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Movie review

  • 2005-12-21
The Family Stone
Narnia
King Kong

The Family Stone
The oldest son of the Stone family brings his uptight girlfriend home for the holidays. She doesn't, to put it mildly, fit in with the family and they're less than thrilled about the prospect of her becoming an official member of their tight little unit. "The Family Stone" isn't entirely what you might expect from a Christmas-flick. It's a quite clever, funny and occasionally daring comedy with an unexpectedly sharp edge. In fact, there are a couple of scenes that deliver some of the same humiliation as in "Meet the Parents" - though just a few. But of course, the movie had to have the overblown sentimental Hollywood ending, which ruins everything. It's completely forgettable when it's over, but it's surprisingly entertaining while it's on.
( Julie Vinten )

You can always rely on Hollywood to cater to all tastes at Christmas time. If noble apes or white witches don't do it for you, here is a gut-wrenchingly manipulative and sentimental story of a dysfunctional family overcoming their differences to remind us that blood is thicker than slush. "The Family Stone" will doubtless have many people in tears. It almost had me in tears but for all the wrong reasons. Debut director Bezucha clearly knows how to polish a stone when he sees one, but all his polishing fails to reveal a real gem in the end, but the sort of stone you pick up on the beach and then bring home in your pocket, where you put it on a shelf only to never look at it or think about it again.
( Tim Ochser )

Narnia
During WWII, four children are sent to safety in an English countryside manor house. One day they discover a wardrobe that miraculously leads to the land of Narnia, which is ruled by an evil witch. The children soon discover that only they can bring back freedom to Narnia. Talking animals, breathtaking scenery and a battle between fantastical creatures 's there is no reason why the whole family shouldn't have a great time. The feature is adapted from C.S. Lewis' 1950 novel, and the book's Christian themes of sacrifice and forgiveness have not been cast away, but Narnia thankfully isn't a preachy movie. It's "Lord of the Rings" for children 's not the fainthearted, mind you 's and accomplishes the desired epic feel through adventure, magic and fine visual effects.
1/2 ( Julie Vinten )

Another Christmas, another movie franchise is born. C.S. Lewis' classic story of four siblings who find an enchanted world on the other side of a wardrobe gets the big screen treatment, the first of a planned six installments. With or without the much-discussed Christian subtext, the film is really just another banal tale of good and evil that ends up being resolved on the battlefield. Lucy (Georgie Henley), the youngest of the children, gives a heart-warming performance in keeping with the spirit of the book and the ever-excellent Tilda Swinton is perfect as the White Witch. But C.S. Lewis was prescient enough to know that talking animals in film inevitably end up as anthropomorphic caricatures. Children will love it but it just doesn't have the epic appeal that made "Lord of the Rings" so special.
( Tim Ochser )

King Kong
Very impressive 's that about sums it up. Director Peter Jackson's remake of the 1933 original is a vast, ambitious project, and the degree of his success is remarkable. Sometime during the 1930's, broke actress Ann Darrow gets discovered by a struggling film director. Before reality sinks in, Ann finds herself sailing off to an uncharted island to shoot a feature. As fate turns out, the island is filled with unimaginable creatures such as the giant gorilla Kong. This feature is a roller coaster of thrilling, scary, funny, beautiful and emotional moments. The ride is so exhilarating its shortcomings prove insignificant. The computer-generated Kong looks unbelievably real, and the director's recreation of 1930's New York is amazing. The emotional connection between Ann and Kong has a truth and deepness that the original lacked entirely.
1/2 ( Julie Vinten )

I was so overwhelmed watching "King Kong" that its sheer brilliance didn't properly sink in until after I left the cinema. I was too busy reeling from the breathtaking special effects and action sequences, or else utterly absorbed by the painfully touching relationship between the mighty ape and Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts). Director Peter Jackson has created an epic masterpiece with his lovingly made remake, reincarnating Kong for modern audiences with a brilliant take on one of Hollywood's finest monster myths. From the opening sequence showing the wretched poverty of depression-era New York to the dizzying finale on top of the Empire State Building, "King Kong" skillfully handles the considerable weight of its material. Special effects and great storytelling have seldom been combined to better effect. Kong will leave you itching to return to the beast within.
1/2 ( Tim Ochser )
 

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