Tag Archives: nature films

2012 movie musings

Sometimes childhood memories shared with our own children come back to haunt us. I once told daughter Lizabeth about racing home after school to watch the vampire soap series “Dark Shadows.” Now that Johnny Depp is starring in a “Dark Shadows” film (May) that’ll fast forward Barnabas and clan to the 1970s, I’ll never hear the end of it.

Only rumors that Depp raced home to do the same thing will temper those wounds. Folks with a taste for vampire lore can also look forward to “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2” (Nov) and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (June).  I haven’t read the “Twilight” series, so I’m a bit conflicted about what color to expect for the nursery.

Lizabeth likes the Lincoln meets vampire vibe, but I’m holding out for Spielberg’s “Lincoln” (Dec) starring Daniel Day Lewis. Lincoln’s life was bloody enough. I’d like to leave it at that. I’ll also be watching for “Hotel Transylvania” (Sept) with a cast that includes two comedic Adams and one crooning Miley.

Musical theater morphs into movies at least twice this year with “Rock of Ages” (June) starring Tom Cruise (watch for tidy widy jokes) and “Les Miserables” (Dec) featuring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and lots of other big names. I’d give you the rest of the list but it’d only leave you wishing I’d stopped after Jackman.

We’ll also enjoy a pair of films starring Harry Potter alums this season — “The Woman in Black” (Feb) with Daniel Radcliffe (whose performance Lizabeth loved in “How to Succeed…” on Broadway) and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (Fall) with Emma Watson. I was perfectly happy with the other films featuring a wallflower in black named “Snape.”

Two actresses who first performed right here in the Valley will be seen on the big screen this year. First, Emma Stone in “Movie 43” (April) and “The Amazing Spiderman” (July) — which will show her acting alongside greats like Sally Field and Richard Gere. Also Jordin Sparks in “Sparkle” (Aug), alongside Whitney Houston. Best I just let that one be for the time being.

In the classic lit department, there’s “The Great Gatsby” (Dec) starring Leonardo DiCaprio — assuming he survives the 3-D version of James Cameron’s “Titanic” (April). Also “Anna Karenina” and “Great Expectations” — both slotted for fall release. Start reading now if you want to revisit the books before these babies hit your local movie theater. Folks who favor new lit can look forward to “The Hunger Games” (March) and “Life of Pi” (Dec).

Girlpower gets its due with “Brave” (June) — Pixar’s 13th film and their first to feature a female heroine. Mean girls are headed our way with two variations on the Snow White tale. First, “Mirror Mirror” (March) starring Julia Roberts as the Queen and Lily Collins as Snow White. Then “Snow White and the Huntsmen” (June), starring Charlize Theron as the Queen and Kristen Stewart as Snow White.

For more twisted fairy tale fare, check out “Jack the Giant Killer” (June) — which Lizabeth only entertained seeing after learning it’s from the same fine fellow who brought us “X-Men: First Class.” Those of you waiting on “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” need to aim your crystal balls at the year 2013. In the interim, try “The Avengers” (May).

It’s a big year for sequels, including family fare like “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” (June), “Ice Age 4: Continental Drift” (July) and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” (Aug). Also “Men in Black” (May), “The Dark Knight Rises” (July) and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (Dec). Lizabeth and I could never make it past the first few pages of “The Hobbit,” so I’m not holding out much hope for this one.

She’s more excited about “The Secret Adventures of Arrietty” (Feb), a Disney film based on a novel called “The Borrowers” — while I’m looking forward to “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” (March), from the folks who made “Despicable Me.” Other family fare includes a whale of a tale called “Big Miracle” (Feb) and “Disneynature: Chimpanzee” (April).

Watch for “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” (May), a film about five couples expecting babies that was inspired by the famous prenatal parenting book. I’m only willing to revisit those memories because the cast includes Matthew Morrison of “Glee.” Don’t mistake “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” (March) for an animated film about your toddler’s playdates.

My potpourri pile’s got some other films I’m still investigating — so stay tuned for a second installment. And drop a line to let me know what films you’re most excited about seeing.

— Lynn

Note: Film release dates are subject to change. Visit the websites for your favorite films/studios to follow their developments.

Coming up: Broadway meets community theater


Make a wave

After a Friday afternoon of movie-going with my son Christopher, I came home and turned on the television to get an update on the dreadful oil spill off the southern coast of the United States.

While reporting the story on his weekday program “Hardball,” Chris Matthews of MSNBC added the following: “This is a teaching lesson for how man can destroy his own habitat.” I can’t argue with that, but I’m certain Christopher would want to add something to it.

As we drove back from Harkins Theatre at Tempe Marketplace, where we’d just seen the movie “Oceans” (rated G, released 4-22-10 by Disneynature), I ran some possible blog titles past him—including “Get your shopping cart out of my fridge.”

It was a reference to one of many striking scenes in the film—which features an animal trying to swim its way around a shopping cart parked smack dab in the middle of its neighborhood.

Christopher liked the idea, but noted that it implies the oceans are nothing more than a food source for humankind. Indeed, the ocean is part of our habitat. The earth is our one and only home. But maybe it’s also got value beyond merely what it can do for us.

The movie “Oceans” left me wondering what we should be doing for the sea. Not because it was preachy or political—it wasn’t. But because it raised my awareness of the ocean’s beauty and bounty in ways few other things have.

Plenty of creatures live there, and I suspect they are every bit as fond of (and worthy of) clean food and water as we are. I don’t expect everyone who reads this to agree with my philosophy here—only to see the movie and have the discussion with their own friends and family.

“Oceans” raises important issues that otherwise get far too little of our attention. As the opening for the movie notes, we seem much more fascinated with exploring the stars than with exploring the seas.

Yet the seas hold no less wonder, no fewer mysteries, and no less potential for helping us to understand our origins and frame our future. I admit to pondering on many occasions why we invest so many resources in outer space exploration when our own inner spaces have been so nihilistically neglected.

Folks who see this flick may walk away with totally different take home messages. I’m all for it. But have the dialogue. See what’s out there. Then imagine the possibilities.

Remember that the ocean covers 71% of the Earth’s surface and contains 97% of the planet’s water, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which also reports that 95% of the underwater world remains unexplored.

“Oceans” runs about 90 minutes and is breathtaking throughout. The narration is lovely—informative but not overbearing or distracting. The audience we sat with, which included preschoolers through grandmothers, was still and hushed throughout.

The movie moves between fierce ocean currents and gentle lapping waves, between suspenseful hunting excursions and sweet animal parent/child interactions. It’s ever tasteful and never terrifying.

“Oceans” is truly captivating—and a must see movie for every family.


Note:  To learn more about “Oceans,” visit the Disneynature website—which features educational materials for parents and teachers. To up your cool factor with the Radio Disney set, be sure you correctly identify the movie’s closing song as “Make a Wave” sung by Joe Jonas and Demi Lovato. Photo: Child’s drawing of Earth, courtesy of NASA

Coming up: A review of “The Secret Garden” (the play)–presented by Curtain Call, the educational division of Arizona Jewish Theatre Company. Performances today and Sunday, May 2, at the John Paul Theatre at Phoenix College. Info at www.azjewishtheatre.org. Tickets at 602-264-0402 or the door.