30 September 2013

Quickie Movie Reviews for September 2013

Rated: PG for mild action and some rude humor
Starring: Taylor Lautner, Taylor Dooley, and Cayden Boyd
Released: June 10, 2005 (theatrical release) / September 20, 2005 (DVD)
The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D: The first two Spy Kids movies were great; the third one, not so much.  However, even that was better than this mess, which suffers from cheesy special effects and an inane plot.  Though this movie has become popular recently thanks to Taylor Lautner appearing in Twilight, I can't imagine that even fans of that vampire romance would like this, unless they can't refrain from drooling over Jacob Black in any form.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: None. 5/5
  • Nudity: Mild cleavage. 4.75/5
  • Language: Some name-calling. 4.5/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Violence: Plenty of "TV-Y7"-style fantasy violence is present here.  The kids fight against alien enemies, but there is no blood or gore.  Also, some of the bullying involves kids throwing things at each other. 4/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Some of the monsters and other beings on the "dream planet" could scare some kids; I particularly thought the computer-generated fish were hideous. 3/5
  • Other: Some crude humor is present. 4/5
Score: 1.75/5

Rated: PG-13 for thematic elements and brief disturbing images
Starring: Eduardo Verástegui, Tammy Blanchard, and Manny Perez
Released: October 26, 2007 (wide theatrical release) / May 6, 2008 (DVD)
Bella: Though this film was heralded as the best of the year by critics and movie watchers nationwide, I only found it moderately enjoyable. Sure, the story was moving, and the makers showed admirable restraint for a "PG-13" film, but it still felt slightly lackluster, especially with the ambiguous ending. If you have yet to see Bella, it might be worth borrowing from your local library, but I definitely wouldn't recommend purchasing this unless you got it really cheap.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: The whole movie centers around an unmarried woman's unplanned pregnancy, though no one is seen in bed together. 3.5/5
  • Nudity: Nina's midriff is seen in one scene. 4.5/5
  • Language: Nina says someone is "such a piece of...", but she is cut off before she can finish that statement. 4.5/5
  • Drugs: A pregnant woman is seen smoking.  A family drinks alcohol at the dinner table, but one person politely refuses because she is pregnant.  Nina mentions that she misused drugs as a teen, but only to say how wrong it was. 3.5/5
  • Violence: A hit-and-run accident kills someone, and the bloody results are briefly seen.  A woman bangs her head against a mirror out of stress.  3.75/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: The hit-and-run incident mentioned above is made even more tragic by the fact that a little girl is the victim, and her mother is shown losing her mind when she sees it. 3/5
  • Other: In addition to unplanned pregnancy, abortion is mentioned, which is not a kid-friendly theme.  Also, some of the dialogue is spoken in Spanish with English subtitles, which would also frustrate young viewers. 3/5
Score: 3.5/5

Rated: Not Rated (Dove approved for ages twelve and up)
Starring: Janine Turner, Mike Norris, and Amanda Alch
Released: August 28, 1998 (Disney Channel premiere) / January 8, 2002 (VHS)
Birdie and Bogey: Despite the critical drubbings they tend to get, I usually enjoy Christian-themed films, but I didn't care for this one.  The title character of Birdie was rather bratty and annoying, so much so that I was waiting for her to die, as the back cover of the DVD said she would.  With big names such as Janine Turner and Chuck Norris attached to this project, you'd expect it to be a hit; instead, it was a mere dud.  It was so terrible that I couldn't finish it; I seriously wished I was playing Mario Golf on my Game Boy Color instead.

Content Concerns: I didn't watch the entire thing, but the best thing I can say about it is that the content was very clean.

Score: 1.5/5

Rated: TV-G
Starring: Erik Von Detten, Sam Horrigan, and Christina Vidal
Released: August 28, 1998 (Disney Channel premiere) / January 8, 2002 (VHS)
Brink!: I missed out on a lot of the Disney Channel Original Movies in the past, because I didn't like anything on there other than the sitcoms.  Now that I'm a bit more mature and have broader tastes, I've found that I can appreciate DCOMs better than before.  This particular movie has some crazy rollerblading action, and was gripping enough to make me want to see it through to the end, even though I couldn't care less about sports, even of the "extreme" variety.  I knew that the Mouse network knows how to make a telefilm, and they did just that with this one.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: None. 5/5
  • Nudity: None. 5/5
  • Language: One use of the h-word, and two misuses of God's name. 4/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Violence: Some of the extreme sports action leads to injuries, including one incident where scrapes are left on a skater's arm. 3.75/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: The scenes where the skaters get injured are a bit wince-inducing. 4/5
  • Other: "Brink" and others show disregard for school rules by skating on school property.  Also, Brink goes behind his parents' back by skating for a sponsored team. 3.5/5
Score: 4.5/5

Rated: TV-G
Starring: Camille Guaty, America Ferrera, and Susan Egan
Released: July 26, 2002 (Disney Channel premiere)
Gotta Kick It Up!: Before Rocky and CeCe "shook it up," this was how the Mouse network did dance.  The dance moves were impressive, the production values were great, and the entire Latina cast was quite good-looking.  I've said before that Disney Channel knows how to make telefilms; this is further proof.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Some of the dance moves were a bit suggestive. 4/5
  • Nudity: Bare midriffs and off-the-shoulder tops are seen a few times; short shorts/skirts, even more often. 3.5/5
  • Language: One misuse of God's name. 4.5/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Violence: None. 5/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Some slight emotional intensity. 4.5/5
  • Other: The girls break school rules at times to get what they want. 4/5
Score: 4.25/5

Rated: Not Rated (Dove approved for ages twelve and up)
Starring: John Schneider, Bill Cobbs, and Nicole Gale Anderson
Released: November 13, 2012 (DVD)
Lukewarm: Inspired by Revelation 3:15-16, this movie is both a hard-hitting drama and a morality play.  Though the acting was rough in a few spots, and the ending did feel slightly rushed, it's still a good movie with an excellent point.  I would caution parents that, because of the themes, this is not for young children; teens and older could understand and enjoy it, though.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: The two lead characters are "shacking up," but that is vilified.  It is implied that a guy is having one-night stands; also vilified. 3.5/5
  • Nudity: One female character wears a short skirt, and some slight cleavage is shown. 4/5
  • Language: One misuse of God's name and one h-word. 4.25/5
  • Drugs: The main character works at a bar, which makes alcoholic beverages and drunkenness referenced throughout, though it is vilified. 3.5/5
  • Violence: A man is killed in a car accident, and an elderly guy is attacked by three other men. 3/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: See "Violence". 3/5
  • Other: Someone becomes physically ill. 4/5
Score: 3.75/5

Rated: PG for action violence
Starring: Karan Ashley, Johnny Young Bosch, and Steve Cardenas
Released: June 30, 1995 (theaters) / November 21, 1995 (VHS) / September 2, 2003 (DVD)
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie: Like most people of my generation, the Power Rangers were right up there with Wishbone, Bill Nye, and Mario among my favorite entertainment characters.  I even saw this movie in the theaters all the way back in 1995, and vaguely remembered some of the scenes, including the ending.  What I didn't remember was the content issues--see below--and that some of the special effects were as cheesy as they were on the original Fox Kids show, though they look even worse in a movie setting.  Not only that, but, these "heroes" seem a bit wimpy, as their first reaction is to scream when encountering a monster instead of fight.  If you have recently discovered or re-discovered the Power Rangers thanks to Shout! Factory's recent DVD releases, this might be worth borrowing from your local library...but don't purchase this unless you see it at a yard sale for no more than a dollar.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: A bit of kissing. 4.5/5
  • Nudity: Kimberly spends the beginning of the movie in a midriff-baring outfit, and a female warrior wears something that looks like a bikini. 3.5/5
  • Language: Some name-calling. 4.5/5
  • Drugs: The main villain, Ivan Ooze, uses chemicals in his ooze to affect adults. 3.5/5
  • Violence: The heroes and villains battle it out throughout the movie.  All of the bad guys explode or disintegrate bloodlessly, though a rock monster is cut in half, Darth Maul-style. 3.25/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Ivan is rather scary, and the scene where he turns the parents of Angel Grove into zombies could creep some kids out.  Also, the Rangers encounter some animal skeletons, one of which comes to life. 2/5
  • Other: Some of the otherworldly powers may come too close to witchcraft for some viewers. 4/5

Score: 2.75/5

Rated: PG for some mild thematic elements
Starring: Kirk Cameron
Released: March 27, 2012 (theaters) / July 3, 2012 (DVD)
Monumental: Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains, Left Behind) sets out on a journey to figure out the truth behind the founding of our nation.  His discoveries, when contrasted with what is taught in public school and college textbooks, are both enlightening and scary.  Anyone who believes that the Founding Fathers and our forefathers were nothing but a bunch of atheists, agnostics, and deists should watch this film.  The only reason it's being criticized is because Mr. Cameron is spreading a message that some people don't want to hear.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Colonist raping the Native Americans is briefly mentioned. 4.5/5
  • Nudity: None. 5/5
  • Language: None. 5/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Violence: Some violent moments in history are mentioned, and the re-enactments, though mild, are slightly violent. 4.25/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Even the re-enactments that are not violent are a bit scary. 3.5/5
  • Other: The themes of this movie will likely confuse young kids. 4/5
Score: 4.75/5

Rated: PG for reasons unspecified by the MPAA
Starring: Leonard Nimoy, Orson Welles, and Casey Kasem
Released: August 8, 1986 (theaters) / November 7, 2000 (DVD)
The Transformers: The Movie: I know very little about the Transformers, but this movie was still enjoyable if only because it was a visual feast.  Though this film may have been made a few decades ago, the animation and effects are better than much of the recent 'toons that Cartoon Network has put out recently.  The hand-drawn animation is blended seamlessly with the CG, and, even though the story was the usual "good guys versus bad guys" thing we've all seen countless times, the technical mastery alone make it worth watching.  If you're tired of Michael Bay's efforts to revamp this old-school franchise, take a look at this one to see the big-screen version of the Transformers as they were originally intended to be, without excessive profanity or sultry young actresses.

Content Concerns:
  • Sex: Nothing worse than a car being called "sexy". 4.5/5
  • Nudity: None. 5/5
  • Language: Two profanities, and some slight name-calling. 4.25/5
  • Drugs: None. 5/5
  • Violence: As you'd expect in a movie like this, there is "action violence" throughout.  Though there isn't any blood or gore, several robots are sliced into pieces; one even dies. 3/5
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: Some of the evil robots are a little scary. 3.5/5
  • Other: Some slight crude humor. 4.5/5
Score: 3.5/5

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