Friday, January 27, 2006


Cole Hauser The Cave Movie Directed by Bruce Hunt
Starring Cole Hauser
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

Thirty years ago a few Romanian military men went looking for the ruins of an old church, hidden amongst the Carpathian mountains. They found the church ...and something very unholy. During an avalanche that miraculously happens upon their arrival at this defunct holy shrine, the men are dropped into a cavern, a cave really. And something insidious is waiting for them.

Skip ahead to the present day and we find a group of excavators moving rocks away from the buried church. They discover the cavern beneath it, and within the cavern is a labyrinth underwater tunnel system. Lakes, streams, rivers, and dangerous curves. So they call in the world’s foremost cave diving experts to help explore the area.

Once inside the cave, the divers patrol its waters and discover strange creatures, like slimy moles, slithering around. But are these things at the top of the food chain down here?

As the cave diving crew drops further and further into the cave’s depths, members of their team gradually disappear in a most unappetizing fashion. Humans are NOT at the top of the food chain. Not down here.

And did one of those creatures have a tattoo on its ...whatever that is? Is that the same tattoo we saw on one of the Romanian soldiers thirty years ago?

It’s just too easy to bash the hell outta this film, so I will. Ready?

First, the characters. I didn’t know nor care about any of these putz’s. Cole Hauser (who starred in PITCH BLACK, 2000) plays Jack, the leader of the dive team, and it is he who first finds the larger man-eaters that live beneath the surface. But his character — indeed all of the characters — are so underdeveloped that you might cheer as they get killed off.

Second, the plot. Exactly what was it? Was it about a creature trying to escape its cavernous cage (as the ending suggests)? Or was it a kill-off style film in the vein of ALIEN, ALIENS, and PITCH BLACK? I’m not sure.

Third, the creatures. An obvious steal from the aforementioned ALIEN and PITCH BLACK (big jawed teeth like ALIEN and the sonar capabilities from PITCH BLACK).

Fourth, the science. It take eons for evolutionary changes in any species, but the makers of this film would have you believe that it could happen via a parasite in a matter of hours or days. Come on!

The only (partial) saving grace for this movie was the underwater camera work. The caves were beautiful and shot in high definition. But, unfortunately, we don’t see enough of this and only get zinged with killer Pitch Black Aliens.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Ziyi Zhang Memoirs of a Geisha Movie Directed by Rob Marshall
Starring Ziyi Zhang
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



Sometimes films are excellent. Sometimes they exceed our expectations. And sometimes — just sometimes — they transcend all of that and turn into something more; they become a work of art.

Such is the case with MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA directed by Rob Marshall (CHICAGO, 2002). Based on Arthur Golden’s best-selling novel of the same name, this movie goes beyond cinema and transports you to another time and country.

The film begins on the shores of pre-WWII Japan in a tiny fishing village where a mother lay dying. Two daughters peer between wood slats at their father as he speaks to an ominous looking man in a nice suit. Chiyo (an amazing Suzuka Ohgo) and her older sister are soon ripped away from their family and forced into a world of servitude. Chiyo’s older sister is lost to houses of ill-repute, while Chiyo is pulled into a strange yet beautiful home run by a demanding "mother" and "auntie." Chiyo has entered the realm of the Geisha.

Being a pretty young girl with blue eyes, Chiyo is selected to go to Geisha school. But bad blood is brewing in Chiyo’s new home. A beautiful Geisha already lives there and quickly becomes jealous of Chiyo. Terrible threats and beatings ensue, and one lonely day, while Chiyo is on a bridge overlooking a river, a handsome man approaches (Ken Watanabe, THE LAST SAMURAI) with kind words and gives her some sweet ice. They chat and Chiyo is immediately enamored with him. She now has a goal. She will become the best Geisha ever so that they might meet again.

As Chiyo grows and becomes more and more beautiful and wanted, the house she lives in is ready to ignite. Now fully Geisha and fully grown (Ziyi Zhang, RUSH HOUR 2), she is bribed away from Mama-san and moves in with Mameha (Michelle Yeoh, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) who teaches her the true nature of Geisha.

World War II, other men, jealous Geisha, and years of isolation block Chiyo’s plans to meet up with her first love. But through perseverance, prayer, and trust, Chiyo’s wishes cannot be denied.

This film is, as stated earlier, a piece of art. Every frame, every image, is carefully crafted, taking into consideration light, color, imagery, facial features, the times, and a multitude of other items I can’t even begin to explain nor understand.

The initial dark lighting of the film was an excellent way to start, giving us a feel for those sullen times, and also letting us know that this part of the narrator's memory was fuzzy and long ago. But as the film progresses, we see brighter colors and light. By the time the film wraps up, the colors are so wondrous you feel like you could eat the screen or, at the very least, reach out and pluck this flower or that.

There’s been a lot of commentary about the use of Chinese actors and actresses in prime roles rather than Japanese. This is undeniably so. But it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of it (have we become so self-righteous that we can’t have other races playing in such roles? Does anyone remember Marlon Brando in TEAHOUSE OF THE AUGUST MOON?)

Could the production crew have tried harder to put a Japanese native in one of those positions? Probably. But this film is so sumptuous, I didn’t even notice the differences (no disrespect meant to anyone Japanese.)

Click here for the Memoirs of a Geisha movie trailer!

Oscar Award Winner: Achievement in Costume Design

Oscar Award Winner: Achievement in Art Direction

Oscar Award Winner: Achievement in Cinematography

Golden Globe Winner: Best Original Score - Motion Picture

BAFTA Award Winner: Achievement in Film Music

BAFTA Award Winner: Cinematography

BAFTA Award Winner: Costume Design


Miss Congeniality 2 MovieSandra Bullock Directed by John Pasquin
Starring Sandra Bullock
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



I’m learning not to listen to film critics. Too many times, as of late, I’ve watched a movie that these "film-wise professionals" have rated as poor or excellent, and completely disagreed with them.

Such was the case with this film. Having watched MISS CONGENIALITY when it first came out years ago, I really enjoyed that movie (and so did most critics), but when this sequel showed up and received all kinds of negative press, I stayed away from the theater, not wanting to see something that might diminish my enjoyment of the first flick.

But my fears were unfounded ....

MISS CONGENIALITY 2 is a good film. It’s not great. It’s not as good as its predecessor, but it is entertaining, funny and sexy.

Sandra Bullock always looks good in my opinion (even when she’s stuffed into an FBI agent outfit), and she’s got enough attitude and sense of comedic timing that this movie was a nice return to character Gracie Hart, the loveable Fed who infiltrated the Miss America pageant five years ago. And now, after having been seen on national TV, everyone knows her face, thus disrupting her ability to act as an effective agent.

So "the Bureau" decides to use her as a PR prop and sends her out to give the FBI a morale boost in the public sector. She appears on Regis and Kelly, and even has her own entourage (a gay hair dresser and a make-up specialist.) But when her good friends Miss America (Heather Burns, YOU’VE GOT MAIL, 1998) and Stan Fields (William Shatner, STAR TREK) are kidnaped, she takes the investigation into her own hands with the help of Sam Fuller (Regina King, HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK, 1998), who might remind some of the Gracie Hart we all knew before her pageant days.

The comedy is spot-on and, at times, laugh-out-loud (especially during a stage scene involving a "Vegas girl" and "Tina Turner".) The acting is also equally believable.

The only issue some might have is the convenient discovery/understanding of where Miss America and Stan Fields might be killed (think about a pirate ship in Las Vegas.)

Even so, this film is light and easy viewing with a great touch of laughter.

Click here for the Miss Congeniality 2 movie trailer!


HARRY POTTER & THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN Daniel Radcliffe Directed by Alfonso Cuaron
Reviewed by Byron Merritt


I’m going to admit something here that I probably shouldn’t: I haven’t read ANY of the books in the HARRY POTTER series (don’t hurt me!) It might be because everyone says "Oh you just HAVE to read this!" that puts me off. I’m not the type of person to follow all the lemmings over the cliff. I tend to enjoy more obscure stuff. But I digress...

What I don’t mind doing, though, is watching cinema and I’ve thus far seen all of the "Potter films." And this one I found to be quite different. Although the second in the series (THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, 2002) was pretty dark, it pales (brightens?) in comparison to this third installment.

Harry is breaking the rules and barely getting away with it. He’s using his powers outside of school and in general muggles population (he causes a relative to inflate to great size and drift away). And when he can no longer stand staying with his aunt and uncle, Harry decides to leave and seek refuge in the outside world. The trouble, though, is that a dark creature seems to be stalking him. Was that a wolf peering at Harry through the brush?

Eventually Harry makes it back to Hogwarts and discovers that a psycho prisoner—Sirius Black, played by the wonderful Gary Oldman (BATMAN BEGINS, 2005)—has escaped his cage and may be stalking him. Was Sirius responsible in some way for Harry’s parents’ death?

Dementos, dark specters that resemble wraiths, are assigned to the perimeter of Hogwarts and Harry has some very uneasy feelings about them. They seem inordinately interested in him, too.

With the help of Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, 2001) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson, HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE, 2001) Harry is led down a dark path, a path believed to contain the secret to his mother’s and father’s death.

Friends and enemies are often intertwined within the same characters as this third story unravels. Director Alfonso Cuaron (Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, 2001) gives some excellent direction to a film that could’ve easily gotten out of control. With the multiple twists and turns (i.e., time travel, werewolf friends, etc.) this film flowed smoothly and was packed with angst and action.

The special effects (specifically the early bus ride) are pulled off nicely and give a slight sense of the whimsical without going overboard. But the previously mentioned wraith-like Dementos are pretty creepy and could easily freak-out children under 12 years old (so be careful, parents.)

Again, not having read any of the books in this series, I have no idea where the storyline is going. But things tend to be darkest before the storm (forgive the cliche), then they clear. So my assumption is that things will come to a head very soon for Harry and his Hogwart friends. Damn! I might have to pick up one of the novels now!

Friday, January 20, 2006


The Dish MovieSam Neill Directed by Rob Sitch
Starring Sam Neill
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



Only having been four years old when the first lunar landing took place, I have no recollection about the excitement that surrounded this monumental achievement. So many men and women had dedicated their very lives to this one moment in time that it stopped the world (not just one nation) and allowed all of us the chance to see just how far human beings could go in their quest to reach that next horizon. And although THE DISH is about one backward country radio telescope in Parkes, Australia that beamed those first Armstrong-on-the-moon images to billions of people is much more than that.

Cliff Buxton (
Sam Neill, JURASSIC PARK) is the director of the Parkes telescope, a sensitive piece of hardware surrounded by sheep paddocks. Seeing such a large array (this telescope could actually deliver telemetry, track the lunar module, AND send back television images) in an austere landscape made me pause several times during the film and marvel at the sheer beauty of this monstrosity against the setting of Australia’s back country.

Initially the film takes on the feel of something homey; a gentle side-trip down a path we all know too well (the first manned mission to the moon.) These hick-like folk are in charge of something as important as the lunar landing?! But the viewer gets pulled into the film in a very intimate way. We see that these ARE simple people, but ones who take their jobs very seriously ...but not overly so. The comedy, like the movie itself, is light and sprinkled throughout the relationships (even when they lose
Apollo 11 as they approach the moon and lie to NASA about it!)

I found myself getting choked-up as the world — and this little microcosm of people in Parkes — held their breath as those first pictures of man’s footprint on the moon took place (during hurricane force winds that threatened to blow over the telescope and kill the men inside operating it; they realized the importance of that moment and were willing to risk everything.)

If you’d like to take a trip down memory lane (ala 1969) but want a different road, THE DISH is a nice film to try out. Highly recommended.

Click here for The Dish movie trailer!

Friday, January 13, 2006


Kingdom of Heaven Movie
Orlando Bloom
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Orlando Bloom
Reviewed by Byron Merritt


KINGDOM OF HEAVEN is an impossible story with a confusing time-line. Balian (Orlando Bloom, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN) is the unlikely hero of Jerusalem during the dark days of the early Christian crusades. Visited by his (up to that point) unknown father (Liam Neeson, KINSEY) shortly after the death of his wife and child, Balian learns that he is the son of a noble Templar Knight.

Immediately thrown into their midsts, he learns swordplay "in the name of God." His quest, he soon learns, is to protect those within the walls of Jerusalem, even from themselves. When war breaks out amongst a group of Muslim warriors (something that’s set up rather slip-shoddily by Brendan Gleeson, COLD MOUNTAIN) and the Christian army gets slaughtered out on the nearby plains, Balian becomes the protector of the city, knighting every able-bodied man willing and able to carry a sword or shoot a bow.

Director Ridley Scott (BLADE RUNNER, 1982) gives us an overly-righteous GLADIATOR flick that has plenty of action but very little substance.

The main issues are with historical accuracies (which were apparently thrown to the wind!), character development (shallow!), and a time-line that was impossible to follow.

So many things were inaccurate that it’s difficult to know where to start. Costumes, the activities of women of the times, the non-punished actions of those who cast-out blasphemy, etc., all made this film completely unbelievable.

The characters, many of whom come and go in quick succession, are so underdeveloped that most viewers might not (at least I didn’t) give a rat’s ass what happens to them.

And the time-line. There are no text notifications on the screen to let us know how much time has passed. Balian digs wells with friends and fellow citizens, travels far and wide, sails around the hub of the world, returns to his blacksmith shop, and we have no idea—NO IDEA!—how much time has passed.

I will say that the action/battle scenes were fairly impressive, but many of these types of combat sequences are becoming passe and even cliche-ish. So nothing new can be credited in this department either.

I’m a pretty big fan of Ridley Scott’s work, too (I all but gushed over the aforementioned GLADIATOR and BLADE RUNNER, as well as ALIEN, MATCHSTICK MEN, and BLACK HAWK DOWN), but this most certainly isn’t up to his normally high standards in my humble opinion.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Ralph Fiennes The Constant Gardner Movie Directed by Fernando Meirelles
Starring Ralph Fiennes
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

THE CONSTANT GARDNER is one of those films that sneaks up on you and bites you in the butt. Mislabeled as a "thriller", this movie packs a wallop of a punch, leading us into the life of a man tortured by the murder of his wife, yet showing us an intimate love story that unfolds after her death.

The setting is present day Africa and the man is Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes, THE ENGLISH PATIENT), a British diplomat who struggles with a strong-willed wife (Rachel Weisz, THE MUMMY) named Tessa. Tessa is throwing a wrench into the works of the multimillion dollar operations of the pharmaceutical industry that use African men and women as test subjects for new drugs. And one of these new medicines (which is poised to make billions of dollars) may be killing people.

With too much money at stake, the drug company — that happens to be backed by the British government — takes its own action and kills Tessa.

Now Justin is on the case, trying to uncover what it was his wife had discovered and who was behind her murder. As he travels this road, though, he battles within himself the thoughts that Tessa may have been unfaithful ...only to learn that her love for him knew no bounds.

The direction of THE CONSTANT GARDNER by Fernando Meirelles is fascinating. His unorthodox use of scattered events and time allowed for some interesting aspects, most notably a character flow that grew backwards from the story ...for a while. About halfway through the movie the continual forward motion of time starts up, with no flashbacks, and allows the viewer to see a pleasant (if somewhat fatalistic) ending.

There’s no heavy-handed message that forces itself upon the viewer, either. Like immersing yourself in a steaming hot-tub, this film also gently lowers you into its waters, giving you a feel for what might lay ahead.

It was also nice to see characters that were so multifaceted. Friends became enemies, enemies became friends, and acquaintances could very well help or kill any one of the movie’s main characters.

This is definitely a film that’ll get a few Oscar nods in my estimation.

Oscar Award Winner: Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Golden Globe Award Winner: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
BAFTA Award Winner: Editing - Motion Picture

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Good Night And Good Luck MovieDavid Strathairn Directed by George Clooney
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



It was with great joy that I finally got to see GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK today. This is film-making and tension at its best. Although there’s no bloodshed or external battles, the strain of what was going on during the McCarthy hearings in the 50's is palpable in George Clooney’s excellent script.

Not having been born until years later, I only remember my parents commenting on how disgraceful the nation felt for letting a bully push around individuals and companies without due process here in the U.S. (where we pride ourselves on a system of justice!)

The film is taut with dangerous choices that could have very well ended the careers of thousands of people at
CBS. Edward R. Murrow (played beautifully by David Strathairn) pulls off the performance of a lifetime by using every mannerism ever noted in Murrow’s early television career. The close-up facial shots were excellent and added tension to the film without any musical score (music is only used as a kind of introduction to different segments of the story but sung in low jazz tones by legendary singer Dianne Reeves). The use of black and white film adds an extra sense of the time period and allowed George Clooney and company to meld together stock footage of McCarthy and other Senators in a very seamless fashion.

It is noteworthy to point out that fear was the prime method that allowed McCarthy to continue his ridiculous claims of communist infiltration into the United States (people feared the communists because of the nuclear threat and because they felt that the communists would overrun our beloved country ....boy, does this sound familiar. Are we still in the 1950s? Hmm. Is George Bush and company allowed to get away with lots of things because of the fear of bombings, religious fundamentalists, and those who disagree with America?)

The "you’re either with us or against us" mentality is easily focused on in the film by allowing Senator McCarthy to play and hang himself. If you were against McCarthy, you were a communist or, at the very least, a communist sympathizer (watching him attack Murrow as a communist was ridiculous).

It’s funny to read the mind-numbing reviews of individuals at and other places who think that there WERE communists in high places within our government. And they still believe it! Even after the fall of communism in the USSR. Grow up gang. It’s the 21st century. The only thing we need fear is not questioning our leaders, and this movie is a nice reawakening to that thought.

Click here for the Good Night & Good Luck movie trailer!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Closer movieNatalie PortmanDirected by Mike Nichols
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



CLOSER is one of those films you have to prepare yourself for. Anyone who’s seen a play that’s been adapted to film will know that there’s not a helluva lot of action (this one being Patrick Marber’s excellent Broadway play). But you can get some excellent dialogue and great character studies.

Meet four screwed-up but beautiful people: Alice (Natalie Portman), an American stripper just arrived in London who gets bumped by a car; Dan (Jude Law), an obituary columnist for a local newspaper; Anna (Julia Roberts), a professional photographer who’s recently divorced; and Larry (Clive Owen), a dermatologist with serious sexual issues.

When Dan sees Alice hit by the car, he rushes to her aid and helps her to the hospital, where she’s treated and released. But a strange relationship develops as the two banter back and forth with some snappy dialogue and incisive glances. Dan also knows Anna, the photographer, and is "in love" with her and tries to get her into a relationship. But when she refuses (initially) Dan and Alice move in together. But he’s not through with Anna. Dan pretends to be her during an on-line chat session with Larry, the dermatologist, and asks to meet him at the London Aquarium, where Dan knows Anna visits and shoots film often. Thus, Larry makes an ass of himself when he first meets Anna, but they soon are entwined in a relationship, too.

About a year later, because of Dan’s persistence, Anna relents and forms a relationship with him, even though she’s now married to Larry. And Larry is a bit taken with Alice (the stripper), too. Sound convoluted? It is, but it’s also terribly insightful into the lives of human beings.

As I stated at the beginning of this review, the movie-watcher needs to be prepared for a film like this before sitting down with it. It’s not fast-paced or action driven. It’s ALL ABOUT THE CHARACTERS. The awful and wonderful things we do to each other isn’t candy-coated, and the language is brusque and often pornographic.

There are also some nice little secrets about the characters that seep into the film and add a titillating surprise for those who watch CLOSER than most (for instance, check out "Alice’s" passport toward the end of the film as she re-enters the United States).

Be warned, though, this film isn’t for everyone. Children and preteens should NOT watch it. Those who don’t care for the vulgarities of sex-talk should also avoid it. But if you enjoy intense characters doing profound things to each other, you’ll undoubtedly delight in this little flick.

Click here for the Closer movie trailer!

Friday, January 06, 2006


Dark Water movieJennifer Connelly Directed by Walter Salles
Reviewed by Byron Merritt



How far would you go to protect your child? We often hear parents say that they’d die for them, but dying is only going so far. What would you be willing to endure in the afterlife for your child ...and perhaps someone else’s kid?

DARK WATER, directed by Walter Salles and starring Jennifer Connelly, we get to see exactly how far a damaged mother will go for her child.

Dahlia (Connelly) is going through a bitter divorce and custody battle. For her job’s sake, Dahlia is forced to move outside the hub of New York City and into a dark, dank apartment complex on Roosevelt Island. With her comes her daughter, Ceci (
Ariel Gade), a ten-year-old with a perceptive extrasensory ability. Or does she have that ability? As soon as they enter the apartment complex, Ceci begins to feel poorly and asks to leave, but her mother insists that they check out the apartment. They soon move in and stranger things begin happening: dark water drips from the ceiling, Dahlia sees her mother (who’d abandoned her) in strange dreams, Ceci talks to an imaginary friend named Natasha, and the elevator button for their floor (#9) is burned or damaged.

As the plot unfolds, we learn that the neighbors directly above Dahlia and Ceci’s apartment were Russian immigrants who had a child, but neither the child nor the parents have been seen in some time. Did something foul happen to them? Further research by Dahlia’s divorce attorney (played by Tim Roth ) shows that the adults from the upstairs apartment are separated and living apart ...but neither of them have their daughter, who’s name happens to be Natasha. Where is she? Is she the same Natasha that Ceci talks to in her imagination? Are Ceci and Natasha somehow connected with the dark water dripping from their ceiling?

The tone and dark, wet scenes set the stage for
DARK WATER in a very revealing fashion. Water plays a vital part of how the viewer perceives much of what is shown on-screen, giving the entire production a rather somber (if downright depressing) feel. This is the prime strength of the movie, getting us into how Jennifer Connelly’s character feels and why she reacts the way she does (especially after seeing her as a young girl in the opening scenes, waiting for her negligent mother to come and get her from school ...and again, it’s raining).

Much has been said about this film regarding how much was intended to be psychological versus supernatural. But for me, it was all supernatural. The only part the psychology of Connelly’s character played in the film was, again, helping set the tone and as a method for one ghostly apparition to feed off of. If Ceci (the daughter) can see the ghost, then it’s not a psychological breakdown on her mother’s part.

Comparisons between
THE RING and THE GRUDGE are pretty obvious, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the film. But it did make me wonder about how many other thriller films out there are using the same format now. How about something original guys?

Click here for the Dark Water movie trailer!

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Michael Angarano Sky High movie Directed by Mike Mitchell
Reviewed by Byron Merritt

Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) is not your everyday high school freshman. His mother and father (Steve The Commander, Kurt Russell, and Josie Jetstream, Kelly Preston) are superheroes who save the Earth from complete obliteration on a daily basis before dashing home to their "normal" jobs (real estate sales). Will’s first day of school will be at Sky High, his father’s alma-mater, a place where the offspring of other superheroes congregate and learn how to harness their powers. Trouble is, though, Will’s powers haven’t materialized (kind of like a set of wisdom teeth that haven’t come in yet).

His neighbor and lifelong friend, Layla (Danielle Panabaker), tells him not to worry about it, it’ll happen. Easy for her to say, she can make trees grow and manipulate nature. Will hides his lack of powers from his parents and his new schoolmates. But not for long. On the freshman’s first day, Coach Boomer (a gym teacher played by Bruce Campbell, BUBBA HO-TEP) is assigned to decide who becomes a superhero and who’s a simple sidekick. And when Will can’t do anything, he is flung into the dregs of the sidekicks. But he finds friends there, simple guys and gals who have limited powers. Some can only glow or turn into a puddle of goo, but they’re all nice. And they cling to Will because of who his mother and father are (the two strongest superheroes of all time).

Will’s willingness to stick with his true friends will be tested as other forces and higher classmen shmooze for his attention.

And what’s a superhero without a super-villain. Enter an old villain that Will’s dad defeated years ago and put him/her in Will’s school and you’ve added a new layer to a freshman’s problems.

SKY HIGH is fun, cheeky, and clean family film viewing. There are lots of gags for adults and children alike and they’re spread out fairly evenly throughout the movie, making the pacing and action smooth.

There are also some great cameo appearances by super actresses and former superheroes. Linda Carter (WONDER WOMAN) plays Sky High’s principal (a perfect role for her), and Cloris Leachman again appears as a wacky character: a school nurse with x-ray vision.

Any issues I had with the movie were relegated to its extremely transparent plot and some cheesy dialogue (although I think some of that cheesiness was on purpose; a harkening back to the days of cheap TV sitcoms).

The message of staying true to your friends (regardless of their stature at school) smacks the viewer in the face, but it’s not a bad message for teens and preteens to see as they encounter the peer pressures of high school.

This IS a fun film, no doubt about it. The relationships (be it father/son or girlfriend/boyfriend) are executed well and get the viewer into these superkids’ lives in a pretty intimate way. The CGI is decent (not great, but good). And the over-muscled costumes are pretty funny, too.