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Barnyard - Nice Story, Overall Good Experience
My wife and I enjoyed a "matinee date" to see "Barnyard." The film, overall, did not disappoint. The voice talent was impressive - a very good collection of actors.

Animation was also impressive - fun. Scripting was pretty good: funny, tender, scary. A good time was had by all in the auditorium today (we were the only adults at the movie without children).

Only two negative criticisms, both specific to the drawing of animals: 1) Most of the cows are male, but they all had udders. Now, I am no farmer or livestock expert - but, I thought only female cows had udders (ergo, mammary glands).

2) Flying chickens? Once again, farming is not my forte, but when did chickens acquire the ability to fly? Beyond these two oddities, my wife and I enjoyed the video trip to escape life for an hour and a half. You will also enjoy the film, if you appreciate animation and humor - oh, and you MUST have a heart! Go and Enjoy !

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

"Pirates" Partially Pleasing
My wife and I saw "Pirates" after a lengthy stretch of great anticipation. She wanted to see it because she likes the story; I was more focused on make-up, special effects and computer generation. Neither of us was disappointed.

Positives: excellent costuming, great make up and special effects, and some very good computer generation. Captain Jack's First Mate pretty much stole the show, as far as I am concerned. Very strong, solid performance. Choreographed fight scenes VERY well done - lots of fun to watch.

Bitter/Sweet: lots of silliness in this film. If it was intended to be silly and dumb, success. If the filmmaker was serious with his silliness, he blew it. Silly IS fun, though.

Negatives: TOO LONG! Could easily have been whacked by 1/2 hour - EASILY! Editing was amateurish; choppy. Johnny Depp seems stalled out in his creativity and execution: "Pirates" I & II and "Chocolat" seem to be rubber stamp characters, though there was more heart and depth in "Chocolat." Overall, I consider Mr. Depp a marginal actor.

Additional Negative: Keira Knightly. Difficult to look at, from a physical perspective (facially unfortunate), but more difficult to watch as a performer. Miscast in this role, to my way of thinking. It was a chance she took in her career, one she should probably not repeat.

Overall: see the film. No one under 12 should see it, for several scenes are inappropriate for younger children (quite gory and graphic). 12 and over? Yes - see it as a family and enjoy! SPECIAL NOTE: kudos to whoever created Davy Jones, A+.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Narnia - The Finest Film Experience in a Very Long Time
I often read postings from movie-goers who rail on and on about "the best movie ever." Far more often than not, they are films of little depth, thin stories, and little artistic value.

Tonight, my wife and I saw "Narnia" and were absolutely bowled over. This is a story - a portrayal - a delivery - that is simply overwhelming. A film of over 2 hours in length seemed to fly by. The actors - unknown to us - were delightful. Of particular note is the young person playing "Lucy." She is captivating - in face and charm. She carried her role very nicely, and worked well with her peers.

Special effects were wonderful in animal and human form - as well as the semi-humans. And, let us not forget The Beavers - tried very hard to steal the show, and almost succeeded.

There was a primary hero, but several more supporting heroes. And, much to our delight, there was a villain that we REALLY wanted to "boo." I don't believe we overstate our position when we cast our vote for Film of the Year for "Narnia." Go see it, and enjoy.

Dirty Dancing

Dirty Dancing
For anyone with a heart - a soul - "Dirty Dancing" is a great film.

Seeing the verve of the young people in the film - doing what they can to break from the conventional bonds of their parents - was stimulating. Not appearing to be "bad" in the traditional sense, they were merely trying to carve out their own place in the world.

Patrick Swayze's acting - overshadowed only by superb dancing - was strong. Playing the "bad guy" with a misunderstood spirit was a fine example of casting.

Jennifer Grey, as "Baby" Houseman, nearly stole the film. Her innocence - her overwhelming beauty - was exceedingly provocative. Her dancing, too, was wonderful. Watching her with Patrick Swayze was so sensuous, and watching them dance was a heart-warming experience.

It is interesting to go to the IMDb site and check out the filmographies. Some actors who continued on in their careers - some who drifted into seeming oblivion.

Every once in awhile, a film comes along that grabs us. For me, "Dirty Dancing" falls in line with other excellent films that are "grabbers," like "Six Days, Seven Nights," "You've Got Mail," "West Side Story," et al.

I just finished watching "Dirty Dancing" for the umpteenth time, and NEVER tire of the story and the portrayal. Especially, the end-of-film dance at the end of season show.

The Legend of Zorro

The Legend of Zorro - Don't Compare It To The First One
We saw "The Legend of Zorro" at our local theater tonight, long-anticipating a sequel to a wonderful film featuring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. While hoping it would follow suit with the first film, we were committed to going in with open minds.

Simply, the film does not match the robustness, passion or provocative nature of the first film. That does NOT mean it is a bad film - just different.

Strengths of the movie include admirable performing by the Alejandro and Elena stars. Clearly, their on-screen match-up was a great renewal. It was good to see them together again, though there was far less chemistry than they enjoyed in the first film.

The stunt work was fairly good, though some was a bit over-the-top and not particularly believable. All in all, though, it added a bit to the overall story.

The most disappointing aspects of the movie were select portions of the scripting and casting. For example, young Joaquin speaks in 2005 language - 150 years too early. Those creating the script should have restrained themselves, and used a bit more time to research the language of the era being portrayed in the story.

As to scripting: unless my eyes deceived me, one of the padres in the film (actually, Joaquin's teacher) appeared to be one of the Dons from the first film. I am unsure why this would have been a choice by the casting folks - and further unsure why it would be approved by the producer or the director.

Finally, the film seemed to drag out a bit - didn't need to be >2 hours long, in my estimation.

With all of this said, it is worth seeing. Just don't expect the blockbuster film that was the first "Zorro!"

Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story

Dreamer - A Delightful Story - Delightful Film
My wife and I saw this movie today, and were very happy to have spent the time and the emotion.

This is a heartwarming experience for virtually any viewer with a soul. Far beyond a simple story about a horse, this film delves in to multi-generational relationships and human frailty. In its relatively short time duration, the film depicted a great deal of real life.

Dakota Fanning is a remarkable actor. It is almost frightening to see someone of her tender years with such screen presence and ability to deliver a range of emotion so convincingly. If only the film industry will refrain from corrupting her - and her support group helps to keep her "real" - she will undoubtedly evolve into an excellent adult performer.

Kurt Russell is a perennial favorite of ours. We both commented on the joy of watching the growth of his career and ability from his child roles of Disney films through his present "mature" stage of career. Whether a husband and father in "Dreamer" or a dysfunctional husband and brother in "Backdraft, he is enjoyable to watch.

Kris Kristofferson as a crusty old horse person with a huge, warm heart, was a nice addition to the film. We have long acknowledge that his acting talent far exceeds his musical prowess.

Last, but not least, there is Elisabeth Shue. Since "Adventures in Babysitting," we have enjoyed her performances. She is beautiful, charming, adept, versatile and willing to take professional risks. It is unfortunate that the film industry does not provide her more good roles for someone of her abilities.

It is pleasing that "Dreamer" - and films of its style - are made. Such entertainment vehicles support a means to keep families bonded. "Dreamer" is a great way for families to spend a couple of hours together.

Don't hesitate to see this film. Open your heart, connect your soul to your brain, and enjoy yourself!

North Country

North Country: kudos from a film-goer , apologies on behalf of the male gender
I saw "North Country" this afternoon and was awe-struck by the excellent portrayal of this true-to-life portrayal.

The film accurately depicted the state of women in the workplace for the larger portion of our country's history. The unbelievable arrogance of men played out very well, and - unfortunately - very clearly in the film. Casting was very good; workplace scenes quite accurate for the mines.

It was a very difficult story to watch, but oh-so-necessary. I believe this film should be mandatory viewing for all adult-age and teen-aged people in our country. What a great vehicle to stimulate meaningful discussion on the role of men and women in our society! One would like to believe that the end result of this tale from our history is eradication of such conditions and conduct. Sadly, speaking from personal experience, such is not the case. I have had the unfortunate - but necessary - experience of intervening in two separate gender-related cases in the past year.

Sorely, there is that pocket of men who continue to place themselves above women in our culture. For the record, women are human beings - not sex toys or second-class citizens. They do NOT belong barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. I am sad to report that, in my community and in my industry, women continue to experience maltreatment by their male counterparts.

Trite as it may sound, folks, every woman is someone's mother - sister - daughter. Consider how each of us would want our female loved ones treated - and interact with others accordingly.

This film is destined for serious Academy Award consideration - for its excellent story, its accomplished delivery, and as a social conscience for us all.

Many thanks to the on-camera and behind-the-scenes people who made this film possible. Mostly, though, thanks to those women and their supporters who blew the lid off the barbarism in the workplace. May their efforts continue to bear fruit, to the end that all workers are able to enjoy a non-threatening work environment.

Fantastic Four

Fantastic 4 Less Than Fantastic
My wife & I just returned from seeing this film. From the outset, we recognize two things as true: 1) we had never heard of what apparently is a comic book series of the same name, and 2) based on trailers, knew it would be a 90 minute release from brain function.

Beyond a relatively shallow (but expected) story, one can easily dissect the characteristics of each major character role. Victor has always been second-best; hence, his overgrown ego. Sue is a stereotypical shallow "Barbie-type." I suspect young males (obviously the target audience) might find her physically attractive, though we certainly find her facially unappealing. Richard is entrapped in his career, and has difficulty connecting with life outside the lab. Johnny (Sue's brother) is a perpetually 12 year old boy - totally irresponsible and shallow. This is also a most unfortunate-looking person from the neck up.

The only seemingly "normal" character was Ben. We were struck by his plainness - his simple persona - his love for a significant other. It was also great to see Michael Chiklis again, though this film and role were beneath him. We agree that he probably chose to do it as a professional lark or to do someone a favor.

Special effects and graphics were, overall, pretty good. Some select items (photos, for example) we're obviously contrived. Of course, one cannot be too hard on a movie that should not be taken seriously; after all, it's an electronic comic book.

There were some amusing parts of the film, and that's always a good thing. For spending $13.00 (tickets, popcorn and soda) for 2 adults, I believe we got our money's worth. Do see the film if you 1) follow the comic books OR 2) enjoy action-type films OR 3) just want to escape from the world for 90 minutes and not use your brain. It's kind of a fun trip.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

Revenge of the Sith - Scored x2
A wonderful end to the series, bringing it all together very well. That, of course, was great for a guy who raised his sons on the first 3 episodes.

Another great aspect of the film was the comparison of the creation of the Empire with the prevailing Administration in Washington, D.C. Of special note was the re-phrasing of Emperor Bush's "If you're not with us, you're the enemy!" Mr. Lucas is to be applauded for making this statement with a very well-done movie.

Special effects are very convincing, and one can only give a great deal of credit to the behind-the-scenes folks for their great technical prowess.

The film is absolutely worth seeing, and many will see many times.

Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous

A Rare Sequel That Does Justice To The Original
Having looked forward for a long time to see this film finally released, my wife and I were not disappointed. Not only did Gracie pick up from the last story and run, there was a great enhancement with the addition of Regina King as "Sam" in the story. Gracie and Sam were incredibly different, but remarkably alike.

Of course, bringing back the majority of the original supporting roles & characters was excellent - as well as the tie-in to Eric with the tearful telephone break-up.

Do not hesitate to see this film, for you will be pleased with some great lines and equally-great physical humor. I believe that Sandra Bullock is developing a physical humor persona in the style of Lucille Ball.

Great job, Sandra. Now, if only you can get your personal life in some sense of order?!

Be Cool

"Chili" Travolta strikes again!
John Travolta never ceases to impress me as an actor. From his days as Vinnie Barbarino through today, Mr. Travolta shows his depth as a film star. Consider his character "Chili Palmer" and compare it to the down-and-out security guard opposite Dustin Hoffman in "Mad City" to the President in "Primary Colors" to the wacko renegade in "Broken Arrow." Chili Palmer is a great character, and I'm very pleased with the way Mr. Travolta executes. His entire persona is convincing, and the costuming is excellent. In fact, his clothing in "Be Cool" and "Get Shorty" make his character even more impressive. Couple his wardrobe with his confident stride and you see a Chili Palmer that can't miss.

Of course, the rest of the cast in these 2 films supported Mr. Travolta nicely - especially The Rock in "Be Cool." Let's hope John Travolta continues his film career for years to come. While we have a treasure trove of great works already in the library, there's always room for many more.


"Hitched" to a Star
This film was a delightful departure for Will Smith, demonstrating a willingness to spread his professional wings. I believe he was quite credible in his comedic/romantic role, and was willing to expose himself for the sake of the film.

Mr. Smith has been a joy to watch as he's come through the ranks, and I hope he will continue to explore other opportunities that challenge his talents. As he continues to mature as a person and an actor, I'm confident he'll retain his status as a dominant film star and public figure. His polished good looks are a great asset, and I also hope he'll avoid allowing producers/directors from trying to adulterate his physical and performing gifts.

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