Monday, July 30, 2007

The Simpsons Movie

Posted by lea at 5:08 PM 2 comments Links to this post
I was laughing even before the movie began, when Ralph starts singing along to the 20th Century Fox intro: ‘da da da DA da da da DA!’

The first half, particularly, is a diverse bag of laughs as the characters do as they usually do – only magnified. In the movie, Flanders plays surrogate father to Bart, Lisa falls in love with the son of an Irish rock star (‘no, not Bono!’) and Bart shows what he’s made of in all his full frontal glory – and it would appear that no, they haven’t dropped yet. But it’s Homer’s show from there. The usually loveable and forgiveable Homer loses the advantage of the 30 minute timeslot, so his slovenly, selfish, stupid antics go to the point of near-unbearability. But fortunately, he (and Springfield) are rescued in the end.

Hang around during the credits to see Maggie speak her first word, and a few other little bits and pieces among the thousand Korean names (my name’s up there: Hyun Joo Park!).

Rating: 7/10
A good job but clearly the work of the current mob, therefore not as clever as the earlier episodes.

Amazing Grace

Posted by lea at 1:58 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Great cast, excellent historical character (William Wilberforce) and brilliant theme (abolition of slavery), but the movie, in itself, was a little boring. Its main problem was that it lacked major peaks and troughs, so it failed to engage that sense of imagination and inspiration that a movie of this sort really needs to grab hold of. Most of the film sailed by in a very join-the-dots type monotony, saved only by some of the witty repartees during parliament sessions and the more quote-worthy comments. I recognised that there were moments where I was supposed to be moved, but I just wasn’t. I felt like a spectator.

Rating: 6/10
While it’s a very respectful adaptation of his life, I don’t think the movie does justice to his story.

Twelve Sharp, by Janet Evanovich

Posted by lea at 1:54 PM 0 comments Links to this post
This is the twelfth (mis)adventure of Stephanie Plum, bounty hunter heroine of Trenton. As usual, her personal life is a trainwreck caught between two stations – good-hearted hot cop Joe Morelli and mysterious man of danger, Ranger – and she somehow manages to catch the bad guys based purely on instinct, bravado and street sense.

In this instalment, Ranger’s daughter is kidnapped by ‘un-Ranger’, an elusive wannabe who tries to steal Ranger’s identity and life – including his complicated relationship with Stephanie. She’s landed (of course) plum in the middle of the whole explosive situation as live bait.

The Stephanie Plum series is a really great read thanks to Janet Evanovich’s first person narrative, which is funny, warm and witty. Stephanie Plum herself is a streetsmart, disarming and very endearing character who you just can’t help rooting for and laughing at. The plot is plumped up by a whole host of funny secondary characters (like the larger than life Lula and Stephanie’s unconventional trouble-prone grandmother) who make the read all the more worthwhile.

For me, the twelfth book is much of the same same, but I imagine many people keep reading Evanovich for that precise reason. I wouldn’t mind seeing some resolution on the whole Morelli-Plum-Ranger sexual tension, but this book simply ups the ante, which adds to my frustration. The laugh-out-loud moments are still there, but the laughter is a little muted because I’ve been there before so many times in the previous books. For those who are as yet uninitiated in the life of Stephanie Plum, Evanovich does a great job of setting the scene so you can start at any book without going from the beginnning. It's worth reading an excerpt if you're interested.

Rating: 6.5/10
Lots of action but not enough forward progress.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia

Posted by lea at 4:33 PM 0 comments Links to this post
A lovely, gentle look at the friendship between Jesse, an artistic young boy from a poor family, and Leslie, a vibrant girl with a vivid imagination. Their friendship burgeons from bullying in the schoolyard (both on the receiving end) and a mutual love of running. It becomes cemented as they create together the imaginary world of Terabithia – an escape from poverty, loneliness, bullies and the real world.

I remember the book as the first traumatic realistic death in fiction encountered during my primary school years – not a frail elderly secondary character, but a main character so promisingly full of life and potential. A character I could relate to and really liked. The movie, like the book, was able to engage the viewer into the world of the two kids, and give an honest and realistic portrayal of kids dealing with real issues.

The actors did a fantastic job and the movie was beautifully filmed. It’s a real tearjerker of a story for its emotional depth and rawness, and a very good counterpoint to the usual unrealistic feelgood kids’ movies (eg Cheaper by the Dozen, Mean Girls, Agent Cody Banks etc)

Rating: 8/10
Simple, real, honest and sad.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Knocked Up

Posted by lea at 3:31 PM 0 comments Links to this post
What happens when a beautiful TV presenter (Alison) falls pregnant to an overweight slacker (Ben) from a drunken one night stand? That’s the subject of this movie – getting to know each other better, finding the right gynaecologist, being too scared to tell your boss you’re pregnant, worrying about money to support the baby… sounds really serious but the Knocked Up crew manage to make it all really funny without turning the situation into a farce.

And it’s not just all about Alison and Ben – the secondary characters really add to the story too. Ben’s friends are hilarious as a group of slackers trying to make a fortune from their web idea ‘Flesh of the Stars’. And it’s great to see Ursula from George of the Jungle and Josh from Clueless together as Alison’s sister and brother-in-law, who are trying to make their marriage work. It’s refreshing to see a Hollywood movie that shows the unglamorous and adult side of marriage in a way that manages to find humour in the everyday.

Great scenes:
- Ben talking to his dad about having kids
- the bouncer talking to Alison’s sister outside the nightclub
- almost every inane conversation amongst Ben’s friends

Rating: 8/10
Very enjoyable movie – funny and easy to watch, but be prepared for a lot of profanity.

Friday, July 6, 2007


Posted by lea at 1:40 PM 1 comments Links to this post
How can something so Bay be so good?

Although director Michael Bay has copped a lot of flack for some of his previous movies, he won’t be paying for another drink for a long time after this effort. With this one film, he managed to please the hardcore Fanaticons who had any part of their (extended) childhood in the 80s, as well as the more newly initiated Transformers-fanbase – including my 10 and 12 year old nephews who went in expecting something ‘kinda lame’ and left the cinema begging for Optimus Prime and Bumblebee toys.

The effects were truly incredible and have to be seen to be believed. The Autobots and Decepticons literally transform before your eyes from cool-looking vehicles (lucky GM!) into giant alien robots and back again. You could practically feel the testosterone levels rise each time they transformed, and the scenes were invariably accompanied by a duly respectful rippling of woahs across the cinema.

The plot was brisk and full of action and humour that was carried brilliantly by the computerised robots and human characters alike. I’ve never seen Shia LaBeouf before, but he totally won me over as the fast-talking, smart-mouthed, hormone charged teenager Sam Witwicky: ‘It's a robot. You know, like a super advanced robot. It's probably Japanese.’

Somehow, the movie seems to have successfully bridged that gap between genders and ages, because everyone I know who's seen the movie - from my hard-nosed sister to my pre-teen nephews, arguably grown-up boyfriend and my 7-month pregnant flatmate (and the unborn baby in her stomach who was kicking up a storm during the movie) - genuinely enjoyed Transformers.

And by the way, you absolutely have to check out the Real Transformers. Seriously, the lengths some fans will go to...

Rating: 9.5/10
Did what a movie should do: absorbed you fully into another world, engaging your emotions and humour. So why the missing 0.5? Well it wasn't exactly... you know, like, 'deep'.

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