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Twister


1996 Threatical movie

Written by Michael Crichton and Anne-Marie Martin. Directed by Jan de Bont.

Starring Helen, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, and Jami Gert.

In 1996 storm chaser Jo, played by Helen Hunt, meets up with her ex, Bill, played by Bill Paxton, to sign divorce papers. But a tornado is on the rise and Jo has DOROTHY, a tornado recording device dreamed up by Bill before he went off to work as a weatherman. Jo, Bill, and Bill's fiance Melissa, played by Jami Gertz, hop into his truck and off they go chasing twisters. They have to beat rival Jonas, played by Cary Elwes before he deploys his version of DOROTHY. So, the chase is on.

Tornado after tornado defeat our would be researchers almost killing them several times. Miles of farmland gets eaten up, cows fly, and the remains of shattered buildings whiz through the air impaling things and crashing to earth, often right in front of speeding vehicles.

Twister is full of exciting special effects and great editing. The tornados feel real. Cars driving down the road never get boring. No scene lingers over long or gets cut too short.

The plot and characters are pretty predictable. If you are looking for sensitive, emotional development, this isn't the film to watch. But if you want a fun, exciting romp through death-defying weather, check out Twister.

Reviewed by Romana Drew November 15, 2018.



Nim's Island


2008 Theatical Movie

Kid's Adventure

Directed by Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin. Starring Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster, and Gerard Butler

Based on Nim's Island by Wendy Orr

Twelve-year-old Nim Ruso, played by Abigail Breslin, lives on a tropical island with her marine biologist father, Jack, played by Gerard Butler, and a menagerie of animals. When her father is lost at sea and tourists invade the island, she emails Alex Rover, also played by Gerard Butler, for help. But Alex Rover is a fictional character created by agoraphobic writer Alexandra Rover, played by Jodie Foster.

Nim's Island is reminiscent of Swiss Family Robinson with a bit of Doctor Doolittle and Home Alone thrown in. But for the most part, it works.

The credits are reminiscent of a puppet show with cutout waves and boats on sticks. Although having a whale swallow a boat is a bit silly.

There are some rough areas. No one who loves animals would slingshot lizards at people. Alexandra Rover overcomes her agoraphobia too easily, and she gets from San Francisco to the island in an unbelievably short period of time. Sea Lions stink. Sleeping with one would be really smelly.

Nim is a self-sufficient girl who loves her father and her life. She climbs rocks and trees, eats strange plants and mealworms, rides zip lines, and meets every challenge with spunk.

Gerard does a great job as both the hapless father and the imaginary, tongue in cheek, Alex Rover.

Nim's Island is a fun movie to watch with the kids, or by yourself when you want some lighthearted adventure.

Reviewed by Roman Drew November 8, 2018.



Flight of the Navigator


1986 Theatrical Movie

Kids Science Fiction Adventure

Directed by Randal Kleiser. Staring Joey Cramer, Cliff De Young, Veronica Cartwright, Howard Hesseman, and Paul Reubens as the voice of Max.

In 1978, twelve-year-old David Freeman, played by Joey Cramer, falls into a ravine. When he climbs out, eight years have passed, but he is still twelve-years-old. His little brother is now a teenager, and although his parents are overjoyed to see him, he doesn't quite fit in.

Dr. Louis Faraday, played by Howard Hesseman, discovers that David's brainwaves can program computers to show pictures of spaceships and other highly technical information. At the same time, At the same time, NASA captures a crashed spaceship. The spaceship's pilot needs the navigational information in David's mind to get home. David needs to get back to 1978.

Although there is a spaceship, advanced technology, time dilation, time travel, and other things typically found in space adventures, The Flight of the Navigator never leaves Earth. David must thread his way though officials who want to study him and a family he no longer understands. Once aboard the ship, he must contend with Max, the eccentric robotic pilot.

Even though Max is only a light on the end of an arm, he has a great personality and rates as one of the stars of the movie.

This light-hearted move doesn't take itself too seriously. It is fast paced and full of fun, a great movie for kids.

Reviewed by Romana Drew October 28, 2018

Bednobs and Broomsticks


1971, 1976, 1996 Theatrical Movie

Kids Fantasy Adventure

Based on books by Mary Norton

Directed by Robert Stevenson. Starring Angela Lansbury, David Tomlinson, Ian Weighill, Cindy O'Callaghan, Roy Snart

Songs: Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman

During the blitz, Miss Eglantine Price reluctantly agrees to care for three kids from London, Charlie, Carrie, and Paul even though she is learning witchcraft through a correspondence school. When the school closes before sending her the last and most important spell, she and the children go in search of the school's director and the last spell, via a magic bed.

The 1971 theater version ran 117 minutes. That was shortened to 96 minutes for the 1979 release, and remade into a 139 minute version for the 1996 rerelease.

I am pretty sure I first saw the 1979, 96 minute version. This time I watched the 117 minute original release. It makes a difference. The added scenes, are long, repetitive, and do nothing to further the plot. For example, in the 96 minute version, the Portobello Road scene lasts a little over three minutes. The singing and searching for the spell move along at a good clip.

In the 117 minute version, Portobello road has ten minutes of dancing. At first, it is interesting but quickly gets repetitive as does some of the underwater dancing. Although, there is brief scene with a dancer who could teach Michael Jackson a thing or two about moon walking.

The live action/animation is a little primitive by today's standards, but it fits the movie. The animated soccer game was fun. But the battle at the end drags on for too long before anything happens.

This is a fine movie to watch with younger children, but I highly recommend the shorter version.

Reviewed by Romana Drew October 26, 2018.

12:01
1993 TV movie

Sci-Fi Comedy Thriller

Adapted from "12:01 PM," a short story by Richard Lupoff.

Directed by Jack Sholder. Starring Jonathan Silverman, Helen Slater, Jeremy Piven, Martin Landau

Barry Thomas, played by Jonathan Silverman, pines after coworker Lisa Fredericks, played by Helen Slater. He works in personnel shifting papers around. She is one of the top scientists working on a new but faulty particle accelerator. Barry finally gets up the courage to talk to Lisa at lunch. After work, he follows her out of the building, determined to talk to her again, but before he can get close, she is shot to death.

He gets drunk and falls into bed around midnight. At one minute after midnight, he reaches for the light next to his bed and gets zapped. He wakes up the next day, but it is yesterday morning, again.

Particle accelerators use electromagnets to send sub atomic particles, like electrons and protons whizzing along a tube so they can collide with other subatomic particles and get measured or photographed. If you can get past the ridiculous premise that a faulty particle accelerator can send the entire universe into twenty-four hour time loop, the rest of the movie works great.

With each loop, Barry gets closer to discovering who activated the faulty accelerator and better at wooing Lisa. The requisite plot twists and dead ends are clever and well executed. This is a fast paced, witty movie, with a somewhat predictable but charming ending.




Dune

1984 - Theatrical Version

science fiction - action adventure

Based on the 1965 Frank Herbert novel Dune

Directed by David Lynch. With Kyle MacLachlan as Paul Atreides, Francesca Annis as Lady Jessica, Jose Ferrer as Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV, Patrick Stewart as Gurney Halleck, and Alicia Roanne Witt as Alia Atreides.

Dune begins with Princess Irulan, played by Virginia Madsen, explaining the relationships between the ruling houses and the importance of spice. These scenes are beautifully photographed, and Ms. Madsen gives a riveting performance. After that, it loses focus, turning into a jumbled mess.

The acting is great and special effects are lavish and spectacular, although a few scenes are not quite up to present day standards. On a big screen, the worms would be truly frightening.

Although, this movie is faithful to the book, it is way to short to do the story justice. The large cast and complex story just won't fit into 2 hours 17 minutes. Dune jumps from event to event without taking the time to flesh out characters or explain what they are doing or why.

I first watched Dune in a theater in 1984. I had recently read the novel, so my mind filled in the missing material. As I remember, I enjoyed the move. But that was years ago and the details of the story have faded. If my memory is correct, the 2000 TV mini series had a much better grasp of the characters and properly fleshed out the story.

I can't really recommend this movie unless you have just finished the novel. If you have never read the novel, give this one a pass.

Reviewed by Romana Drew September 18, 2018

Stardust


2007 PG 13

romantic comedy - fantasy adventure

Based on the 1999 Neil Gaiman novel Stardust

Directed by Matthew Vaughn with Claire Danes as Yvaine, the Fallen Star, Charlie Cox as Tristan Thorn, the clueless hero, and Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia, the evil witch.

Tristen lives in Wall, named for the wall that divides England from the magical kingdom of Stormhold. When he sees a star fall into Stormhold, he promises to find it for the pretty, but flaky Victoria.

In Stormhold, he finds the fallen star is a beautiful woman named Yvaine. Unbeknownst to either of them, the necklace she wears has the gem the dying king tossed into the sky for his sons to find. Tristen wants to take Yvaine home as a gift for Victoria, as illogical as that might be. The king's sons want the gem so they can be king. And the evil witch, Lamia, wants to eat Yvaine's heart to gain everlasting life and beautify. So the adventure begins.

The king had six sons. As Stormhold tradition demands, only the remaining son may wear the gemstone and inherit the throne. So one by one, the sons kill each other. The ghosts of the dead sons follow the living ones around the movie making for some good tongue in cheek humor.

This is a lighthearted movie that doesn't take itself seriously. There are good performances by Peter O'Toole as the dying king and Robert De Niro as the cross-dressing Captain Shakespeare.

Even though the violence and risque humor are quite mild, it does deserve a PG13 rating. This is a gentle fun movie, definitely worth a watch.

Reviewed by Romana Drew September 10, 2018