Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Review – The Emperor's New Groove

For a Disney production this is sort of a small animation, with production values somewhere between usual theatrical releases and their straight-to-video sequels. For example, the cast is solid enough, but almost all of them are sitcom vets rather than more well-established movie stars. The story – a simplistic bit of fluff about an obnoxious Incan emperor turned into a llama – depends heavily on lead voice David Spade’s personal brand of humor. Beyond that it’s mostly sight gags, well-executed but still little more than physical comedy. There’s the usual collection of in-jokes only adults will get combined with a strictly-for-kids moral about the importance of friendship. If you like Spade’s usual humor (toned down for the Disney audience, of course), then you’re likely to have at least some fun with this production. Mildly amusing

Saturday, September 6, 2003

Review – The Endurance

Despite the aspect ratio, this comes across as a PBS production. A slickly-produced member of the species, but a public TV artifact nonetheless. That notwithstanding, this is an excellent documentary about the ill-fated Shackleton expedition. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that despite the hardships faced by the crew – especially after they were forced to abandon their ice-locked ship – they managed to save a vast quantity of motion picture and still film of their experiences. I found the fates of the expedition’s dogs and cat a little hard to take, but other than that the production was nothing short of fascinating. How anyone could survive for nearly two years under such conditions is almost beyond imagining. This is a must-see for anyone with an interest in Antarctica or the Age of Exploration or just a general curiosity about the outer limits of human endurance. Worth seeing

Friday, September 5, 2003

Review – Chicago

If you go into this expecting a Bob Fosse musical starring Renee Zellwegger, Richard Gere and Catherine Zeta-Jones, you’re going to get exactly what you expect. The production’s expensive and elaborate, but still at its heart its just a big Broadway musical. Zellwegger does a fine job as Roxy the homicidal ingĂ©nue, and Gere matches her as her smarmy lawyer. Zeta-Jones doesn’t have quite the screen presence her co-stars enjoy, but she can dance the steps well enough. The supporting cast is solid as well, especially Queen Latifah. Upshot: if you like musicals you’re in business, because this is a fine example of the genre. Worth seeing