawless) and Wendy are only really there for amusement and plot purposes respectively. Yet while each character may fit certain roles rather than be real humans, they help make the humour work and I easily warmed to most of them. Even the villain Kendall (Guy Pearce) was strangely likeable in his own way, the children were adorable, Jill (Keri Russell) grew on me and even the spoof Paris Hilton, the socialite Violet Nottingham (Teresa Palmer) had grown on me by her second scene. Oddly enough, the two main male characters were more problematic. Best friend Mickey (Russell Brand) is initially just not very funny but he eventually grew on me, his good nature helped and the jokes got funnier. Skeeter on the other hand comes across as rather a jerk for a considerable part of the film and it is hard to root for him for quite awhile.
Overall: Poor plotting but warm hearted, likeable characters and funny.
---The Spiderwick Chronicles
A fantasy film adaptation of the many books in the series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, adapted by producer Karey Kirkpatrick (latest film in both roles), David Berenbaum (latest movie) and author John Sayles. Directed by Mark Waters, produced by Krikpatrick, Mark Canton, Larry J. Franco and Ellen Goldsmith-Vein (first film), cinematography by Caleb Deschanel, music by James Horner and editing by Michael Kahn. Premise: Arthur Spiderwick (David Strathairn) frantically finishes his work on magical beings before vanishing, his daughter Lucinda (Joan Plowright) locked up for saying he was taken away by fairies. 80 years after Arthur vanished, Lucinda's niece Helen Grace (Mary-Louise Parker) has separated and moves into the house with her three children: the fencer Mallory (Sarah Bolger), the pacifist nerd Simon and his troubled twin Jared (both by Freddie Highmore). Soon Jared finds things aren't quite right...
My recording stuttered a few times before a big animated moment but the visuals were very impressive throughout. For me, they were the best parts of the film as I rapidly grew bored. The early scene in the car was nice, quickly gave a flavour of the family dynamics and the characteris but after that? My main problem was Jared. He was clearly going through a difficult time and he is young, so perhaps the problem is with me but I found him unlikeable. He acted like a jerk for awhile and even when he becomes nicer, he does revert to the unlikeable side every now and again. When it came to a point where he realized something horrible, instead of sympathising I felt tempted to applaud him for finally working it out. He also did a lot of stupid things, as in endanger everyone by ignoring advice and taking the dumbest route possible. So naturally, he becomes the leader of the group
Now ok, the immature idiot becoming the leader is fine normally, usually they mature or offer something different but this felt forced. That the film had decided who would be leader and that was that. Mallory had seemed more the leader at first, she was hard working, had some brains (more then Jared, not as much as Simon), some leadership whereas Simon was clearly a follower but they seemed to weaken her as the film went on. In the darkest recesses of my, and my sister's mind, the thought did occur that it was the female they weakened for the male.
Mallory and Simon are initially more likeable then Jared but both have their jerk moments, Simon fades out while Mallory gets usurped by Jared. I had no reason to get behind them as the film grew on and there was little else the film did that got me excited. There was tension in some of the early scenes but that soon faded, the action was boring, the villains never felt scary or threatening, little humour. There is a nice basic idea behind the film but it doesn't look like the fantasy aspects are used as well as they should be, some decent side stories that had a bit more emotional punch for my sister then an already bored me. Side characters like Thimbletack (voiced by Martin Short), the slightly creepy Hogsqueal (Seth Rogen) and plot device Helen were more likeable then the main characters and their presence on screen usually provided a welcome dose of humour but felt like more could have been done with them. Voice work was good, Sarah Bolger and Freddie Highmore were shaky at first but grew into their roles, Mary-Louise Parker was decent but was overshadowed by my memories of her eye-catching performance in Angels in America.
Overall: Bored but animation was impressive. My sister felt action/some fantasy bits were underwhelming but solid story, actors, (and likeable) characters and good animation.
Me: 5.0/10. Sister: 6.0
A reboot of the famous sci-fi series, written by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, directed and produced by J. J. Abrams with Damon Lindelof helping with production. Michael Giacchino did the music with the theme music from the late Alexander Courage, cinematography by Daniel Mindel, edited by both Mary Jo Markey and Maryann Brandon.
My star Trek experience is: watched and enjoyed the series Voyager, have a secret love for the cheesy fansong
. My sister and my father both have more history with the show.
Visual effects quite impressive, I imagine they look better in a cinema, but it did feel like it was trying to show off in the space scenes, long slow looks at the ships and so on. Felt the film struggled to build a consistent rhythm for awhile, most scenes were good but when Kirk was alone or it went into action then I tended to get somewhat bored. This also became a problem near the end, I was initially pulled in by the dramatic tension but grew bored. However a lot of the film was fun, even I got some of the nods to the past, I enjoyed the humour and I liked most of the characters. I would have liked to have seen more of Spock's parents but I felt they balanced the cast well, concentrated on Spock and Kirk of course but gently introducing each of the other main members of the crew, though not always quite getting the balance right, and it felt like some camaraderie was being built but not too much. Kirk came across as a bit of jerk at times but his strengths combined with a fairly good nature and the charm of Chris Pine as Kirk. Spock could easily go wrong but they trod the fine line between emotion and logic, as did the excellent performance of Zachary Quinto. Story did what it needed to do, provide enjoyment, set up enough wiggle room for the reboot and set up the characters. Pacing was a little off near the end and overall story requires a little ability of suspending disbelief but it really set up well for the future.
Overall: Fun, good characters and humorous but with boring parts.