Saturday, April 16, 2011


Animated action/adventure

Leslie Mann: Linda, owner of an independent bookstore
Jesse Eisenberg: Blu, her male domesticated Macaw
Rodrigo Santoro: TĂșlio, a Brazilian ornithologist (a zoologist who studies birds)
Anne Hathaway: Jewel, a female Macaw
Jake Austin: Brazilian teenager Fernando
Carlos Ponce: exotic bird smuggler Marcel Pedro, a red crested Cardinal
Jamie Foxx: Nico, a yellow Canary
Georger Lopez: Rafael, a Toucan
Tracy Morgan: Luiz, a bulldog
Jemaine Clement: Nigel, a Cockatoo

The story pitting good guys vs. bad guys is frequently put on hold for a musical interlude most often the samba that is so much part of the vibrant city of Rio de Jeneiro. It’s charming, very colourful and there’s a realistic rendering of the animals and birds.

Anyone older than 10 will probably find the humour to be mildly amusing, not the laugh-out-loud sort. It lacks the jokes geared to the adults that goes over the head of the kids so children will get a bigger kick out of it, this despite the absence of the rude body noises they have come to expect.

for mild off color humor.

The producers have gone to great lengths to capture the reality of Rio even to the extent of the wavy sidewalk pattern along the beach front and correctly showing the Rio Samba School Parade taking place within the grandstand area rather than out on the city streets.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Science fiction thriller

Jake Gyllenhaal: U.S. Army helicopter pilot Captain Colter Stevens
Michelle Monaghan: 28-year-old Christina Warren
Vera Farmiga: Air Force Capt. Colleen Goodwin
Jeffrey Wright: Source Code inventor Dr. Rutledge

Sci-fi fans will immediately recognize the time loop plot device in which time runs normally for a set period (in this case 8 minutes) then resets to the beginning and repeats as many times as required.

Couple that with the newest technology that allows the US military to use “time reassignment” that sends the subject to a place in time as someone other than himself and you have the makings of a very entertaining hour and a half.

There are some really good performances, the action is fast paced and the CGI quite good. My only one serious complaint is the fact the 8 minute sequences soon become a bit tiresome. Fewer sometimes is better.

for some violence including disturbing images, and for language.

1. The Rotating product placement is one of my favourite nitpicks: from one shot to the next the item in question moves about without being touched so that the brand name is clearly seen. In this instance it is the Dunking Donuts bag on the seat beside Christina.
2. Colter gets off the Chicago-bound commuter train at the Glenbrooke station (the thinly disguised real Glenview station) and the platform clock behind him correctly shows the time to be 7:43 (the scheduled time for train #2116) the but the clock in the trackside station tower reads 4:10.
3. Colter passes by several bikes getting to the exit door; bikes are not permitted on this early morning train.
4. Given that the train is travelling north to south and he alights on the left hand side he would be in early morning shadow not bright sunlight.
5. The crane shot above the platform clearly shows downtown Chicago to be reasonably close; Glenbrooke station is a good 20 miles from the city.
6. Later with the train speeding towards its destination seeing Lake Erie on the right hand side means our point of view is from the East whereas train # 2116 is coming from the north.
7. Colter Is given a phone number to call beginning with 465. There is no such area code in the United States.

Canadian comic Russell Peters plays it mostly straight but does have one stand-up routine worth a chuckle.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


Romantic drama

Mia Wasikowska: 19-year-old Jane Eyre (pronounced jane air)
Jamie Bell: Reverend St. John Rivers
Holliday Grainger: one of his sisters Diana
Tamzin Merchant: the other sister Mary
Michael Fassbender: wealthy Edward Fairfax Rochester
Judi Dench: his housekeeper Mrs. Fairfax
Romy Settbon Moore: 10-year-old or so Adele

Full disclosure: the story definitely has more appeal to women so keep that in mind when considering the following “unbiased” review.

This latest effort from the BBC Studios proves once again that no one does period drama better than the British in terms of high production values.

However it comes up short in four other areas:
1. The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge said that “if a writer could infuse human interest and a semblance of truth into a fantastic tale then likely the reader would suspend judgment concerning the implausibility of the narrative”. Certainly that is a requirement with regard to the romantic aspect of the story. In a word, it does not ring true.
2. The acting is all over the place: Wasikowska and Judi Dench are great, Fassbender does a decent job but Sally Hawkins is rather lacklustre.
3. The film goes on far too long at just over two hours.
4. But worst than that they squandered away a key element as one audience member so succinctly put it “the ending is far too abrupt and not nearly as satisfying as in the original novel by Charlotte BrontĂ«”.

for some thematic elements including a nude image (it’s a painting for Pete’s sake, why so harsh?) and brief violent content (very brief and not very violent).


War drama
Some dialogue in Dutch and German with English subtitles.
Original title: Oorlogswinter

In May 1940 Germany attacked France though the Low Countries. Thus began the occupation of Holland by the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.

Martijn Lakemeier: 14-year old Michiel van Beusekom
Jess van Driel: his friend Theo
Raymond Thiry: Michiel’s father Jacob, the town mayor
Jamie Campbell Bower: Jack, downed British paratrooper
Yorick van Wageningen: Michiel’s Uncle Ben
Melody Klaver: Michiel’s sister Erica, a nurse

No doubt based on a true story the plight of the Dutch during the occupation created conflict and questionable loyalties even among families. Seen from the perspective of a 14-year-old makes it even more difficult to completely understand the situation.

The unhurried pace allows time to better appreciate the seriousness of the situation and the great attention to detail makes it all that much more believable.

for some language. This is hardly justified: two, maybe three f-words to me is not sufficiient reason for such a harsh rating. PG would be more appropriate.