A Memorable Trip to the Emergency Room
Harry Forbes (Catholic News Service) calls it "a cinematically stunning adult tale. … Though the main story outline is familiar in its classic structure, it is given new life by Del Toro's deft balancing of the harsh real world with the girl's mysterious parallel universe which sheds light on the former, and there are poignant elements of sacrifice and redemption."
J. Robert Parks (Framing Device) is slightly disappointed, but only because it falls short of Del Toro's previous masterpiece, The Devil's Backbone. "The movie isn't quite as strong as Devil's Backbone … in part because the fantastic and historical modes never quite mesh. The fairy tale aspect doesn't have the payoff that you'd expect (not like the ghost story of Devil's Backbone). The finale … is somewhat anti-climactic, and, unlike many fairy tales, the story isn't an allegory for the real world. Furthermore, we don't spend enough time with the historical characters to understand their situation."
But Marcus Yoars (Plugged In) writes that the movie is excessively, gratuitously violent, and definitely not for children. He adds, "Even most adults won't want to (and shouldn't) indulge its grim excesses."
Miss Potter: Lisa Rice (Crosswalk) says the film "is a charming look at the challenges of a gentle, but bold woman trying to buck many spoken and unspoken turn-of-the-century rules and establish a commendable career for herself—without neglecting matters of the heart.Though it's a 'chick flick' any way you slice it, the filmmakers are careful to avoid an over-the-top feministic slant, and the outcome is both sweet and inspiring."
Bob Hoose (Plugged In) says, "In today's movie universe, the charming biopic Miss Potter is an anomaly, if not downright quaint. Foul language does not batter you, no one is shot or beaten, nothing explodes, implodes or regurgitates. And the screen is devoid of toilet-tinged cartoons, near-naked co-eds or insipidly mouthy fratboys. You're left, then, with a sweet, simple story about a young woman's creative imagination and determined spirit."
Letters From Iwo Jima: Christian Hamaker (Crosswalk) says, "As moving and universal as the story and its themes are, Letters From Iwo Jima never gives us the full picture of the Japanese warrior mentality. Yes, the men fought bravely and against all odds in a losing cause, and did so to their deaths. Nothing less was acceptable, as the film clearly shows. But the Japanese war mentality was even more extreme and terrifying."
Adam R. Holz (Plugged In) writes, "That sheer horror comes vividly to life onscreen, forcefully removing the film from any 'entertainment' category, and as such, it shouldn't be encountered without some thoughtfulness. … Perhaps, then, Iwo Jima feels so different from other war movies, especially those of yesteryear, because its ultimate reason for being is not to wave the flag of a particular country or cause. Instead, its twin morals are that the individual acts required of warriors in war are often utterly unspeakable, and that there are good and bad men on both sides of any conflict."
The Good German: Jeff Walls (Past the Popcorn) considers Steven Soderbergh's attempt to craft his own Casablanca. And he concludes, "[W]hereas Casablanca succeeded in creating characters that have become etched in our cultural consciousness, The Good German fails to even create characters that stick with us until we're out of the theater. … I appreciated The Good German for what it is, but unlike some of the more successful throwback pictures—Far from Heaven, Down with Love, Raiders of the Lost Ark—it fails to stand on its own."
Thr3e: David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) calls it "a conventional thriller, and not a very good one at that. … Despite a twist ending that deciphers the title, the movie's flat writing, competent but colorless performances and overall made-for-TV vibe generate only low-grade suspense."
Primeval: David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says the "mostly suspense-free Jaws rip-off is undone by schlocky effects and a script that tries to wedge social-conscience commentary into a B-movie plot."
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