Popcorn Parents - Family Movie Reviews

Movie Monday: Kung Fu Panda

Kung Fu Panda is the story of a panda named Po (voice of Jack Black), whose father, Mr. Ping (voice of James Hong) runs a noodle shop and anticipates that his son will follow in his footsteps. Po, however, secretly yearns to join the “Furious Five,” which includes characters named Monkey (Jackie Chan), Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu) and Crane (David Cross), in kung fu combat.

The entire village climbs seemingly endless stairs to the ancient temple where the kung fu warriors train, to learn who will be chosen by Oogway (Randall Duk Kim), master of the ancient temple, to be the Dragon Warrior and gain the secret power of the Dragon Scroll.

Po barely makes it up the stairs only to have the gates of the temple closed before he can reach them; he eventually catapults himself into the center of the temple square and is, of course, chosen as the dragon warrior, much to the dismay of the Furious Five. Master Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), who trained the Furious Five, at first tries to drive away Po, but Oogway assures Shifu that Po is destined to be Dragon Warrior, then dies, leaving Shifu determined to train Po. 

Meanwhile, the evil Tai Lung (Ian McShane) escapes from the supposedly inescapable prison, the Furious Five sets out to defeat Tai Lung and instead are themselves defeated. Po discovers that there is no secret contained in the Dragon Scroll; the power is to believe in himself. Armed with this newfound knowledge, he confronts and, of course, defeats Tai Lung.

Some of the images produced for this movie are truly beautiful, and certain scenes have positive messages, such as Shifu’s decision to build on Po’s strengths and Po’s determination to never give up. The Furious Five comes to accept Po by the end of the story, and the main characters all have moments of self-realization. 

Sadly, the underlying themes of this story include constant references to Po being fat and suggest that his incompetence is a direct result of his size. The movie is filled with violent action scenes, both as slapstick attempts at humor and during the fight scenes. While most of the fighting is restricted to the Furious Five, Po, Shifu, and Tai Lung, during one scene Tai Lung lays waste to the entire contingent of guards posted at the prison. 

Tai Lung’s glowing yellow eyes are a little spooky for some kids, and many of the scenes are, if not scary, at least startling (especially at the volume of sound encountered in the typical movie theater!) The movie ends on a positive note, and contains very little offensive language (at most, you’ll hear the word  “stupid” and “idiot.”)>While not particularly good or funny, the movie is harmless.

By Suzanne Frazier

Movie Tuesday: Speed Racer (PG)

Speed Racer

Directed by The Wachowski Brothers (Andy, Larry)

Starring Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Susan Sarandon, John Goodman, Matthew Fox, Paulie Litt

Opens May 9, 2008

Screened May 11, 2008

Rated PG

 

 

Child’s play is littered with toys, but driven by imagination. Kids are picky about their playthings, to be sure, but they’re also experts at rewriting the “rules” of the game. Any parent who has watched their child play gleefully inside the cardboard box that accompanied their brand new $200 toy set has learned (or remembered) a fundamental axiom of play: You may want a toy because it can do something—light up, transform, pee—but you play with a toy because it can do anything.

Movie Tuesday: Iron Man (PG-13)

Coming in to the sure-to-be-blockbuster Iron Man, I had very little knowledge beforehand of the story. After doing a bit of research of the Marvel comics, I became quite familiar with the character of Iron Man but was curious to find out whether the movie would do the vintage comic character justice. I'd rather not ruin the story line for those persistent movie goers and comic fans, but the movie, directed Jon Favreau, focused highly upon the development of Iron Man and his journey for good. 

Movie Tuesday: Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay (R)

First, we're moving Movie Monday to Tuesday, thanks to the time needed to write and edit the reviews. We lose the alliteration, but gain quality.

 
Second, when we started movie reviews, there was a long debate about whether to review R-rated movies. Movies rated R should limit their viewership to those over 17 or, for kids 16 and under, to those who are accompanied by a parent. We eventually decided to review those R-rated movies that were being marketed to or would be of interest to older teenagers--so while we wouldn't, for example, review "Glory," we would have reviewed "Superbad."
 
Considering there was a group of boys that looked about 13 at the 2:10 show I attended, it seems like we overestimated the age of teenagers that might be interested in "Harold and Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay."
 
Note: In the interest of letting parents know the movie's content in as much detail as possible, plot spoilers follow after the jump.

Movie Monday: Nim's Island (PG)

Want a good family film to spend quality time with your loved ones? Jennifer Flackett and Mark Levin's newly released movie, Nim's Island, is packed full of adventure that’s sure to be loved by the whole family. With actors such as Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler, an adventure begins for a young girl named Nim and her father, who live on a remote and undiscovered island. The beginning scene depicts Nim's childhood past and the legacy of her mother's death which leaves Nim's father a single parent. As Nim and her father search for an island that her mother found right before her death, Nim's father attempts to raise his 11-year old daughter. Once Nim and her father discover the long-lost island, they begin to make it their home, even taking in pets such as a seal, lizard and pelican. Nim's Island portrays an alternate life, as she lives on an island, is home schooled, and has some very unusual pets. As one of Nim's hobbies, reading novels of Alex Rover, played by Jodie Foster, allows Nim to escape into the novel. Approximately 10 minutes into the film, Nim begins to read her newest novel,which was dropped off by the supply ship. As she begins to read she becomes sucked into the novel, reading about a man named Alex Rover who is taken prisoner and has to fight for his life, as men try to kill him using swords. Regardless of this slightly violent scene, the film focuses upon morals of courage and good character, taught to Nim by her father.

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Sat Mar 25, 2017 @12:00AM
Easter Bunny at Arundel Mills, Hanover
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @12:00AM
Going Wild, Baltimore
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @12:00AM
National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @12:00AM
Y Spring Eggstravagana, Various locations
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @10:00AM
Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails, Baltimore
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @10:00AM
Maryland Day, Edgewater
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @10:00AM
Flower Show: Modern HOMEsteading, Davidsonville
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @10:00AM
Maryland Day, Annapolis
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @ 8:00PM
A Symphony of Colors, Annapolis
Sat Mar 25, 2017 @ 8:00PM
The Taming of the Shrew, Baltimore