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Rick's Flicks Picks on AWN


13 GOING ON 30 (2004) (***)

When I first saw the trailers for this film I groaned with the idea that Hollywood was going to the well again with the "kid in an adult body" flick. However, I was surprised to find this film having as much in common with BIG's premise as it does with IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE.

Jenna Rink (as an adult, Jennifer Garner, TV's ALIAS) is a 13-year-old girl who wants to be popular. Her best friend is a chubby boy who likes photography named Matt Flamhaff (as an adult, Mark Ruffalo, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME). For her birthday party, Jenna invites the popular crowd, lead by Lucy "Tom Tom" Wyman (as an adult, Judy Greer, THE VILLAGE) who really just wants Jenna to do her homework for her. An awkward moment between Jenna, Matt and Lucy leads to Jenna making a wish to be 30, which comes true. She wakes up and her 13-year-old self has been propelled into her 30-year-old life where she is the editor of her favorite fashion magazine and dating a hunky hockey player named Alex Carlson (Samuel Ball, PUMPKIN). Confused, Jenna seeks out Matt and finds out that she has not spoken to him since the infamous birthday party.


JU-ON: THE GRUDGE (2004) (***)

This film was the first theatrical release in the popular Japanese horror series and now it has come to theaters in the States (but a good indie video store may have an import to rent). Having seen the two preceding direct-to-videos in this series, I'm very aware of how this haunted house story came to be. This film recaps the murder that started the curse then jumps into how it continues.

Rika (Megumi Okina, ST. JOHN'S WORT) is a volunteer social worker, who is sent to the haunted house to check on an old woman (Chikako Isomura), who seems to be petrified with fear. Having seen the first two films in the series, I know what Rika is in for, but the film does a great job of creating its own dread. Once Rika is infected with the house's curse – the curse moves from person to person. As the film goes along, we learn more about the old woman's family and what happened to them inside the house. As the bodies pile up and others go insane, detective Toyama (Yoji Tanaka, TABOO), who has connections to the murders that started the curse, is assigned to investigate.


HERO (2004) (***1/2)

This film was released in 2002 in China and was nominated for the 2003 Academy award for best foreign film. It has since sat on the shelves at Miramax waiting for a theatrical release. If you like CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON or KILL BILL than you should love this film. If you love beautifully shot films that jump off the screen with vibrant color than you will fall in lust with this film.

Director Yimou Zhang is best known for his film RAISE THE RED LANTERN, which also had a wonderful use of color. HERO begins with a nameless warrior (Jet Li, THE ONE) traveling to meet the King of Qin (Daoming Chen, INFERNAL AFFAIRS III) after he has killed the top assassins Long Sky (Donnie Yen, BLADE II), Broken Sword (Tony Leung Chiu Wai, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE) and Flying Snow (Maggie Cheung, POLICE STORY). Aiding Broken Sword is his dutiful pupil Moon (Ziyi Zhang, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS).


DE-LOVELY (2004) (***)

This musical biography of Cole Porter is the first film that really deals with his bisexuality, which is good and bad at the same time. It's good because it is interesting to see a real life person from the '30s and '40s who was not ashamed about his sexuality. However, the film ends up dwelling on the struggle between Porter's homosexual urges and his love for his wife Linda (Ashley Judd, HEAT). Nonetheless, Kevin Kline (IN & OUT) leads a solid cast, which is lifted up past its problems on the wings of Porter wondrous songs.

The film has an ingenious structure having a dying Porter watching an otherworldly stage production of his life's story. Likewise, the film uses tons of Porter music as dramatic montages of the events in Porter's life. As the screenwriter Jay Cocks (THE AGE OF INNOCENCE) said at the screening I went to, "Porter said it better than I could." In many cases the Porter songs take on more complex meaning knowing they were probably not written solely about a woman. Porter was a worldly man who lived life for all its vices without an ounce of shame. This often made him come off as insensitive, though he never seems to have cruelty in his heart, or apologies on his lips. Cole and Linda had an arrangement, but it seems to be very one sided with Cole able to write emotional lyrics, but not understand them fully. In some way it seems he is in a desperate search of the ultimate love that he can only find in his songs.

Biopics are sometimes tough to make. Sometimes, they're just a highlight reel of the person's life. This film suffers from the opposite problem and seems stuck in first gear about Cole and Linda's relationship. This would be okay if the underlying themes were stronger like in the Iris Murdoch biopic, IRIS. Therefore, DE-LOVELY keeps an audience, which may not know much about Porter, in the dark about what made him so special in context to his place in history. One thing the film implies was that writing hit songs was no more difficult for him than signing his name.

The film is still enjoyable on a surface level. Kline and Judd are quite convincing in their roles and make you care about the characters. Then you get the music, which is the main reason to see this film. Big musical stars like Alanis Morissette, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall, Natalie Cole and Sheryl Crow all perform some of Porter's greatest tunes. I especially liked Morissette's rendition of "Let's Do It, Let's Fall In Love." In the end the film works as a tribute to Porter as a songwriter and an unashamed lover of life in general.


THE SEVENTH SEAL (1957) (****)

I love this film! This Swedish classic from Ingmar Bergman is a captivating journey into the time of the Black Plague. Most people will know this film from its human-looking version of Death (Bengt Ekerot, THE MAGICIAN), with his pale, hairless face and black hooded robes. He makes appearances in films like BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY and LAST ACTION HERO.

In this film, Death engages in a chess match with a soldier named Antonius Block (Max von Sydow, THE EXORCIST). Going into the film, I was expecting something very artsy and metaphorical. It is those things, but not at all in a pretentious way. The most surprising thing about the film is that it's often funny. Block and his squire Jons (Gunnar Bjornstrand, AUTUMN SONATA) are journeying back home after being involved in the Crusades for the past 10 years. Block is questioning his faith and Jons is convinced there is no God. They meet up with various people along their way — most notably an acting troupe led by Jof (Nils Poppe, THE ACTOR) along with his wife Mia (Bibi Andersson, PERSONA) and infant child Michael.


THE SIXTH SENSE (1999) (****)

M. Night Shyamalan became a name director with this film and hasn't looked back since. The film starts with psychiatrist Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis, DIE HARD) and his wife Anna Crowe (Olivia Williams, PETER PAN) as they celebrate Malcolm winning an award for his work, which has consumed his life. Then comes a tragic event that puts a bigger wedge between the couple. Malcolm seeks redemption in helping troubled child Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment, SECONDHAND LIONS), who claims to see dead people.

The core theme of the film is people learning to communicate with each other — Malcolm with Anna and Cole with his mother Lynn (Toni Collette, JAPANESE STORY). If you know anything about Shyamalan's films there is always a big "twist" revelation at the end. Knowing the twist and watching the film a second time, I was surprised at how engaging the film still was. It's because the twist is based in the characters not the plot. It's a revelation to the characters as much as it is to the audience.


RUNNING ON EMPTY (1988) (***1/2)

Sidney Lumet has made some of my favorite films, including NETWORK and DOG DAY AFTERNOON. This film has a wonderful premise, but a distracting focus. The story follows a family who are on the run from the FBI because in the 1970s the parents Annie (Christine Lahti, TV's CHICAGO HOPE) and Arthur Pope (Judd Hirsch, TV's TAXI) blew up a napalm factory, which unintentionally blinded and crippled a janitor who wasn't supposed to be there.

Annie and Arthur have two sons Danny (River Phoenix, INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE) and Harry (Jonas Abry, SLAVES OF NEW YORK). The family is constantly moving as the feds get wind of where they may be. Danny is becoming bitter about his life because he's about to graduate high school and won't be able to go to college to study music. The family moves to a new town and Danny starts to date his music teacher's daughter Lorna (Martha Plimpton, GOONIES). Danny is a piano phenomenon and the film focuses a lot on his struggles with his family's secrets and the loss of his freedom. As Danny's feelings become clear to Annie and Arthur, they must deal with the decision to let Danny leave or keep the family together.


SECRET WINDOW (2004) (***)

This psychological thriller from Stephen King presents a common protagonist for the writer — an author whose mental state is challenged. Based on a short story from King's collection FOUR PAST MIDNIGHT, writer/director David Koepp crafts his best directorial effort after writing scripts for such films as JURASSIC PARK, CARLITO'S WAY, SPIDER-MAN and PANIC ROOM.

Mort Rainey (Johnny Depp, ED WOOD) is a successful writer, who finds himself confronted by a man named John Shooter (John Turturro DO THE RIGHT THING), who claims that Mort stole his story. If this isn't enough to deal with, Mort is going through a divorce from his wife Amy (Monica Bello, THE COOLER), who he caught having an affair with Ted Milner (Timothy Hutton, ORDINARY PEOPLE). Mort is depressed and sleeps a lot. He talks to his dog and himself and begins to drink and smoke again. All of this is exaggerated by the increasingly creepier behavior of John Shooter. Eventually, Mort hires P.I. Ken Karsch (Charles S. Dutton, GOTHIKA) to find out more info on Shooter. All of this just makes Mort more and more paranoid.



This film won the Oscar for best foreign language film last year. This is actually a sequel to director Denys Arcand's 1986 film THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE, which I have not seen. However, one doesn't have to have seen the first film to enjoy the second. This film only catches up with the characters when they are older.

Remy (Remy Girard, LES BOYS) is dying. The former playboy was working as a university professor before he got sick. His ex-wife Louise (Dorothee Berryman, THE RED VIOLIN) calls their son Sebastien (Stephane Rousseau, LES DANGEREUX) to come to be with his father. He leaves his high-paying oil trading job in London to come to Quebec with his fiancée Gaelle (Marina Hands, FIDELITY). He's angry with his father for being who he is – a womanizer and a liberal. Sebastien has become a good capitalist, which is probably the exact opposite of his father. But isn't that how it always is. Louise encourages Sebastien to round up Remy's old friends so they can be with him in his last days.



Stephen Herek has a sketchy resume with films like DON'T TELL MOM THE BABYSITTERS DEAD and CRITTERS along with MR. HOLLAND'S OPUS. But if he is remembered for anything it will probably be BILL & TED. But really this isn't a director's film. It launched the career of Keanu Reeves as Ted Theodore Logan. Along with Bill S. Preston Esp. (Alex Winter, THE LOST BOYS), the two characters have joined the lexicon on pop culture stars. When was the last time you saw BILL & TED and when was the last time you referenced it? Most often it's the later no matter how long it has been since the former.

The story goes as follows: Bill and Ted have formed the band Wyld Stallyns. However, they're about to fail history, which will lead to Ted being sent away to military school in Alaska. This "tragedy" needs to be prevented because Wyld Stallyns' music will one day bring peace to Earth with its message of being excellent to each other and partying on. So Rufus (George Carlin, DOGMA) is sent back in time to give the boys a time machine so they can pass their history report. Bill and Ted decide to collect various historical figures and have them check out their modern hometown of San Dimas, California. Craziness and mishaps ensue as they do this.



Terry Gilliam is a director fascinated with fantasy and the bizarre. BARON MUNCHAUSEN is an ode to that love. The film throws logic out the window with a joyous glee, creating an epic fairy tale about an old adventurer reclaiming the excitement of life.

Sally Salt (Sarah Polly, THE SWEET HEREAFTER) is a young girl, whose father Henry (Bill Paterson, HILARY AND JACKIE) runs a theatre company. The company is performing a play on the fantastic life of Baron Munchausen when an elderly man shows up claiming to be the real Munchausen (John Neville, SPIDER). He begins to tell his "real" story, which mixes reality with fantasy backwards and forewords. Munchausen ends up on an adventure with Sally that leads to the moon, the fiery pits of a volcano, the other side of the world and the stomach of a giant fish. Along the way they run into Munchausen's old servants Berthold (Eric Idle, LIFE OF BRIAN), Adolphus (Charles McKeown, BRAZIL), Albrecht (Winston Dennis, TIME BANDITS) and Gustavas (Jack Purvis, MONA LISA). The servants all had superhuman gifts, but now they are too old to use them. Yet Munchausen still tries to enlist them in a crusade against the Sultan (Peter Jeffrey, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS), who is waging war against the city and threatening the lives of Sally's father and the other actors.


FAHRENHEIT 9/11 (2004) (***1/2)

When I reviewed PASSION OF THE CHRIST, I said God bless Mel Gibson for making a movie that spurred people to talk about religion. So in turn I say God bless Michael Moore for making FAHRENHEIT 9/11, spurring people to talk about the other topic you don't bring up in polite conversation – politics.

Moore is a liberal and makes no bones about it. The controversy surrounding this film and Moore is pretty much unwarranted due to the fact that there is nothing in the film that hasn't been covered in the mainstream media before. Moore just highlights the things that in his opinion are damning evidence that president George W. Bush is beholden to Saudi money, leading the U.S. in the wrong direction and otherwise a complete moron. The movie is quite convincing. Moore makes his argument clear and backs up what he says. This isn't a "fair and balanced" documentary; it's a 2-hour op-ed piece. It will make you laugh, cry and angry (what makes you angry may depend on what your political leanings are). I urge everyone to see this film with an open mind, especially if you are even thinking for a slight moment to vote for GW. I would love to see the other side counter the points that are brought up in the film. Moore has an army of lawyers ready for any charge. If this film doesn't make you want to run GW out of the White House then nothing will.


SAVED! (2004) (****)

When I first saw the trailer for this film, I was quite impressed and very intrigued. Then the film came out and the reviews were pretty much split 50/50 – half saying it was a brilliant satire of intolerant Evangelical Fundamentalists and the other half saying it was a mean-spirited attack on all of Christianity. Jerry Falwell went as far as to say that the film was "the most hateful thing to come out of Hollywood ever." Falwell is also the one who refers to women at a certain all women's college in his hometown of Lynchberg, VA as "the whores on the hill." He also said that feminists and homosexuals were the cause of 9/11. So he's pretty knowledgeable about hateful things. But I digress. I think people who call this film hateful are either too afraid at not looking PC or don't like the film airing their dirty laundry.


SPIDER-MAN 2 (2004) (****)

I will say from the start – this is the best comic book movie ever made. It has the perfect balance between action, character and smarts. I was an avid reader of SPIDER-MAN comics in my youth and this film captures everything that made those stories great.

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire, THE ICE STORM) is now working in New York City as a pizza delivery boy to try and make ends meet. He's always late for everything – school, work, appointments with friends – because he's off saving the day. Peter even discovers that the bank has put a foreclosure notice on the house of his beloved Aunt May (Rosemary Harris, SUNSHINE).

What's so wonderful about this film is that the script fleshes out the other characters in Peter's life. Along with the supporting cast, Spider-Man becomes more real – he's a hero like every other hero whether a cop or a fireman or the simple person who risks their life to do the right thing. Spider-Man just has a few more tricks in his bag. The idea that "with great power comes great responsibility" is sold perfectly in this film.



This is the first of the POTTER films where I read the book before I saw the film. Despite the book being better, the film is still a wonderful treat, keeping up the quality of the series. New director Alfonso Cuaron (Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN) replaces Chris Columbus at the helm, moving the franchise in a more mature direction.

The awe-shucks wonder of the magical world is over for teenage Harry (Daniel Radcliffe, TAILOR OF PANAMA). He's become bitter about the murder of his parents and lashes out against his muggle (non-magic) family for insulting his parents' name. This time around Voldemort has taken a rest from trying to kill Harry, but it seems that escaped convict Sirius Black (Gary Oldman, THE PROFESSIONAL) is taking up the reigns. Where Ron (Rupert Grint) played a bigger role than Hermione (Emma Watson) in the second film, it's visa versa in the third. Despite a continuous war between Ron and Hermione over her cat attacking his rat, the film does develop the two teens' ever growing attraction for each other.


SPARTAN (2004) (***1/2)

There are certain directors who could film a person reading a book and you'd be able to find something truly wonderful within it. David Mamet is one of those directors for me. He is hands down the modern master of con-game thrillers.

Scott (Val Kilmer, TOMBSTONE) is a tough-guy CIA agent who we meet as he's training new recruits Curtis (Derek Luke, PIECES OF APRIL) and Jackie Black (Tia Texada, NURSE BETTY). Scott gets called onto a top level kidnapping case. It's the president's daughter, Laura Newton (Kristen Bell, POOTIE TANG). How could the Secret Service let this happen? That's about as much information as I will reveal. The trailer does great disservice to the film's surprises. So I'd recommend not watching it before seeing the film.


THE FOG OF WAR (2003) (***1/2)

From master documentary maker Errol Morris comes this intriguing look at the life of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. Now in his 80s, McNamara is still vibrant and quite reflective about his role in WWII and Vietnam. How about this for candor, McNamara admits that if the U.S. would have lost WWII he and others would have probably been brought up on war crime charges for the fire bombing and nuclear attack on Japan. This gives you an idea of the overall sentiment of the film, which gives the first hand account of the mechanics of war, which are often paradoxical and seemingly insane.

It's an interesting irony that while McNamara worked for the Ford Motor Company he was instrumental in making cars safer even introducing seat belts, but participated in the death of hundreds of thousands of people in two wars. It's quite fascinating to hear what McNamara says and doesn't say throughout the film. Through the spry 85-year-old, we get a firsthand history lesson of the key military and political events of the past 60 years from WWII to Vietnam. The man who would play such a huge roll in later wars recalls memories from when he was two, watching a WWI victory parade. McNamara scarily relates just how close we were to nuclear war with Russia during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He also candidly talks about his mistakes during Vietnam and the day he realized the war was lost.


SCREAM 2 (1997) (**1/2)

Like the original SCREAM film, the characters know the rules of horror flicks -- even the rules of horror sequels. Higher body count and more gore. This "rule" typically ruins other horror sequels and succeeds in doing the same with SCREAM 2.

The film opens with the premiere of "Stab," which was based on a book about the events of the first film written by news reporter Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox, TV's FRIENDS). The lead Sidney (Neve Campbell, THE COMPANY), nerdy Randy (Jamie Kennedy, MALIBU'S MOST WANTED) and now crippled police officer Dewey (David Arquette, THE GREY ZONE) all return. Added to the cast is Laurie Metcalf (TV's ROSEANNE) as a local reporter, Jerry O'Connell (JERRY MAGUIRE) as Sidney's new boyfriend Derek, Timothy Olyphant (ROCK STAR) as Derek's best friend, Sarah Michelle Gellar (TV's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) as a sorority chick, Liev Schreiber (A WALK ON THE MOON) as the man Sidney originally fingered as her mother's killer and Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps as the token black couple.


DONNIE BRASCO (1997) (****)

This is an intense emotional ride through the mob underworld from the perspective of a FBI spy. Based on the true-life story of FBI agent Joseph D. Pistone, who is still in the witness protection program, the film feels informed by the reality what a cop really goes through. But down deep the film isn't about cops and criminals, but about loyalty. If you're an undercover cop, who do you stay loyal to — the job that puts you in danger every moment and takes you away from your family, or the criminal who has become your friend?

Johnny Depp masterfully plays the title character, the FBI agent who infiltrates a mob organization through a low-level thug named Lefty (Al Pacino, HEAT). Pacino has played a lot of gangster-like characters, but this is his best since THE GODFATHER (I must admit I have not seen SCARFACE, yet). I love how the characters are developed and how Brasco takes on the personality of the gangsters. Lefty is the perfect in for Brasco, because he's the kind of guy who wants people to believe he's bigger than he is, so he says things that he shouldn't.


THE STATION AGENT (2003) (****)

This is one of the best films of 2003 easily. Top three. Most films rarely have one complexly drawn character and this film has three. It's a story of strangers. One shelters himself and one opens up to anyone and the third is stuck in between. There are many reasons why they are estranged from other people. It is the mystery of the story for us to discover those reasons.

Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage, ELF) is a little person, who works in a model train store. Through a tragedy, he inherits an old train depot in New Jersey. Across from his new home is a hot dog stand where the extremely extroverted and persistent Joe Oramas (Bobby Cannavale, THE GURU) works. As we quickly see being a little person brings a lot of unwanted attention and Fin has learned to keep his distance from people. He then runs into (or more like the other way around) artist Olivia Harris (Patricia Clarkson, ALL THE REAL GIRLS). Before too long the three strike up a friendship, but past wounds put their relationship in jeopardy.


IN AMERICA (2003) (****)

The amazing thing about this film isn't that its concept is anything groundbreakingly original, but that it succeeds in telling a familiar tale with such originality and genuine heart.

After losing their son Frankie in an accident, Johnny (Paddy Considine, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE) moves his family – wife Sarah (Samantha Morton, MINORITY REPORT) and daughters Christy (Sarah Bolger, TV's A SECRET AFFAIR) and Ariel (Emma Bolger, INTERMISSION) – to New York City to try his hand at an acting career. The family struggles living in an apartment with junkies and overcoming the great sorrow of losing Frankie.

The way the story uses the mundane problems of a poor family -- like living in an overly hot apartment – to such poetic extent is amazing and powerful. The family befriends their downstairs neighbor Mateo (Djimon Hounsou, AMISTAD), who is an angry, struggling artist suffering from AIDS. This relationship brings up insecurities between Johnny and Sarah as well as larger life and death issues.


IRIS (2001) (****)

This was a film from 2001 that escaped my viewing for too long. I came and went in the theaters and the only reviewer that I read at the time, Mr. Ebert, only gave it two stars. But then, three of its four leads were nominated for Oscars and Jim Broadbent (BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY) won best supporting actor. I must admit that before this movie I didn't know who Iris Murdoch was. The movie wasn't a highlight reel of her life's accomplishments, but captured her ideas and nature and wrapped it into a larger poem on the cruelty of Alzheimer's disease.

The film flashes back from the 1950s to the 1990s looking at Iris at the beginning of her career (Kate Winslet, HEAVENLY CREATURES) and then at the end of her life played by Dame Judi Dench (MRS. BROWN). However, you could argue that the film's central character is Iris' husband John Bayley played by Hugh Bonneville (MANSFIELD PARK) as a young man and Broadbent older.


CITY OF GOD (2003) (****)

I have wanted to see this film for over a year and a half now. Ebert ranked it the second best film of 2002. It was released in U.S. theaters in January of 2003. Despite this fact (which usual hurts a film because Academy members forget) it was still nominated for four Oscars in 2003 -- Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Editing and Best Adapted Screenplay. It was a smash hit in its native Brazil and ranks it as its readers' 31st most popular film of all time. Have I made you want to see it yet?

Here's the story: Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues, GOLDEN GATE (PALACE II)) lives in the ghetto of Rio called the City of God – where corrupt cops fruitlessly try to control the street gangs. Rocket is the narrator of the film, which chronicles two decades of life in the slums. Rocket starts out by telling the story of his brother's gang and how Lil' Dice (Douglas Silva) grows up to become Lil' Ze (Leandro Firmino), the most ruthless gangster in town. Lil' Ze does this by murdering whomever stands in his way and accomplishes it by the age of 18. The only person who keeps Lil' Ze under control is his best friend Benny (Phellipe Haagensen), who serves as a peacemaker, especially between Ze and rival gang leader Carrot (Matheus Nachtergaele).


ELEPHANT (2003) (***1/2)

This film is a meandering ode on school shootings. Unlike the TV's movie BANG, BANG, YOU'RE DEAD, this film doesn't try to make a grander message about why school shootings happen. It just shows this particular event unfolding. The film watches as the characters go through their day — one that many won't survive.

John (John Robinson) is the son of an alcoholic and has had many visits to the principal's office. Elias (Elias McConnell) is a photography student. Nathan (Nathan Tyson) is the big man on campus and a lifeguard. His girlfriend is Carrie (Carrie Finklea), who may or may not be pregnant. Jordan (Jordan Taylor), Nicole (Nicole George) and Brittany (Brittany Mountain) are a gaggle of popular girls who have an unusual group ritual they do. Michelle (Kristen Hicks) is a nerdy girl, who doesn't like to wear shorts in gym class. Benny (Bennie Dixon) is an African-American athlete who helps John's girlfriend Acadia (Alicia Miles) escape from the school. Alex (Alex Frost) and Eric (Eric Deulen) are the killers. While watching them prepare for their murderous actions, we get glimpses of some of their motivations for doing what they do, but nothing is definitive.


PETER PAN (2003) (***1/2)

Visually stunning and inventive, this film is a wonder family film that brings to life a classic fairy tale. The story works as a simple adventure for kids, but there are deeper, heavier issues dealt with which adults will find fascinating, maybe even a bit chilling. How does it appear when Capt. Hook gets in the way of the fledgling love of innocent Wendy and Peter?

Based on the play by J.M. Barrie, Wendy Darling (Rachel Hurd-Wood, film debut) is coming upon a time in adolescence when her father (Jason Isaacs, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS), her mother (Olivia Williams, RUSHMORE) and her aunt Millicent (Lynn Redgrave, GODS & MONSTERS) feel she should put aside her daydreaming and storytelling and think about becoming an adult. However, Wendy would rather continue to tell pirate tales to her brothers John (Harry Newell, film debut) and Michael (Freddie Popplewell, film debut).