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Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Boxtrolls movie gets mixed reviews from parents

I wish I had more time to read!  I love curling up with a good book and disappearing into a new world.  Well, at least I can do it for a couple of hours at a time when I watch movies.  I figure that helps me save time, right?  I haven't read the book that this movie was based on, but here's a "Reader's Digest" condensed version from my movie review web site:

Movie Title:  The BoxTrolls

Grade:  B

In a Nutshell:  From the quirky and creepy creators of Coraline and Paranorman , this family flick has a steampunk feel to it and features the voice talents of Ben Kingsley, Toni Collette, Elle Fanning, and Jared Harris. 

Based on the book Here Be Monsters! (The Ratbridge Chronicles) by Alan Snow, this dark and dirty animation feels more like an unnerving mixture between Charles Dickens and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street for kids…if that’s your cup of murky tea.  While the animation is impressive, it’s not entirely appropriate for young children.

Uplifting theme: 
  • “Cheese, hats, boxes…they don’t make you.  You make yourself.” – Eggs
  • Stand up and fight for yourself and what’s right.

Things I liked:
  • Laika does an amazing job with depth-of-field.  There is so much to see in each screen shot.
  • The 3D effect is pretty impressive, especially the fog and smoke.
  • Artistically speaking, the animation was outstanding.  Stylistically, it wasn’t my favorite.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There were more disgusted “ewwww’s” than charmed “ahhhh’s” from the audience.  Lots of ick moments.
  • Some of the Cockney accents were hard to understand, especially in the beginning of the movie.
  • The BoxTrolls sound like Gollum in Lord of the Rings.
  • I don't see merchandising for this movie going very far.  Who wants to play with a creepy, dirty troll in a box?

Funny lines:
  • “Do you think the BoxTrolls understand the duality of good and evil?”  - Mr. Trout
  • “If you’re going to eat me, just get on with it.  I’m sure I’m delicious.” – Winnie
  • “Be prepared to say bye-bye to your brie, cheerio to your cheddar.”  - Archibald Snatcher
  • “We’re the exterminators of justice.  We exterminate justice.”  - Mr. Pickles
  • “Curds Way? How do I get there?”  - Eggs
“Milk turns into it.”  -  Winnie   (Get it?  Curds and whey…)
  • “The Briehemouth!”  - Lord Portley-Rind
  • “A woman like that is like raw, bold, maybe a little stinky.”  - Lord Portley-Rind

Tips for parents:  This is a twisted version of Victorian England that includes some violence, but no profanity. You might need to explain to your kids how leeches were actually used as a medical device long ago and that some people are lactose intolerant.  The BoxTrolls gather discarded items, but they also steal.  The villain is an unhinged cross-dresser and truly evil. There is discussion in the movie about what a good father is and does.  I think young children will be both frightened and bored.

If you like this movie, then you'll definitely like these:

Sunday, September 21, 2014

James Dashner's book The Maze Runner tops box office sales

Movie Title:  Maze Runner
PG-13, 1 hour 54 minutes

Grade:  B+

In a Nutshell:   I’m so thrilled for my friend, James Dashner, who is the author of The Maze Runner Series (Maze Runner) that this film is based on!  I first met him when he and I were doing a book signing at the same store.  People were lined up to meet him, of course, while I sat and twiddled my thumbs.  Ha ha  I have a hard time picturing my books being made into movies since I write non-fiction!

He and I are both members of the same author group and he is considered our resident rock star.  I’m so happy that his book was made into a movie!  That’s so unbelievably awesome!  Here is a picture of the two of us at a recent writers’ conference:

The story is a bit of a dystopian Lord of the Flies , as teenage boys try to figure out how they ended up on the edge of a killer maze and who put them there.  I haven’t had time to read the book, so I’m not sure what we might be missing in this suspenseful flick, but James said that the “tone and spirit and vision” of what he wrote in the book is totally in the movie.

Uplifting theme: 
Learning how to work for the benefit of others, these teenage boys also demonstrate courage, sacrifice, and teamwork.

Things I liked:
  • As a mother of 4 sons, I thought it was funny and definitely true-to-life that the boys generally spent their evenings wrestling each other.  Ha ha
  • The scary noises reminded me of the creepy alien sounds in Tom Cruise's movie The War of the Worlds .
  • The movie starts fast and throws us into the action without dilly-dallying..  I always like that!
  • All of the young actors did a great job, although I wish there had been time for more character development.

Things I didn’t like:
  • There were some plot holes that bugged me.  I’m assuming the sequel will fill them?
  • The runners wore these leathered, strappy things, but I couldn’t see what purpose they served.  They weren’t quite backpacks, so what were they for?
  • They say “W.K.D. is good.”  Really?  No, I don’t want kids thinking wicked is good.
  • Despite being trapped in a camping set-up, the boys are able to concoct some form of alcohol for partying at night.

Interesting lines:
  • “You’re not like the others; you’re curious.”  - Alby
  • “It’s not a prison; it’s a test.”  - Thomas
  • “You’ll get your name in a day or two.  That’s one thing they let us keep.”  - Alby
  • “You don’t get it.  We’re already dead.” – Minho

Funny lines:
  • “I don’t know if he’s brave or stupid.  Whatever it is, we need more of it.”  - Minho
  • (SPOILER ALERT)   “Seriously?”  - Jeff, when he sees the “Exit” sign.
  • “I thought you had the chops to be a runner…until you face-planted.” – Newt

Fun Facts about James Dashner:
  • He and I both graduated from BYU.  He majored in accounting, which seems like such a boring profession for such a creative guy!  He said “My heart bleeds for accountants.  I don’t miss it even in the slightest, tiniest, little bit.”  Ha ha
  • James is a movie buff like me and confessed that movies like “Star Wars”, Alien , The Terminator and The Matrix influenced his writing.  It was the maze in the movie The Shining that got him thinking about writing his own novel that would feature one.
  • Now that his book has been turned into a movie, he’s interested in screenwriting.  Go James!

Tips for parents:   Mild profanity, deaths, scary noises, violence.  Small children may be frightened by the “grievers” (robotic monstors that chase and kill the “gladers”).