Friday, April 26, 2013

Treasure Planet (2002)

Number Rolled: 89
Movie Name/Year: Treasure Planet (2002)
Genre: Children & Family
Length: 95 minutes
Rating: PG
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Writer: Robert Louis Stevenson, Ron Clements, John Musker, Rob Edwards, Ted Elliott, Terry Rossio
Actors: Roscoe Lee Browne, Corey Burton, Dane A. Davis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tony Jay, Austin Majors, Patrick McGoohan, Michael McShane, Laurie Metcalf, Brian Murray, David Hyde Pierce, Martin Short, Emma Thompson, Michael Wincott

What do you get when you cross Treasure Island with a Science Fiction universe? You get Treasure Planet. A young boy grows up reading pirate stories, but starts acting out when his father abandons him and his mother. After many instances of trouble with the law, his mother is fed up. Of course, that’s before he brings a dying man into the house that brings with him a heap of trouble. When it all comes down to a map that may, or may not, lead to the very same Treasure Planet the boy grew up reading about; a family friend convinces his mother that it would be character building for him to go.

Oh, and this all takes place in space.

I don’t care how old you are. Sometimes you just need something light-hearted and innocent. On those days, a Disney movie will almost always hit the spot. Made in the form of cartoons that stimulate a child’s imagination, these movies usually have plenty of references and subtle jokes for the adults in the audience. This movie definitely fits that description. With references to Star Trek and Jaws (among other things) and an in depth story line, this movie is something that could engross people of any age.

I always feel a little disappointed when I watch a Disney movie with no original music. Yeah, we don’t NEED to watch pirates spontaneously burst into song, but Disney’s had singing clock in the past! Alright, if I get past my strange desire to watch anamorphic creations erupt into musical numbers, I can admit that the movie really didn’t need it. It was a spectacular film.

After watching this movie, I am left wondering what other childhood favorites I’d love to see cross genres. Imagine “Black Beauty” as a horror film or “The Secret Garden” as a fantasy. I believe fiercely in the protection of our creations. Star Wars and Indiana Jones are awesome, they don’t need refurbishing. However, I also believe in using our past creations to shape the future. In other words, I’m fully capable of believing that something like “Treasure Planet” can exist in the same breath as “Treasure Island” without cheapening the original story. It wasn’t made to replace the original, just to exist beside it as another option.

For the record, I teared up at one point near the end enough that I actually made fun of myself. Take that as you will.

Overall Opinion – 5/5

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Toxic Skies (2008)

Number Rolled: 70
Movie Name/Year: Toxic Skies (2008)
Genre: Thriller
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Andrew C. Erin
Writer: Andrew C. Erin, Kyle Hart
Actors: Anne Heche, James Tupper, Tobias Slezak, Daniel Bacon, Kevin McNulty, Barclay Hope, Nicola Anderson, Cheryl Uphill, Laura Bertram, Jamie Switch, Patricia Mayen-Salazar, David Milchard, Ralph Alderman, Gerry Rousseau, Todd Zatwarnitski, Colin Decker, Carolyn Adair, Peter Abrams, Michael Cromien

There is an outbreak of a serious and fatal virus sweeping across the nation, after seeming to first spring up in the state of Washington. Dr. Tess Martin, a highly respected virologist, is called into the hospital to aid the locals in discovering what kind of virus is plaguing the patients. She is soon met by a mysterious man who does his best to convince her that the outbreak is part of a government conspiracy.

This was a watered-down version of “Outbreak” (1995). It followed the same basic recipe, almost to the very letter. The only real differences were some of the relationships between the characters, some minor plot details and the fact that Anne Heche and James Tupper couldn’t hold a candle to Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying either Heche or Tupper are terrible actors.  They both did alright in this movie and I don’t know enough about them outside of it to make any general assessments otherwise. I’ve only seen one other movie with Anne Heche, “I Know What You Did Last Summer”, and I haven’t seen that since it came out in 1997. I’ve only seen James Tupper in “Me & Orson Wells” which I only watched the one time when I did it for an earlier entry in this blog. They did well enough in this movie to keep something highly predictable and overdone from being crap, but they only really pulled it up to mediocre. I wouldn’t choose, or pass up on, another movie because of either of them.

If I’m going to watch this kind of movie, in the future, I’ll wind up choosing “Outbreak” over “Toxic Skies” any day of the week.

Aside from that, I have one issue with this brand of story. I have a couple of the greatest doctors ever (in my opinion), but I have never had a doctor as nice or invested as they are portrayed in these movies – and my doctor was at my Sweet Sixteen. I think that’s the main reason I watch these movies without getting engulfed. It’s supposed to feel real and it just doesn’t to me.

Overall Opinion – 2.5/5

Monday, April 22, 2013

Jumanji (1995)

Number Rolled: 92
Movie Name/Year: Jumanji (1995)
Genre: Children and Family
Length: 104 minutes
Rating: PG
Director: Joe Johnston
Writer: Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor, Jim Strain, Chris Van Allsburg
Actors: Robin Williams, Jonathan Hyde, Kirsten Dunst, Bradley Pierce, Bonnie Hunt, Bebe Neuwirth, David Alan Grier, Patricia Clarkson, Adam Hann-Byrd, Laura Bell Bundy, James Handy, Gillian Barber

In the 1960’s, Alan, a young boy plagued by a busy father and many bullies, finds a strange game buried in his family’s factory. He brings it home and convinces his friend, Sarah, to play with him. His turn, however, finds him sucked into the game for over twenty years. Only when two children (Judy and Peter) find the game again, and one of them rolls a five, is Alan freed. Unfortunately, they learn they must finish the game in order to undo the harm that was done by starting it.

This movie got very mixed reviews, but I’m on the side that thinks it’s fantastic. It was just over an hour and a half, but I would swear it was shorter. You might think watching people play a board game would be dull (unless you’re a fan of Tabletop with Wil Wheaton, of course) but it’s got a constant flow of story line that keeps it interesting.

I have an advantage for this particular review. Jumanji is a children’s movie so watching it as an adult only gives me a single perspective. However, the first time I saw this, I was around twelve years old. For this reason, I have the unique ability to review this movie from the perspective of a child as well. I remember watching the movie back then. I didn’t quite get the base moral of the story (at least not consciously) but it fed my imagination and kept me glued to the screen even then. As an adult watching one of my childhood favorites, I’m always worried that it’s going to seem different or bad. A lot of the time, that’s exactly what happened. Not with this movie, though. I found that I still enjoyed it just as much and that there were enough nuances for adults to keep me enthralled.

Long story short, I loved this movie in 1995, as a child as much as I do now, in 2013, as an adult. To be honest, I don’t see why it got mixed reviews. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but I don’t think I could come up with a good reason for it to be marked as “bad.”

Also, not-for-nothing, if this game existed, I would play it. I mean, the board game is available on, but obviously not with the same effects as the one in the movie. I wouldn’t play it often, but I would definitely play it. As it is, I’m contemplating getting a copy of the mundane version for my collection. Board games are not just for kids! If you think they are, you should really go take a look at the more complex games that are out there now-a-days.

Overall Opinion – 4/5