Tag Archives: movie reviews

movie update: Spiderwick Chronicles

Last night we went to see The Spiderwick Chronicles. Afterward, I mentioned to my son that he was continuing to bat a thousand on movie recommendations and that I was giving him credit on my blog. He suggested that I say the following: that he is my pride and joy, and my reason for getting out of bed in the morning to face each new day. Did I mention that he’s 12? 🙂 And he really is wonderful.

I liked the movie very much (see below). However, I’m sick and tired of films in which kids don’t tell their parents things because they’re sure the parents won’t believe them. Parents and other authority figures are routinely portrayed as blind idiots who refuse to listen to a word their kids have to say, even as some major plot element is destroying the known world all around them. Then, when they’re somehow forced to pay attention and see what’s going on, there’s a touching “Oh, honey, I’m sorry I didn’t believe you” moment.

In Spiderwick, the mom has every reason not to listen to her son Jared: she’s in the middle of a divorce, a move, and a new job, and her son has incredible anger issues and has been acting out physically. So, at least she isn’t made to seem like an idiot — just a stressed, harried woman who needs a week at a spa. But still, she won’t believe him, and she won’t listen to him, even when her other two children confirm his apparently wild stories. I find this immensely frustrating. And at the end, when she knelt down next to him, my son whispered to me, “Now she’s going say ‘I’m so sorry I didn’t listen to you'” — and she did, in fact, say exactly that.

Plots like this are getting kinda old. I’ve assured my kids that if aliens land in the backyard or they find an elf living under their bed, I will listen to them, and even believe them, if they show me the proof, and I’d much prefer them to come to me rather than trying to save the world on their own. Not all parents are blithering idiots, and I wish Hollywood would give us a little credit.

Anyway, here’s what I say on my Movies page:

The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008). Yet another excellent recommendation from my son. He and I were the only ones home last evening, and when I asked if there was anything in particular he’d like to do, he suggested going to see this movie. I knew next to nothing about it, and had no real desire to go (I would have preferred to see Penelope), but I’m very glad we went. This is on its face a children’s fantasy-adventure movie about the magic world all around us that we can’t see, and a troubled family whose children get mixed up with goblins, fairies, and a very large, very unpleasant ogre. But many of the outstanding special effects would be far too intense and scary for small children; and the movie has plenty to keep adults engaged. It’s a visually beautiful film, and I loved the music. Plus the actors are all wonderful — for example, I haven’t seen the boy, Freddie Highmore, in his other movies (and he’s made plenty, including the remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), so I didn’t realize that the two boys in this film weren’t twins until the end; Highmore is entirely convincing as two different brothers.

movie update

I’ve updated my Movies page with the following:

Interesting side note. I was reading an article about the low ratings for the Oscars this year and learned that I’ve seen only 4 of the last 11 Best Picture winners. Now, I watch a lot of movies. A lot. But this year I had not the slightest interest in the Oscars, because I hadn’t seen any of the Best Picture nominees — heck, I hadn’t even seen the movies the Best Actor, Actress, etc. nominees were from. I think I had to go to the Best Song category to find a film I’d gone to.

I’m sure the nominated films this year were fine, if you like that sort of thing. But why wasn’t The Bourne Ultimatum nominated for Best Picture and Best Director? What about American Gangster for Best Picture and Best Actor? Where was Christina Ricci’s Best Actress nomination for Black Snake Moan? Why wasn’t Waitress up for Best Picture, Best Actress, and a slew of other awards?

The nominees seem to be deliberately chosen in such a way as to avoid films with any popular support. It’s weird, frustrating, and guaranteed to make a movie buff like me skip watching the Academy Awards.

movie miscellany

I’ve updated my Movies page to include The Ritz, Mystery Men, and Strictly Ballroom — all films that are tremendous fun to watch.

Coming next from Netflix (today, I hope): the new, definitive, director’s Final Cut of Blade Runner. This is the only version over which Ridley Scott has had complete artistic control, and I can’t wait.

And I’ve preordered my copy of the very, very wonderful Enchanted on Amazon. The DVD comes out in March, and I’ll be delighted to see this movie again.

Last week, S left the following comment on my Movies page:

My comment is about ‘I Am Legend’ – I never got around to writing my review for that, but let me say this, you MUST see it.

… I was pleasantly surprised! It’s not your typical horror – in fact, it’s more sci-fi. It wasn’t really effects heavy, as I would have expected. The story is very good – though, from what I understand, not terribly true to the book.

It’s a fantastic character study, and Will Smith acts his ass off in it. It was, however, one of the most depressing movies I’ve seen in a long time – don’t know if that’s a put-off or not, but it’s a fair warning.

I highly recommend it.

S, thanks very much for the recommendation, but I’m afraid I’ll have to decline. I’m sure Will Smith is wonderful — the thing is, I much prefer the Will Smith of Men in Black, rather than the one in Pursuit of Happyness or I Am Legend. You sum up the reason in this sentence: “It was, however, one of the most depressing movies I’ve seen in a long time.” My daughter confirmed this opinion when she came home from seeing the movie — the story was great, the setting was amazing, Will Smith was superb, the ending was an incredible downer.

I will now quote from myself:

… I read books for the same reason I go to movies: for diversion and enjoyment. … I do not read or go to movies to experience wrenching emotional moments or sob at the loss of a beloved character (or their child, or their pet). Some people find sad or otherwise emotionally overwrought books and films cathartic and speak happily about how much they cried after reading or seeing such-and-such (the movie Terms of Endearment comes to mind). All I have to say to that is, “Thanks, but no thanks.”

What the heck, I’ll quote from myself again, regarding action films:

I also expect a happy ending for whoever has braved all this mayhem — as I’ve said many times, I don’t sit through 2 hours of a movie just to be shocked or depressed by the ending. If I’m not sure how things will turn out in a given movie, I’ll wait and hear about it or read it online, to be sure I’ll be satisfied.

Call me silly; call me limited in my approach to film; tell me I’m in denial about the cold, hard realities of life. Maybe so; but I’ll watch The Fifth Element or Moonstruck or Noises Off for the 58th time, and leave the thought-provoking, weepy films to other audience members with tastes very different from mine. 🙂

movies!

https://i0.wp.com/women.ucsd.edu/calendar/images/film.jpgSomehow I got off track on my Movies page, and it’s been languishing, un-updated, for nearly a year. I don’t make new-year resolutions, but I’m going to try my best to keep my list of watched films current this year. Today I’ve updated the page to include all the movies I’ve watched since Jan. 1, 2008.

Yes, I’ve watched 5 films in 7 days (one in a theater, the others on DVD). A friend asked me recently how often I watch movies, and I replied that in our house, we watch movies the way other people watch sports. None of us watch any TV series regularly (although my son does watch Desperate Housewives with his grandmother most Sunday evenings, and last night we all got caught up in the general badness and excitement of American Gladiator), and we almost never watch sports (with the exception of a little college basketball in February/March and a little football this time of year). Insead, we watch movies. We talk movies. My kids and I can quote dialog and plot elements like other people quote baseball stats.

To each their own — and mine is on the silver screen.