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Frame by Frame: A Family-Friendly Movie Blog

    Frame by Frame: A Family-Friendly Movie Blog

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    Movie Review: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

    Posted: 15 Feb 2012 01:33 PM PST

    Journey 2: The Mysterious Island


    PG for some adventure action and brief mild language.
    Genre: Action, adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, sequel.
    Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes

    Young Sean Anderson receives a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist. It’s a place of strange life forms, mountains of gold, deadly volcanoes and more than one astonishing secret. Unable to stop him from going, Sean’s new stepfather, Hank, joins the quest to discover what is really going on. Together with a helicopter pilot and his beautiful, strong-willed daughter, they set out to find the island, rescue its lone inhabitant and then escape before seismic shock-waves force the island under the sea and bury its treasures forever.

    A Sequel We Knew Would Come Sooner Or Later

    It’s been a long time coming, but we knew this sequel would come one day as the first movie – Journey to The Center of The Earth from 2008 – ended with an obvious set up for Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Josh Hutcherson is back reprising his role as young Sean Anderson in search of adventure. After heading to the Center of the Earth with his father played by Brendan Fraser in 2008, we now find Sean on a new adventure. This time it’s with his new stepfather Hank played by Dwayne Johnson.

    This is one of those movies that falls into the category of – “At the time it seemed like a good idea”. 

    Journey to the Center of the Earth was a fun 3D adventure. While the plot and story line was admittedly tried and true with few surprises along the way, the special effects made the movie pop. The special effects also made the somewhat poor acting skills of Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson a little more bearable.

    It’s sad to say that those involved with this sequel – Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - attempted to use the same cookie cutter pattern for this movie. This sequel is really nothing more than a re-make of Journey to the Center of the Earth done above ground instead of underground. The plot lines are very similar when it comes to big being small and small being big. The chase scenes are the same and the attacking animals are pretty much the same too. It’s a good thing a number of years passed between the first movie and this one or else people would be very disappointed with the similarities between the two.

    I screened the movie on a regular screen and I have a feeling it is probably better in 3D. At least the special effects of the 3D would once again help a somewhat predictable plot line pop off the screen. When it comes to acting talent, Josh Hutcherson is once again lack-luster. He may have had potential in the early days of his acting career, but he does not seem to be living up to any expectations. Luis Guzman brings some comic relief to an otherwise rather laughter-less flick but Vanessa Hudgens seems to more window dressing than anything else. Dwayne Johnson, who plays stepfather Hank really needs to figure out what kind of an actor he wants to be. Then last – but certainly not least – Michael Caine who plays Alexander Anderson is really the only glimmer of hope in this movie. While it is not one of his more stellar performances, at least Caine brings a screen presence to help keep this otherwise slow moving movie along.

    The bottom line is this – kids will enjoy the movie – but if you’re an older viewer looking for more substance, you will not find it in The Mysterious Island. It clocks in at just a little over an hour and a half, but I have to admit, it was a long 90 minutes.

    After a review like this you may wonder why I’m giving it 3 Lloyds. I’m giving it 3 Lloyds for two reasons. First off, with a PG rating it is age appropriate for the rating. All too often Hollywood tends to miss the rating by one. But such is not the case with Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. This movie is age appropriate.

    Secondly, I’m giving it 3 Lloyds because of the boy sitting in front of me watching the movie with his mother.

    Even in the midst of the rude teens who were more interested in playing a game on their phone than watching the movie, this young boy sat on the edge of his seat with excitement through the whole movie. At the end of the flick he gave his Mom a hug and said “Thanks for bringing me to the movie Mom. I loved the movie and enjoyed spending time with you”. In my opinion, that’s a huge “mission accomplished” for the entertainment industry.

    Enjoy the show!
    Dr. Rus

    Movie Review: Red Tails

    Posted: 15 Feb 2012 01:30 PM PST

    Red Tails


    PG-13 for some sequences of war violence.
    Genre: Action, adventure, war
    Running Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

    As the war in Europe continues to take its toll on Allied forces in 1944, the Pentagon brass has no recourse but to consider unorthodox options – including the untried and untested African-American pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, they’re given the ultimate chance to show their courage.

    Against all odds, with something to prove and everything to lose, the young airmen take to the skies to fight for their country – and the fate of the free world.

    The Under-Current Story of Wartime

    There’s always a sub-plot to wartime and many times the stories are earth shattering. At the same time, these same under-current stories often highlight great heroism of the men involved in fighting for the freedom we know and love today. That’s exactly what we find in Red Tails. This based on true story movie highlights the story of the young men who were part of what’s become known as the experimental Tuskegee training program involving African-American pilots.

    In 1944 segregation was part of the fabric of the culture.

    Red Tails starts with a 1925 military report stating – “Negros are unfit for military service because they lack the intelligence, courage and reaction time” for wartime situations. Of course the movie – just like those real life men in 1944 – sets out to disprove the accuracy of the report. Not only did they disprove the 1925 report, but the Tuskegee Airmen even received a visit from Eleanor Roosevelt which made the national press at the time. The 332nd Fighter group – which were known as the Red Tails - also received the Presidential Unit Citation for its longest bomber escort mission to Berlin, Germany on March 24, 1945. During that mission the Tuskegee Airmen destroyed three German ME-262 jet fighters and damaged five more.

    As a result of such a great story line one would think Red Tails would be a stellar movie breaking all kinds of box office records. But, such is not the case. I went into the movie with high expectations of a wonderful two hour historical ride brought to life on the big screen. I really wanted to not only like this movie – I wanted to love this movie. I went in planning to quickly add Red Tails to my DVD library when it comes out.

    I’m saddened to report this movie does not live up
    to all the advertising hype.

    Lucas’ Bag Of Tricks Getting Old

    The bottom line is this – Red Tails is no Memphis Bell and it is no where close to a Fly Boys. I have both those movies in my DVD collection and absolutely love them. But Red Tails simply falls flat when it comes to on-screen performance.

    Terrance Howard who plays Colonel A.J. Bullard seems more fascinated with finding different ways to play with his pipe prop than actually putting in a strong performance. When it comes to Cuba Gooding Junior, while he may headline on the movie posters, he’s really nothing more than a supporting actor brought in to try to prop up this otherwise unknown cast of Hollywood actors. It appears like both Howard and Gooding Junior are pretty much running on auto-pilot themselves. They seem disinterested in the movie and pretty much called in their performance just to get a paycheck. I have a feeling those involved with Red Tails were trying to grab name recognition in the hopes of pulling this sub-standard movie into the range of mediocre.

    When it comes to special effects, George Lucas needs to find some new tricks.

    Again I went into Red Tails with high expectations. Lucas is known for his amazing flying special effects so a movie about fighter pilots during World War Two had “spectacular” written all over it. But, in the midst of a dragging story line and at times unconnected, disjointed and confusing character development, Lucas’ special effects flair simply fizzle out. The flying special effects in Red Tails look like nothing more than rehashed and re-computerized Star Wars effects. For the most part it looks like Lucas and his people merely went into their old computer graphic files, edited out the Star Wars spaceship shots and then put in World War Two planes. The cockpit shots are terrible where this bad editing really stands out. The in cockpit shots for Red Tails are exact replicas of in cockpit shots for Star Wars. Only the plane has changed!

    If you’re looking for edge of your seat excitement with lots of cool George Lucas special effects, you will not find it here. If you’re looking for great acting performances, you will not find it here. If you’re looking for a “pretty close to factual” true story about the World War Two Red Tails fighter pilots, you will find that. But, that’s about all you will find in this rather disappointment movie. Those involved could have done so much more. But instead it seems like that treated it as nothing more than a “throw away” movie.

    Wait for the DVD!
    Dr. Rus