NEW YORK (CNS) — A timid tropical fish embarks on a harrowing journey across vast stretches of treacherous ocean to rescue his lost son in the delightful animated adventure Finding Nemo 3D (Disney), now rereleased in 3D nine years after its debut in multiplexes.
With beautiful underwater landscapes and a solid cast lending their voices, director Andrew Stanton creates an enchanting fable about courage, self-sacrifice and the power of love to overcome insurmountable odds.
Marlin (voice of Albert Brooks) is an overly protective clown fish trying his best to raise his only son, Nemo (voice of Alexander Gould), in the relative safety of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. But even the security of their plush sea anemone home is not without hazards — a reality Marlin is all too mindful of, having lost Nemo’s mother and siblings to a coral predator.
On the first day of school, the runtish Nemo finds himself the brunt of classmates’ jokes. Egged on by dares and desperate to be accepted, the impetuous minnow turns a deaf gill to his father’s warnings and swims beyond the reef’s “drop-off,” and out to the open sea to investigate a boat. Before Marlin can reel him in, Nemo is netted by a scuba diver and motored off, leaving Marlin helpless in the boat’s wake.
Befriended by an absent-minded fish, Dory (voice of Ellen DeGeneres), the skittish Marlin takes off into the unknown in search of his son.
Nemo lands in a fish tank in a dentist’s office overlooking Sydney’s harbour, populated by an assortment of kooky tropical fish including the gang’s scarred leader, Gill (voice of Willem Dafoe), who’s itching for a prison break. Nemo has been marked as a birthday present for the dentist’s niece — a rambunctious toddler whose last “gift” ended belly-up and sleeping with the, uh, fishes. Nemo’s plight sparks Gill to plot a daring escape.
Meanwhile, the aquatic odd couple of Marlin and Dory continue their odyssey, with menacing sharks, ravenous gulls, forests of deadly jellyfish and other dangers of the deep standing — or swimming — in their way. But not even the tiny fish’s whale-size heart can guarantee a happy ending or prevent his chances of ever finding Nemo and saving him from being, literally, flushed down the drain.
The film’s real scene-stealers are the trio of bumbling sharks, Bruce, Anchor and Chum (voices of Barry Humphries, Eric Bana and Bruce Spence), who have formed a 12-step program aimed at changing their image as mindless eating machines to friendly ocean neighbours — their support group’s motto is “Fish are friends, not food.” Though the toothy critters supply the biggest guffaws, their gaping jowls may prove scary, especially for young children.
The sequence which finds Marlin and Dory literally making a leap of faith inside a whale echoes the biblical story of Jonah — as well as the Disney classic Pinocchio — hinting at the necessity of surrendering to the will of God in times of despair.
In the absence of a traditional Disney villain, the ocean itself takes on a pivotal role, offering both breathtaking beauty and unfathomable danger.
While some viewers may favour more traditional animation techniques, Finding Nemo elevates computer animation to a new level of fluidity, improving on early Pixar offerings like Toy Story and Monsters Inc. The underwater environments created are visually stunning, ranging from the richly textured colour-gardens of the Great Barrier Reef to the more muted, almost impressionistic, palette of the ocean expanses.
And while Disney’s never-saw-a-heartwarming-plot-that-couldn’t-be-exploited-and-merchandised attitude is to be frowned at, audiences will find it hard not to applaud this whale of a tale.
The Catholic News Service classification is A-I — general patronage.
The Motion Picture Association of America rating is G — general
audiences. All ages admitted.
NEW YORK (CNS) — The Master (Weinstein) is a literate but sterile drama, a wearing cinematic experience further burdened by a degraded view of human sexuality and excessive explicitness in its portrayal.
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s period piece, mostly set in the aftermath of the Second World War, follows the fortunes of beleaguered, alcoholic Navy veteran Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). After being demobilized, Freddie becomes a drifter. Unable to find a place for himself in society, either professionally or personally, he fails at one job after another and dabbles in casual romantic relationships.
Once he crosses paths with charismatic cult leader Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), however, Freddie’s prospects seem to improve. Dodd takes a liking to the irascible newcomer and acquires a taste for the extra potent version of moonshine Freddie likes to cook up for himself.
Freddie not only becomes a favoured follower of Dodd’s, he also submits to Dodd’s version of psychotherapy, known as “processing,” in the hope of controlling his explosive temper. But Freddie’s inner demons keep his relationship with Dodd — known to his devotees by the honorific that supplies the film’s title — a tumultuous one.
Anderson embellishes his meticulously crafted picture with striking visuals, and draws intense performances from his leads. But neither the tormented vet nor the clever peddler of crackpot ideas — Dodd believes that processing puts his subjects in touch with their many past lives — makes a particularly sympathetic figure.
Anderson, moreover, deals with the varied sexual escapades of his characters frivolously. Thus, though Freddie is portrayed as harbouring forlorn hopes for a permanent bond with a girl from his past, his idealistic attitude toward her does not incline him to forsake all others — as demonstrated in a couple of graphic encounters.
An equal lack of restraint characterizes a scene in which Dodd inspires unrestrained bawdiness in his female disciples, who suddenly shed their clothes and prance across the screen in the altogether. However artistically impressive some other elements of the movie may be, the inclusion of such content renders these proceedings unsuitable for all.
The film contains strong sexual content, including graphic non-marital
sexual activity, full nudity and masturbation, references to incest and
venereal disease, some scatological humour, at least one use of profanity
as well as frequent rough and occasional crude language. The Catholic
News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion
Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under
17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Resident Evil: Retribution
NEW YORK (CNS) — The nearly plotless shoot-’em-up Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth entry in the series based on the video game, retains its usual high body count but lowers the splatter factor quite a bit.
Again, writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson puts eternally lithe Milla Jovovich as Alice, whose reaction to the dreaded T-virus has given her superpowers, into her iconic black tights to save the planet from an increasingly pesky infestation of flesh-eating zombies created by that biological weapon. She has a sidekick, Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), and again fights off gun-toting rivals Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) and the spider-clad Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory).
In addition to the undead, Alice also has to negotiate the machinations of the Umbrella Corp., which unleashed the virus, and her occasional outbreaks of maternal feelings when children are threatened. She accomplishes all this without ever smearing her lipstick. What a gal!
An abundance of zombies bursting out of closets and chasing victims down streets puts the boredom factor here at snooze-inducing.
The slow-motion fighting is completely by rote, but there’s far less slicing and dicing and more clean bullet holes this time around.
The film contains gun, knife and martial-arts violence and fleeting
rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is L — limited
adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find
troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted.
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
NEW YORK (CNS) — There’s no need to dread going to see Dredd 3D (Lionsgate), so long as you’re a teenager addicted to violent video games. For Dredd is just that: a gamer’s fantasy come to life, in gory, blood-splattering 3D that will leave many viewers running for the doors.
Director Pete Travis (Vantage Point) has adapted the British graphic novel series 2000 A.D. in this good-vs.-evil story set in a post-apocalyptic future. It’s a grim place and not for the squeamish, as hardly a frame goes by without a head being blown off or a body being skinned alive.
America, we are told, is an irradiated wasteland, where people live in skyscraper ghettos in Mega City One, a crime-ridden metropolis that stretches from Boston to Washington. The only source of law and order are the “Judges,” who roam the streets on way-cool motorcycles in search of delinquents. Justice is swift, as Judges act on the spot as judge, jury, and executioner. Talk about government efficiency!
One Judge stands taller than the rest: Judge Dredd (Karl Urban), a legendary figure both admired and feared throughout the city. You don’t mess with the helmeted Dredd as he bellows in a deep baritone, “I am the law!”
Dredd is assigned a rookie, Cassandra (Olivia Thirlby), and together they investigate the drug epidemic that is sweeping Mega City One. The drug is aptly called “Slo-Mo” for it slows down the passage of time, rendering the user euphoric (and much of the film in slow motion, too).
The drug cartel’s headquarters is the oddly named Peach Trees Block, a 200-story housing complex. In the penthouse lives Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), prostitute turned psychopath leader of the cartel. You don’t mess with Ma-Ma either, as she’s handy with a knife and will stop at nothing to protect her evil empire.
Needless to say, it all leads to a classic, albeit predictable, showdown as Dredd and Cassandra make their way to the top of the Block, with a whole lotta carnage along the way.
Dredd is an assault on the senses. It takes no prisoners with each killing more graphic and gory than the last, gobs of blood and bucketloads of body parts floating stylishly across the screen in slow-motion 3D.
The film contains pervasive brutal and gory violence, including torture, frequent drug use, implied oral sex, a few instances of profanity, and occasional rough language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
Copyright (c) 2012 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops