Fitz’s New Rule of Thirds for Movie Reviews

Hey there…

Though I’ve seen a few films at the theater recently, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to write reviews of them. But one of the strangely consistent things I’ve found is that most of them aren’t complete. If there’s a weak beginning, middle, or end, I find myself not really loving a film.

Let’s take the last four films I’ve seen:

I’ll start with the one I saw today – Faster starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton. After reading some of the great reviews, I was expecting to be blown away – and I was, for all but the last third. The beginning is amazing – setting the stage for Driver’s (Johnson) revenge road trip. After 10 years in prison, Driver is out to kill all of the people involved in the death of his brother after a heist. Even the middle is great as Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) gets involved and we start to learn more about the the heist. But somehow in the last third, Driver loses site of the prize and grows a heart. It took the wind out of the movie for me.

Let’s move to Tangled, the latest animated feature from Disney. From the trailers, I was actually looking forward to this one. In it, we see Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) who’s been locked in a tower for years by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) so Gothel can stay forever young courtesy of Rapunzel’s magical hair. When Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) hides out in the tower after a theft, it opens a big can of worms as the damsel in distress wants to see the world… With this one it’s the beginning that bored me to tears along with the fact that Murphy tries to sound like Ursula (Pat Carroll) from The Little Mermaid. Gothel as a character made me cringe whenever she was on screen. Once she was mostly out of the picture, I enjoyed the interplay between Rapunzel and Flynn – even the music!

Then there was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, which is the beginning of the end for the Harry Potter series. By far, this is one of the most action-packed of the series to date. The running and magical battles seemed to be non-stop… until we got to the last third of the film. I nearly fell asleep when Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) were hunting for the Horcruxes, teleporting from place to place and waiting for their magical batteries to recharge in-between. Though I understand that they’re teenagers and meant to wallow in self-pity or ego from time to time, I felt like I was watching any episode of Days of Our Lives or 90120… I suspect that the dip towards the end was due to the fact that they had to split the movie into two parts, but still – I was hoping for a little more excitement heading to the end of part 1 and didn’t get it.

Of all of these films, RED is the most complete. Though the beginning is a bit slow, it was a slow burn that led to a satisfactory middle and a fantastic end. I’ve heard from people who said they didn’t like it, but to me it was a perfect action movie with great characters and dialog that never went over the top.

So here’s my new rule… On a scale of one to four stars, I have to factor in the rule of thirds. If one third sucks, that’s a star right off the top. If the whole movie is horrible, that’s three stars off the top with one left for other things like the music, special effects, acting, and so on. But it’s not worth misleading anybody if one third or more of a given movie isn’t worth seeing.

Is this over the top? I don’t think so. Movies should be graded as a whole entity.

What do you think? Leave me some comments whether you agree or disagree…

–Fitz

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DVD Review: Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes

Hi!

As a fan of the classic Tom and Jerry cartoons from MGM in the 1940s and ’50s, I’ve often been disappointed in recent attempts to revitalize the series. Somehow shows like Tom and Jerry Kids in the early 1990s and Tom and Jerry Tales just a few years ago fail to capture the innocence and fun of the initial shorts from William Hanna & Joseph Barbera.

However, I am surprised and pleased to say that the recent release of the new Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes feature on DVD manages to capture more of the classic feel of the early antics of this cat and mouse pair while putting them in an entirely new storyline that also brings in many of their familiar friends along the way…

If you’ve been living in a cave for the last 70 years, Tom and Jerry first appeared in the short “The Midnight Snack” by Hanna and Barbera in 1941 after another of their shorts – “Puss Gets the Boot,” released in 1940 – became a big hit with theater owners. From 1941 until until the end of their careers in 1958, Hanna and Barbera created more than 100 more Tom and Jerry cartoons for MGM. Since then, Tom and Jerry have been a mainstay on television enjoyed by several generations of viewers.

The basic premise behind most of the Tom and Jerry cartoons is that Tom, a lazy housecat with a taste for mice and a knack for getting into trouble, is constantly trying to catch Jerry, a little brown mouse with a mischievous streak and a taste for people food. Scattered throughout the many shorts, Hanna and Barbera created other unforgettable characters as well… Spike, a big not-so-bright bulldog, and his son Tyke… Butch, a rival tomcat who also wants to eat Jerry… Toodles, the beautiful and unattainable girl cat Tom falls in love with again and again… Tuffy, the always hungry little mouse that sometimes appears as Jerry’s nephew who charges in where little mice should fear to tread… Droopy, the small but wily Basset Hound who speaks slowly and can, when angry, defeat the largest foes with ease… The list goes on and on.

In Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes, Jerry lives in Sherlock Holmes’ flat at 221B Baker Street in London during the late 1880s. Dr. Watson comes to visit to tell Holmes about another in a series of jewel robberies when Tom appears with a note asking for help from Red, a beautiful cabaret singer. Though Tom and Jerry try to do harm to each other throughout the feature, in the end they, Holmes, and Watson manage to help solve the mystery of the missing jewels and whomever is stalking Miss Red.

Throughout the 50 minute feature, we catch glimpses of some of Tom and Jerry’s classic friends. Droopy makes an appearance as a bumbling bobby with Scotland Yard. He and Spike try to catch Miss Red, as they believe her to be behind the jewel thieves. Tuffy works as a priest at the church and provides sanctuary when the group needs a place to hide. You even see Barney Bear as he installs mirrors all around London and the Big Bad Wolf howling at Red during her cabaret show.

Though this feature is short, I have to admit that I really enjoyed the cartoon with my daughters. We laughed out loud numerous times at the slapstick antics of the cat and mouse. Unlike the recent Tom and Jerry Tales series, there’s a purpose to the characters in the story that provides a structure for the craziness that goes on along the way.

In addition to the feature itself, there’s a “How to Draw Tom and Jerry” feature that is done by Spike Brandt from Warner Brothers Animation. Using a few simple steps, Brandt walks viewers through drawing Tom and Jerry’s distinct portraits on paper. My two girls with art skills are really looking forward to trying out the techniques described. We’ll have to see how it turns out.

If you’re looking for a new way to share the fun of Tom & Jerry with your kids, I’d definitely recommend giving Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes a look. We had a lot of fun with the cartoon and look forward to see what’s next for the cat and mouse!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other great DVDs from Barnes & Noble below…

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What is RED? And what is Hellen Mirren doing with automatic weapons?

Bruce Willis at a Live Free or Die Hard (Die H...
Image via Wikipedia

Hey there!

This has to be the most hilarious idea I’ve heard for a while. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on the big screen. RED is coming out in October 2010 and features some amazing folks – Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Karl Urban, Mary-Louise Parker, Brian Cox, Julian McMahon and Richard Dreyfuss. What a cast!!

Here’s the synopsis:

Based on the cult D.C. Comics graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer, RED is an explosive action-comedy starring Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren.

Frank (Bruce Willis), Joe (Morgan Freeman), Marvin (John Malkovich) and Victoria (Helen Mirren) used to be the CIA’s top agents – but the secrets they know just made them the Agency’s top targets. Now framed for assassination, they must use all of their collective cunning, experience and teamwork to stay one step ahead of their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest conspiracies and cover-ups in government history.

Here’s the trailer:

This looks hilarious. And the video of Dame Helen Mirren with the machine gun is awesome! I’ll have to add her to the same list of Dames I don’t want to mess with – it’s a short list. Dame Judi Dench is the only other person on it!!

RED hits theaters on October 15, 2010 from Summit Entertainment and DC Comics and I know it’s on my list to go see.

–Fitz

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