March 18, 2011

LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers (2010)

WATCHING A MOVIE with your kids that’s a toy or product tie-in can be a risky gamble. Not only could your kids end up asking for the toys that “star” in the movie, but the movie itself could be just a 90-minute toy commercial with no substance or, even worse, unwatchable (though we did have moderate success with Rescue Heroes: The Movie).

So when Netflix recommended LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers, I was hesitant to act. But since LEGO has been a memorable part of childhood for generations (mine and my boys’ included), sentimentality overtook me and we checked it out.

The snap-build world of LEGO comes to life in this full-length adventure, featuring master builder and adventurer Clutch Powers and his band of plastic friends as they fight to save the universe across time and space. From Space Police prison to the medieval castles of Ashlar, Clutch and his pals put their skills to work to fend off an evil wizard and his dreaded skeleton army.


From its thrilling opening sequence (borrowing from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Aliens) to its over-the-top climax, LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers delivers pure fun and entertainment. It’s amazingly well done, and not just for a direct-to-video movie about a toy line; it easily could have been a theatrical hit.

Clutch Powers features top-shelf production values, inspired and impressive set pieces, ambitious storytelling, a grandiose soundtrack worthy of a major motion picture, and a third act so compelling I caught myself getting sucked into it as much as my boys did.

In addition, director Howard E. Baker and screenwriter Tom Rogers know how to give a few nods to the grown-ups watching, with smart references to Indiana Jones, Aliens, Jason and the Argonauts, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, and the Jedi mind trick.

The LEGO logo placement is a bit blatant at times (as if we don’t know what we’re watching), but never mind. LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers is a highly entertaining cross-section of action, sci-fi, and medieval epic, with some positive messages woven in about loyalty and teamwork. I can’t recommend it enough as the next film you should check out for a family movie night.


What did Dash (and Jack-Jack) think?
They had a great time watching LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers – laughing at the jokes, soaking in the action, and staying glued to the screen for the big finale. A testament to their love of it: After we watched it Friday night, they woke up the next morning before FilmMother and me, asking by our bedside, “Can we watch the LEGO movie again?”

Will your kids like it?
Absolutely. It’s a smart, fun-filled, thrill-ride of a movie.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Even if she doesn’t think she wants to, convince her to watch it with the family. It’s a great movie experience for you all to enjoy together.

Uh-oh. We’re gonna need some bigger blocks.

LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers
* Director: Howard E. Baker
* Screenwriter: Tom Rogers
* Stars: Ryan McPartlin, Yvonne Strahovski, Paul Michael Glaser, Roger Rose, Jeff Bennett, Stephan Cox, Alex Désert, Chris Hardwick, Christopher Emerson, Richard Doyle
* MPAA Rating: N/A (basically G)

Buy LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers from >>
Rent LEGO: The Adventures of Clutch Powers from Netflix >>

March 13, 2011

Win a Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Prize Pack!

YOU COULD WIN a prize pack from 20th Century Fox's upcoming film Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, opening March 25.

Prize pack includes:
  • The books Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules
  • A "Wimpy Kid" cardboard standee
About the Movie:
In this sequel to 2010’s surprise hit, Greg Heffley (the kid who made “wimpy” cool) is back in an all-new family comedy based on the best-selling follow-up novel by Jeff Kinney. As he begins seventh grade, Greg and his older brother – and chief tormentor – Rodrick must deal with their parents’ misguided attempts to have them bond.

How to Enter:
Comment on this post by March 25, 2011. I will then pick one comment at random and post the winner soon after. (Winner will then have to e-mail me his/her mailing address to receive their prize pack.)

  • You must have a link to your e-mail address on your Blogger profile page. If not, you must provide your e-mail address in your comment.
  • Prize pack is available to United States mailing addresses only.
Good luck!

March 7, 2011

Metropia (2009)

WHILE I DO REVIEW plenty of animated films for kids, I’ve covered some adult animated fare as well: Heavy Metal, Watership Down, etc.

So when I saw the trailer for the decidedly adult-looking animated film Metropia, I was intrigued to learn more…

In the year 2024, the world is running out of oil and the underground train systems of Europe have been connected, creating a gigantic subway network. In a suburb of Stockholm, telemarketer Roger (Vincent Gallo) tries to stay away from the underground because every time he enters, he hears a stranger’s voice in his head. Is someone trying to control him? Looking for help, he turns to the mysterious Nina (Juliette Lewis) – but the further they travel, the deeper Roger becomes involved in a dark conspiracy.


The uniquely animated characters in Metropia have a photorealistic quality – like Drew Friedman illustrations come to life. But while the film is stylishly animated and includes arresting art direction by Martin Hultman (painting a dank, dreary, Orwellian landscape), the execution of the story is taxing.

We’re forced to sit through loooong stretches of Roger, Nina, and other supporting characters talking. Or walking. Or talking and walking. While that may be enough action for a film by Tarantino or Woody Allen, it’s painful to sit through here. Maybe director (and former graffiti artist) Tarik Saleh thinks the conversations between Roger and Nina create enough momentum to carry the picture, but the only momentum they invoke is making your eyelids move downward.

Any attempts at action don’t happen until the last 15 minutes; by then it’s too little, way too late. And the “shocking” use of a Hello Kitty doll as a weapon of mass destruction is only shocking as in, “I’d be shocked if Sanrio actually gave the filmmakers permission to use her likeness this way.”

While Metropia takes place in a grimy futureworld, the viewer experience is quite sterile. Whatever point Saleh and his two fellow screenwriters are trying to make – some undercooked message about consumerism, Big Brother, and mind control – is a mishmash of ideas that have been done before, and done better.

Saleh started out making animated shorts for Swedish television. Had Metropia been a short film versus a full-length feature, he – and anyone who’s sat through all 86 minutes of this plodding picture – might have been better off.


Is it suitable for your kids?
Metropia features a noticeable amount of profanity, plus a few scenes of nudity and sexual situations. In terms of violence, we see an open-eyed dead woman being zipped up in a body bag, a man is pushed in front of an oncoming subway train (dying off-screen), several people die in a bomb explosion, and a man is shot in the head. I would say young teens or possibly tweens would be the minimum age group suitable for viewing.

Will your FilmMother want to watch it?
Doubt it. Too bleak, too slow, too long. Look elsewhere for something to enjoy together.

* Director: Tarik Saleh
* Screenwriters: Stig Larsson, Fredrik Edin, Tarik Saleh
* Stars: Vincent Gallo, Juliette Lewis, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgard, Alexander Skarsgard, Sofia Helin
* MPAA Rating: N/A

Buy Metropia from >>
Rent Metropia from Netflix >>


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