War of the Worlds……frighteningly entertaining

This afternoon we saw the much hyped, and well deserved I might add, Steven Spielberg/Tom Cruise soon to be mega blockbuster.

Spielberg who as a young filmmaker hung in the shadows of fellow prodigy George Lucas, proves once again that his one time inferiority to Lucas is completely a distant memory from a galaxy long long ago. Oh, no doubting the visionary technical mind of Lucas with his eye candy effects, but Spielberg once again flexes his diversified storytelling muscle to bring this summer’s movie going crowd a seat gripping thrill ride! You see, it’s not just about the special effects which are mind numbingly real and will cause your mouth to gape open with a “what the heck is that” expression. It’s also about his complete cinematic genius that brings together all of the superb ingredients of a great film, from the casting of Tom Cruise to the not quite cameo appearance of a brilliant Tim Robbins performance.
Without giving too much away, I like the pacing of the film which at times reminded me of his earlier Jurassic Park thrillers. (I didn’t expect to be creeped out as much as I was.) Cruise’s “daughter” played by Dakota Fanning stole the show much of the two hours and in the process resurrected the “scream” that highlighted the great horror films of the past. I would not classify this as a horror film, of course, but there were some horrifying images, especially in the manner in which earthlings are..never mind, won’t give too much more away. Unlike Madagascar, this is definitely worth a theatre trip, and would be worth a 2nd one for me. I wouldn’t call the Sci-fi images of this film “shocking” as Independence Day once achieved because the effects of today, and particularly from Spielberg’s Dreamworks lab, are of no great surprise, but this flick does have the perfect balance of technical wizardry, emotional highs and lows, and of course a tantalizing sub plot. As far as the ending? Go see the movie this weekend, and then we can talk more about it later. I give War of the Worlds, 4 1/2 notes out of 5.

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Madagascar……..save your money

I just saw Madagascar with the family. I think that the formula for computer animated flicks has run its course. What I mean to say is that this is a poor imitation of other Pixar/Dreamworks style movies of the past few years. While the animation is done very well, and of course what we expect now, the jokes or lack thereof left me scratching my head as to why I shelled out for 3 matinee tickets. I think the casting of Chris Rock, Ben Stiller, and David Schwimmer may have looked good on paper, but we need to cast blame toward the director for not milking the slightest bit of chemistry from the trio. The movie patron’s intelligence has been highly assaulted if the casting of Rock was to conjure up recent memories of Eddie Murphy’s “Donkey”. Although my 12 old year disagrees, as I told him tonight, this movie doesn’t even rank among the top 10 computer animated flicks that have been released since Toy Story 1, and I say that without fully knowing that 10 have even been released since Pixar’s groundbreaking accomplishment of 1995. Since this is my first movie review and I am a musician, I give this movie 1 1/2 music notes out of 5.