Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Golden Compass

This is the movie we have been waiting for all year and the Daughter and I were very excited to finally get to see it last night. I loved the book The Golden Compass, and of course one worries that one's favorite books will be destroyed in movies, but I never can help going to see them anyway. This one wasn't destroyed. It wasn't nearly as good as the book, of course, but it was pretty good for a movie. We enjoyed it, although the Daughter was a bit put out by where it ended.

The controversy first:

I have mainly one thing to say to the posters-of-dire-internet-warnings: please. The early ending was doubtless in deference to those, leaving it open as to whether or not other movies are made... I'm guessing not, after all the fluff. Also, in deference to the offended, the Church was never mentioned... just the Magisterium. One would have to know what the word "heresy" means to get one's hackles up even a little and, well... let's be honest about most people's vocabularies, shall we? It was not offensive. Really.

The bad:

A bit heavy-handed with the exposition and deus ex machina plot devices to make everything fit, most especially where the witch and Lee Scoresby were concerned. Mrs. Coulter got a bit too mushy at one point, but not by too much. There is only so much computer animation that feels okay with me.

The skinny:

Mainly, it was as good as I think a movie could make it. Lyra is a fierce little girl, growing up under the benevolent neglect of the scholars of Jordan College in an another world's Oxford. Dark forces are at work, hurting children and threatening the order of her world. Lyra is in possession of a golden compass, an alethiometer, which tells the truth and which only she can read. Lyra must find out what's going on, try to rescue her friend Roger and save her world. It ends before things get dodgy, which was fine with me but which upset the Daughter. All in all, it could never come close to the book, but it was good.


Sunday, December 02, 2007


The Daughter and I saw a preview for Enchanted when we saw Nancy Drew last summer and have been looking forward to it ever since. We finally saw it on Saturday and were not disappointed. In the movie, Giselle, a sweet cartoon of a girl, finds her true-love prince in the land of Andalasia but is sent into our world's New York City by his wicked stepmother who does not want him to marry and ascend to the throne. Giselle has some trouble dealing with our reality. A practical man and his little girl find her and the man tries to help her navigate her new circumstances, somewhat reluctantly. Giselle's handsome prince, who is way-full-of-himself but kind of sweet, and her chipmunk friend, come after her, accompanied by a servant who the clueless prince doesn't realize is in league with the wicked queen. Actually, he doesn't even know that his stepmother is the villian. Eventually, after many mishaps, the prince finds Giselle...and she's somewhat less interested in him than she previously was. After a battle between Good and Evil and references to most Disney classic fairytale movies, Giselle ends up with her New Yorker and his sweet little girl and the prince goes back to cartoon-land with the New Yorker's former girlfriend.

Strangely enough, the movie was neither stupid nor too-caustic. It was actually good. We enjoyed it. I must, however, admit that my favorite part was when the prince was knocking on doors in an apartment building he had reason to believe Giselle was in and a tired-looking woman with several little kids opened the door, looked at him, and said You're too late.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising

Yes, we saw it. I took the Daughter to it last Sunday and, yes, it was as bad as we had many of us feared. As a kids' movie alone, it was only regular-bad - a bit silly, but amusing enough for young tastes. As something that purported to be based upon one of the best works of children's fantasy in the western hemisphere, however, it was abysmally bad. Will was an American. Need I say more?

I shall.

Will had a lost twin who was trapped by the Rider. His father knew about the Dark and the Light. No Arthurian references nor Celtic legends, really. Will was a Sign. No Walker. Yeah. I know. I knew, but we had to see it anyway.

I had made the Daughter read Over Sea, Under Stone and The Dark Is Rising before I would take her and she had not done so with a good grace, but even she was offended by the lack of faithfulness.



Sunday, August 12, 2007


The Daughter and I went to see Stardust on Friday evening. We are both fantasy fans and, although she is only 11, I have found her to be at a point where many (but not all) media restrictions can be lifted and was okay with taking her to such a fantasy, even though it was rated PG-13. I am not really a Gaiman fan, as his "children's" book Coraline was easily the scariest thing I have ever read and a book I would not let the eleven-year-old read, but this story of his was a romantic adventure, not really meant to be scary, and I took a chance on it, which I do not regret. That said, it had some pretty dark parts, so do be warned. The movie contained violence, sex, murder, rotting ghosts and divination by entrails, so it is not for the younger set. It also contained cross-dressing, but I am cool with that for little kids. Mostly, though, the movie was just humorous.

Stardust is about a young man's journey to adulthood. Tristan lives in a village called Wall, which borders a magical realm. He crosses the wall to seek a falling star to bring back to the girl he loves as proof of his devotion, but in the magical realm where the star has fallen, stars are people and a young woman is what he finds. Apparently, eternal life and youth can be found by eating the glowing heart of a star every once in awhile and ancient witches and an evil princeling seek the fallen star for this nefarious reason. Tristan and the star have many adventures and, of course, fall in love, in the midst of their travails. There are no big surprises in this movie or any greatly moving moments. It is a humorous fantasy in the style of The Princess Bride, and I found it an entertaining way to spend a little time. The Daughter enjoyed it very well and I recommend it for adolescents and parents who enjoy fantasy and humor. Michelle Pfieffer is as beautiful as she ever has to wonder if she really did eat a star's heart or something.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Harry Potter And The Order of The Phoenix

I took the Daughter and my baby sister (18) to see the new Harry Potter movie on Thursday night. My sister was here for Freshman Orientation at our local university, which she will be attending in the fall. We were so excited to be going to see this movie!

It has been a good while since I read Harry Potter And The Order of The Phoenix, so it is hard for me to say how true the movie was to the details of the book. The bit with the prophecy at the Ministry of Magic was quite different and, of course, the movie abbreviated the book's specifics a good bit, but I felt it was true to the spirit of the book and the high points, to the best of my memory.

I thought the movie was quite well done. It was very much darker than the other films, as it would have to be in order to be true to the book. It is not a film for the little ones. I remember being rather annoyed with Harry's adolescent rebellion in this book when I read it, this being the first installment in which he was a much less biddable teen than the sweet boy of earlier books and movies. Reading the book, though, I knew his adolescent angst was necessary to his age and the movie impressed me even more than the book that it was necessary to his circumstances, regardless of age. He was a tortured young man.

I heard that this movie had a new director and I think he did a very good job. The characters were all spot-on as far as I was concerned and the storytelling captivating. The dark mood was perfect. The Daughter and my sister liked it very much as well. I highly recommend this one for the over-ten set.

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Nancy Drew

The Daughter and I finally went to another movie! We went to see Nancy Drew, which was very exciting to me, as I was a great Nancy Drew fan as a girl. My favorite childhood mystery series was Trixie Belden, but Nancy Drew was a close second, even though both series had been around since my mother was a girl...they seemed timeless. The Daughter has never really gotten into the books, but she wanted to see the movie. We went with my sister when visiting her in June.

The movie did not disappoint. Nancy was a smart, independent, curious and courteous girl. I really loved how polite she was. The movie dealt with the "timeless" issue by having Nancy and her dad move from the universe of the well-loved books, complete with old-fashioned Bess and Ned, to modern-day LALA Land, where she was a bit of an oddity. Nancy was not much troubled, however, by not fitting in at her new school. She stayed true to herself and solved her case, as usual. The Daughter and I both really enjoyed this modern adaptation. I think there is supposed to be a TV series soon, as well, although we do not have cable ourselves.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Akeelah And The Bee

I took the Daughter to see this sweet movie at the dollar theater last night and am glad we made time for the outing. It is a wonderful story about an eleven-year-old girl attending a depressing inner-city school who has learned a love of words from her deceased father. No one in Akeelah's life pays much attention to her amazing vocabulary until a teacher brings it to the principal's attention and he decides that having a student of theirs make it to the National Spelling Bee might get his school the attention it needs to attract the funding needed to fix its problems. Akeelah is not interested in the principal's plan and doesn't want to be seen as a freak in her neighborhood, but her love for words takes over and she soon finds herself driven to try to win the Bee. As she enters the world of the Bee, Akeelah makes new friends outside of her neighborhood but she also improves her existing network of support within it and within her own family. She remains kind and compassionate to others throughout the competition of the Bees and she inspires other people to be kind to each other with her integrity and generosity.

This movie is not about spelling, so you can take kids who do not spell well to see and enjoy it, if they are mature enough to understand the movie's message: Akeelah And The Bee is about not being afraid to open the gifts that you have been given and use them to your highest ability, no matter how frightening and isolating such an endeavor may seem. The movie has a message that is good for every kid to hear as everyone has some amazing gift that they need to have the courage to work to develop. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Last Monday, I was free in the afternoon, so I took the Daughter to the local dollar cinema to see Hoot, a movie based on the book by the same name by Carl Hiaasen. The Daughter and I had both read the book - me quite awhile ago and her in late April - and we had enjoyed it. I have not read any of Mr. Hiaasen's books for adults but his two for youth are both very environmentally oriented which is right up my little activists' tree-lined alley.

Hoot was very true to the book; impressively so. I checked with the Daughter on this and she agreed. It is the story of a boy who is new in town and his school and who gets to know a strange boy who does not go to school. As the movie progresses, the new boy discovers that his strange friend is engaged in a covert battle against developers to save the lives of a protected species. The strange boy, dubbed "Mullet Fingers" by his sister, has managed to delay but not stop the development, so the young activists have to find a method that really works. Mr. Hiaasen's stories balance an urgent activism with cautionary evidence that ecoterrorism does not ultimately solve environmental issues - one must figure out how to make the system work correctly to be truly effective. This is good stuff for the Daughter to hear, but the deep respect for the activist characters like Mullet Fingers keep the stories from making the young and passionate sulky about their balanced message.

This movie was well-written, well-performed and visually beautiful. The Daughter and I enjoyed getting to see such a quality story on the big screen and we enjoyed discussing its themes together afterward. I highly recommend it for any little activists at your house!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


I am a Texas mama who likes to spend time with my ten-year-old and two-year-old daughters. One way that the pre-teen and I have some connecting time alone is by going out to see appropriate movies that we can both enjoy and discuss together. This blog reviews movies from our mother-daughter outings. Welcome!