Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Woman in Black

Rated: PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing images
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Ciaran Hinds, Janet McTeer, David Burke, Shaun Dooley
Running Time: 1hr, 35 min.

“During afternoon tea, there’s a shift in the air.
A bone-trembling chill that tells you she’s there.
There are those who believe the whole town is cursed.
But the house in the marsh is by far the worst.
What she wants is unknown, but she always comes back.
The specter of darkness.
The woman in black.”

— The Woman in Black trailer, ©2011 CBS Films

My heart was still pounding for a good several minutes after the movie ended.

Daniel Radcliffe stars as a widowed solicitor sent to a remote village in northern England to settle the estate of a recently deceased woman. The townspeople want nothing to do with him once they find out his business there. But why?

Just as he begins to unravel the mystery, tragedy strikes, and the village is forced to acknowledge its terrible fate.

This is a good, old-fashioned Gothic ghost story. Abandoned old mansion. Mysterious deaths. Creepy shadows. The PG-13 rating is spot on. We brought our 12-year-old son, but that is because he is used to scary, Gothic stuff, and we are an Edgar Allan Poe/Tim Burton/Halloween-throughout-the-year sort of family.

There were definitely some tense moments and several things that could haunt a younger child’s psyche for quite some time and cause nightmares. The reason the woman in black comes back to the village could be pretty scary for younger children.

I would say leave the young ones at home, but, by all means, bring your 12+ kids if they enjoy a good scare, and have a frightfully good time.

I know I did.

Reviewed by Karen Berner

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Secret World of Arrietty - Borrowed from Japan


Rated: G
Runtime: 94 minutes
Starring: Bridgit Mendler, Will Arnett, David Henrie, Carol Burnett 

I thought I knew all I needed to know about this movie before I brought the kids.  Well, I was wrong. 

What I did know:  
It was cute and fun for all of us and it was based on the book, The Borrowers, by Mary Norton. 

What I didn't know:  
This animated version was first released in Japan in 2010.  And Mary Norton also wrote The Magic Bed Knob; or, How to Become a Witch in Ten Easy Lessons and it's sequel, Bonfires and Broomsticks.  If there are any Disney fans out there you'll probably already know that these two books became the basis for the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks (one of my all time favorites, by the way.)  

The story:  
Borrowers are very small versions of people that live under our houses and come out at night to "borrow" items we will never miss such as a cube of sugar or small lost items.  A little goes a long way for these tiny people.  If a Borrower is seen by a human being (they call us Beings) then they must pack up and move because a Being's curiosity is never satisfied.

It just happens that Arrietty is now fourteen and about to embark on her first Borrow.  She is seen by a new member of the household, Shawn.  He has been brought to the country to be kept quiet and still before a life threatening heart surgery.  

The family decides they must move but a lot happens as they start planning and readying themselves to find a new home. Arrietty's father is slightly injured while scouting for a new home and is brought back by another Borrower.  There is hope there are more Borrowers to be found out in the wide world - which happens to be even more wide because of their size.

I brought my eleven-year-old and four-year-old and other than one trip to the bathroom, they were both very still and engrossed in the movie.

The very first things I noticed in this movie were the sounds after Arrietty is introduced.  They are all as if you are hearing through her ears.  Imagine hearing a being many times your size walking past you.

The animation is different than that of movies like Kung Fu Panda.  The colors are a bit more muted but the scenes were gorgeously depicted.  Though all animation is art, this is so rich it's worth the trip to the theater just to see the beauty of it.  

There wasn't a lot of action or humor so I was a bit surprised that the film held the attention of the four-year-old for more than half-way through before she had to make a trip out and about.  Yes, the trip to the bathroom was a ruse.  We refilled popcorn and pop and never did use the restroom.  Faker.

Of course, the biggest action scene took place while we were roaming the halls of the theater.

Afterward, when I asked the girls what they thought of the movie, they both said they loved it.  But I think the excitement of actually going to the movie was more exciting than the movie itself.

Though not full of action, thick with suspense or laugh out loud funny this is a definite yes for full family viewing.  There is plenty to keep all ages entertained for the hour and a half it takes to watch.  I did not bring along my two-year-old for fear of missing most of the movie, but this could have easily been one she would have sat through.

Reviewed by JC Phelps