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Summer 2003

Click here for a few words about movie theatres in West Michigan.

It's summer Blockbuster time, and it promises to be a BIG summer of movies in 2003. Already, we've had a couple of the biggest and it's not even summer vacation for some of the local school kids.

It's also a Summer of Sequels -- one newspaper report says that there are twice as many sequels comng out in Summe 2003 than Summer 2002. See Dr. Phil's Rule of Sequels.

A few notes on DVD/VHS and sneaks for the future (Fall and Christmas 2003) are included at the end.

New! (5/02 - X2: X-Men United) . (5/10 - A Mighty Wind) . (5/14 - The Matrix Reloaded) . (5/30 - The Italian Job) . (6/08 - The Matrix Reloaded [Reloaded in IMAX]) . (6/21 - The Hulk) . (7/11 - Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) . (7/19 - James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss [IMAX 3-D]) .

New and Old on DVD and VHS! (6/13 - The Animatrix) . (6/14 - The Usual Suspects) . (7/5 - My Big Fat Greek Wedding) . (7/11 - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) .

We've Got Dates Now: The Matrix Revolutions . Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King .

An Important Note on The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers DVD Releases:

Just as with the first LOTR movie, LOTR:TT is going to come out in multiple editions.

Coming Soon... Nope, They're All Here Now!

Lara Croft 2 -- Seabiscuit -- Spy Kids 3D: Game Over --

And already open: Bruce Almighty... Finding Nemo... Terminator 3... The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen...

The Summer 2003 New Motion Picture Collection

X2: X-Men United

02 May 2003 Friday · 4:50pm · Studio 28 Theatre #3. OPENING DAY

Okay, it's official: The Summer of 2003 has Begun... and with a bang. I really enjoyed X-Men when it came out. The casting was excellent and the story ran all over the place, starting from Nazi concentration camps to plenty of backstory with Rogue and Wolverine. So according to Dr. Phil's Rule of Sequels, X2 should have a big minus to deal with because of the loss of innocence. But they make up with that by introducing some new mysteries.

This is NOT a movie to come into late carrying the popcorn. The opening scene in The White House is great and the "new guy" is terrific. Alan Cummings (Spy Kids) is very good at physical acting. As for the rest, poor Cyclops still gets short shrift here, but Wolverine is in fine form -- and we get some shadowy sense of Dr. Jane Grey's future transformation. (That's all I'll say.)

Now Dr. Phil has not spent his whole life reading all the X-Men and New Mutants comics, so I cannot comment on how legitimate and loyal the movie is from that standpoint. But what they have done vis-a-vis the first movie is solid and consistent and makes for a good story. Some people prefer X1 to X2 and some the other way, so I think the franchise is in good shape and I don't think that making an X3 with this cast would be a mistake. And Magneto continues to be an excellent foe for Professor Xavier, my man Patrick Stewart.

If I had to complain about something, how many times do we be need to be told "There's only ONE exit" to this place. Gee, do you think that this might be a major plot issue? Maybe we should say it again, in case we didn't telegraph what was going to happen. Geesh.... And this from the thinking man's comic book series...

A Mighty Wind

10 May 2003 Saturday · 2:10pm · Holland 7 Theatre #2

Why would you want to see a fake documentary about folk singers? Because it is hillarious. Need more of a reason? Well, the three guys in the one act are actually the SAME three guys who form the core of the hard rock band Spinal Tap. Really! (Now if you try to say that Spinal Tap has FOUR members, you're counting the drummer -- and as all true Spinal Tap fans know, you can't count on the drummer surviving the concert...) Anyway, Christopher Guest has made some delightfully quirky films the last few years, including Best in Show the other year, lampooning the people who compete in dog shows.

The Matrix Reloaded (R)

14 May 2003 Wednesday · 10:00pm · Studio 28 Theatre #1 OPENING NIGHT

What is The Matrix?

Was it a film to make black trenchcoats and shades look cool? Was it yet another attempt to see if Keanu Reaves can act? Was it just a triumph of special effects? Was it personally responsible for Columbine? -- I don't think so.

The Matrix was pretty groundbreaking as SF/Action movie --with the hard core faithful are more into the philosophy than the action, can it be true? Pretty amazing. Dr. Phil just rewatched the DVD of the first film and it is amazing how well these first two films hang together.

Think that this opening wasn't important? The studio moved a Friday opening to a Thursday opening -- and then at the last minute gave permission for theatres to sell tickets for 10pm Wedneday night and not just midnight... Studio 28 ran Wednesday night shows on three screens and filled the first two houses -- and the third one that was opened for advance ticket sales the last day almost sold out. Then they didn't even bother showing a movie before 10pm in Theatre #1, just opening the house so there would not be a line and put extra people in the concessions to make sure everyone would be in their seat for the start.

The two brothers who are the heart and soul of this project always intended this to be a trilogy -- or so we are told. There is no question that with the success of The Matrix, that they had the green light for two more, but in a fit of brilliance, they pulled a Peter Jackson. Much like Lord of the Rings, they chose to shoot The Matrix Reloaded (Matrix 2) and The Matrix Revolutions (Matrix 3) all at the same time, and then put just a six month shift in the release schedule, thus scoring a huge Summer Blockbuster and Christmas Blockbuster coup in the same calendar year.

Simply put The Matrix Reloaded is a class act. Beautifully filmed and acted. I've been a big fan of Lawrence Fishburne since he played a corrupt prison guard in an episode of Miami Vice years and years ago. And I like Keanu Reaves. Carrie-Anne Moss is not pretty, or at least they play up her angularity, but all three (Morpheus, Neo and Trinity) are simply perfect. They make black and shades look cool... Best new character: The Key Maker. (I heard one guy on TV calling him the Key Master -- he must have been thinking about Ghostbusters.) But I wouldn't really change a thing here -- even the one scene that goes on too long. I mean, it's not like we're talking about Ewoks here -- the long scene has a great driving beat to it and there are all these attractive human beings doing some sort of disco/Cirque du Soleil routine...

Unfortunately (and this is a minor carping), I am getting very tired of heavy duty rotation of TV commercials that show snippets of "all the best stuff" over and over again. We KNOW that a Matrix movie is going to have impressive visuals, don't SPOIL it -- PLEASE! That said, the full length scenes (the fight with Agent Smith... and Agent Smith... and Agent Smith..., the fight in the foyer of the mountain castle and The Car Chase to End All Car Chases) are each built to perfection, with a general ramp-up of intensity that is simply wonderful. And given the world of The Matrix, Dr. Phil doesn't have to go around complaining about what is and is not physically possible, because who cares in a Virtual World?

Why the R rating? That's been a big question. The opening weekend take broke the all-time record for dollar$ for an R-rated movie, but did not break the all-time box office start, because a lot of teens couldn't get in. Pity. Because there are only (in my opinion) three things that could be taken to make this an R-rated picture, and frankly, I don't think they amount to all that much. BUT... in the wake of Columbine, I think "they" wanted to ensure the R-rating, so that young impressionable minds would have to be accompanied by an adult -- or so the lawyers will argue. I personally think it's a shame, because there is so much philosophical discussion that has been generated by this franchise, that it's a good thing for kids to get exposed to this -- of course getting teens to go see this with their parents might do a little philosophical mind expansion of them, too, so maybe that's the point. Or not. Just how deep DOES the rabbit hole go? Hmmm?

By The Way: In case you haven't heard, do not leave when the credits start rolling. There's a Dr. Phil Special at the end of the credits. HA! Most of the audience at the FIRST SHOW left, but not Dr. Phil & Mrs. Dr. Phil -- we always stay for the credits. Feel a need for some SPOILER comments? Click here.

The Italian Job (PG-13)

30 May 2003 Friday · 7:40pm · Studio 28 Theatre #15.

Is nothing this summer original? Turns out that The Italian Job is a remake of a Michael Caine film, which I know I saw years ago on TV, but I don't remember anything about it, though I vaguely recall that a Mini-Cooper was involved in that movie, too. It doesn't matter. Some critics complain that the script is weak and that doesn't matter. This is one fun action movie -- where you are rooting for one gang of criminals to beat some other criminals.

The Matrix Reloaded - Special IMAX Edition (R)

07 June 2003 Saturday · 7:00pm · Celebration Cinema IMAX, East Beltline & Knapp Street, Grand Rapids. $12.00 IMAX Feature Adult Price, (plus $1.00 per ticket for Internet ordering).

Having now seen two feature movies in IMAX format, I have two mixed opinions about doing this. (1) I love the IMAX technology -- the clarity of the print/lens combination, the powerful sound system, the huge screen and the resulting nearly complete coverage of your peripheral vision with imagery, versus (2) The problem of keeping track of what it is you are looking at during fast pans in the motion. The latter problem is caused, I believe, by running too fast a shutter speed during real or virtual filming, so you can almost see the individual sharp frames while unable to process that much information so the resulting blur in your mind can be confusing.

Last year we were told that the IMAX film handling technology had a hard two-hour feature film limit. So last year's Star Wars Episode 2, Beauty & the Beast and Apollo 13 in IMAX formats all had to fit into two hours, no matter what. But the two brothers at the heart of The Matrix said that at 2 hours and 17 minutes, The Matrix Reloaded was cut as far as they were going to cut. So they made the IMAX technical people solve their problems -- and they did. This is essentially the same film, but reformatted on the larger film stock and advertised as "Four times larger, Ten times clearer and with 12,000 Watts of Audio Power." It's enough. I like to see movies on the big screen -- and seeing them on IMAX is very impressive.

No other trailers shown beyond that which is included in the actual movie.

NOTE: The Matrix Revolutions and The Matrix Revolutions in IMAX are now scheduled to open the same day in November 2003. Dr. Phil will likely do the premiere at Studio 28's Theatre #1 and THEN go see the IMAX version later. That way I can process the movie and figure out what's going on, and later enjoy the movie on the IMAX screen.

The Hulk (PG-13)

21 June 2003 Saturday · 3:30pm · Studio 28 Theatre #7. $5.50.

Good movie? Bad movie? OK movie?

There's been a certain amount of buzz circulating around, with some critics suggesting (without seeing the whole film first) that either (a) it's long and boring or (b) a thinking man's action film. Pirated early versions of the film -- often without the big green guy digitally inserted yet -- were complained about for looking less than spectacular. (Hint: Most movies stink before the editting and special effects get finished.)

Ang Lee’s take on the Marvel Comics big green guy is really interesting, but in the end, as one of the few people standing around after the credits said, "It was just all about rage." I think that hits it on top of the head. Why must all comic book movies be Origin stories? What we liked best about The Hulk was watching David Banner be this compassionate, caring guy, helping out the little guy, who finally gets pissed, releasing his Inner Hulk. Instead, we get an Origin story, one absentee father who has wierd ideas of bonding with his son, and another father who can't decide if he wants a relationship with his daughter. And these two kids aregoing to be healthy ballanced people?

Everyone is going to tee off on the digital Hulk and whether it looks realistic. For my money, it looks good enough -- there's actually more than one facial expression and the Hulk grows -- excuse the pun -- as a character during his appearances. On the big screen, the huge size and ever bigger moves actually seem to fit. One does have a moment of wondering if, given today's climate, it is politically correct to laugh at the Hulk taking out U.S. military tanks and helicopters -- but no one seems to get killed. the radio chatter keeps saying, "We're all right..." Yeah, sure. Hey, it's a comic book!

And it really is a comic book -- Ang Lee uses some very creative split screens, borders, pans and swishes to bring the comic book look to a big screen action film. Sometimes this is very effective. The opening, by the way, is pre-history of Banner's father's research, which is really interesting. Oh, and YES, all the animals were treated humanely in the movie, in case you were wondering.

Overall, it was a fun afternoon at the movies -- by far the worst aspect was the CROWD in the theatre, who spent more time getting up to go get refills on pop and popcorn, text messaging on their cell phones (for 20 minutes in the beginning of the film!) and TALKING. Good thing Mrs. Dr. Phil is out of town -- she'd have been livid at the rude audience. The "real" ending of the movie, is something of a treat, because that's where the flavor of the Hulk stories I remember finally shows through. If they should happen to make a sequel, they need to hold that ideal in mind.

Trailers: They showed bunches of trailers, but too many were forgettable. Yeah, T3 is coming -- don't show us the whole movie, please. And around Christmas, there's going to be a new live-action Peter Pan movie, which must be why the Kate Winslet / Johnny Depp movie Neverland, about how James Barre came to write Peter Pan, was moved from Christmas 2003 to Spring 2004.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (PG-13)

11 July 2003 Friday · 4:15pm · Studio 28 Theatre #11, $5.00 with discount card.

The Curse of Dr. Phil, also known as my July illness, is finally getting better and this is the first time I've been out for two weeks. Despite T3 already being open and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen opening today, what I really wanted to see was a pirate movie -- and boy was I not disappointed.

There hasn't been a good pirate movie in ages, and some of the comedic ventures in this genre haven't been very funny. And given the somewhat poor track record of "great" films based on comic books and especially video games (think Wing Commander, shudder), the mere thought of basing a movie on a Disneyland amusement park ride should give you the willies. But... there had to be something going on, because they managed to sign up a great cast. I mean Geoffrey Rush and Johnny Depp are REAL actors (they've both acted with Kate Winslet), and Orlando Bloom has been terrific in Lord of the Rings.

This could have gone so wrong and just been another big special effects battle. But a funny thing happened on the way to some outstanding special effects involving "living" skeletons -- they managed to put some real writing in this, which gives their real actors something to do.

Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow is played so over the top, that his ego perfectly matches my expectation of what I want in a pirate captain, only to be doubly pleased wtih Geoffrey Rush's Captain Barbarosa, complete with a monkey on his shoulder. What makes this so much fun is the bargaining and deal making between the pirates -- double-crossing and triple-crossing is for amateurs, REAL skullduggery requires a professional -- to the point that I wouldn't know how to begin to diagram all the convoluted deals of what's promised to whom. On top of that, there's dialogue with serious vocabulary in action here. Not too many action movies have dialogue you can really sink your teeth into.

It doesn't give too much away to suggest that Captain Jack Sparrow's escapes from certain death border on the spectacular. And there are several running gags/lines throughout, most of which are funny. All these coupled together in this twisting plot adds to the "Who's on First?" quality that makes you almost need to keep a scorecard in order to figure out who's "winning."

All in all, we enjoyed this film a whole lot and I expect this to top several of the big summer blockbuster releases at the box office. Johnny Depp is still wearing the gold crowns on his teeth, in anticipation of making a sequel. If they can keep up the clever writing, I say go for it, matey. Ar-rrr!

Trailers: Pirates being a Disney release, we had to see several Disney trailers. They are remaking a number of their films, and the latest is Freaky Friday -- this time it is Jamie Lee Curtis as the mom who swaps bodies with her daughter. Oh sure, we needed this. The third (and apparently final) Spy Kids movie is due to come out later this month, and it will be done in 3-D. The first two movies in this franchise were delightfully unexpected treats. The unrentling advertising barrage for Seabiscuit continues. There have been so many different trailers and TV ads, that again I am getting depressed that they are trying to show the whole movie in order to get people to come. The Haunted House is another Disney feature with Eddie Murphy -- why is this movie opening at Thanksgiving? Don't you think that maybe HALLOWEEN would be more appropriate? Another November release is a movie starring Viggo Mortinsen (Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings) as a cowboy who gets involved in an Arabian cross-country desert horse race.

By The Way: There's a Dr. Phil Special at the end of the credits to Pirates. Thank you!

James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss - IMAX 3-D (G)

19 July 2003 Saturday · 1:20pm · Celebration Cinema IMAX, East Beltline & Knapp Street, Grand Rapids. $9.00 IMAX Adult Price.

Anyone familiar with Dr. Phil is probably also familiar with James Cameron's most famous and successful film: Titanic. Cameron is well noted for his special effects, but with Titanic he pulled off two of the grandest illusions without "special effects". One, of course, was the nearly full-size replica of the exterior of the grand ship, which added to the believability that the action took place on a ship. The other was that the modern-day "wrapper" story involving the Russian deep-sea research ship Keldyish and its amazing pair of submersibles: Mir-1 and Mir-2. James Cameron began research for his movie by hiring the Russians to take him to the wreck site and filming it with a motion picture grade camera built by his brother Michael Cameron, a mechanical engineer. Some of the opening scenes of the RMS Titanic on the bottom of the North Atlantic were real shots of the wreck. Later, Cameron cast two friends, Bill Paxton and Lewis Abernathy, as modern day treasure hunters looking for riches in the Titanic wreck, and they again hired the Keldyish to play itself.

Okay, so Titanic has been very good to James Cameron -- so what's the deal here? Well, Cameron is sort of a compulsive figure -- ever since he's been down there, he wanted to go back and "do it right". Not the theatrical movie, the filming of the wreck in its element. For the Keldyish and its Russian research institute, Titanic has been a boon, too, letting the world know of the capabilities of their marvelous subs. They even took "tourists" down to the wreck site for something like $20,000 a pop, much as the cash starved Russian space program has taken civilians up into space. Much like National Geographic or Jacques Cousteau, I think everyone understood that to mount a serious research expedition to RMS Titanic, it would certainly help to include a film crew and publicize the endeavor. Indeed, with nearly $2 billion in ticket sales worldwide, plus all the VHS and DVD sales and rentals, there is certainly a built-in audience interested in all things Titanic.

There was, a few years ago I think, an IMAX film about Titanic. So I believe that someone has hauled an IMAX camera down 2½ miles. This time, though, they are taking 3-D IMAX cameras. I have previously seen one IMAX 3-D film, Space Station 3-D, which can still be seen at the Grand Rapids IMAX theatre, and can say that it is a remarkable process. So, now we have the backstory to Ghosts of the Abyss. What about the film itself?

It doesn't matter whether you've seen the 1997 film Titanic or not -- Ghosts of the Abyss is one very impressive film. We start with some photographs of the real RMS Titanic underconstruction and underway, in order to gauge its size. The "Ghosts" of the title are provided by actors, sets and computer graphics that show the ship as it was -- these are sometimes superimposed "ghostly" over the images of the wreck in order to provide orientation as to what you are seeing. We are introduced to the Keldyish, billed as the largest ocean research vessel in the world, and a handful of scientists and historians who will be making the voyage to the wreck site.

Now James Cameron could have made this film about himself, but very sensibly chose to invite his two friends Bill Paxton and Lewis Abernathy to join the crew making the descents. It is primarily Paxton who narrates the film, and you get a clear view of how different it is to be an actor playing a dangerous role on a set, and being an actor thrown into a real (and really dangerous) situation. Abernathy, whom I believe Cameron knew when they were younger, has gotten into marine biology. His role in Titanic was something to add a little color. Watching these two men deal with going down in the Mir submersibles the first time makes you wonder how well you would do in a similar situation. The extreme wide-angle 3-D images from inside the Mirs don't completely let you know just how cramped they are inside. Claustrophobia coupled with knowing that there are tons of water pressing on the hull, that you are carrying all the oxygen you need to live in a little tank. The ride inside is smooth enough, except for when the sub meets the surface at the beginning and end of the trip. I seem to recall reading that it takes hours for the Mirs to travel the vertical distance and there's no way to hurry the process.

The Mir submersibles are not the only technological stars. A second ship, the Eas, carries what they call a chandelier, a large submersible lighting platform that they used to add lighting to the wreck. (It is much like the difference between an ordinary snapshot taken with a simple camera and flash, and a studio portrait which uses diffuse lighting from multiple sources.) And the two new ROV's (Remotely Operated Vehicles) can go into amazing places -- and go so far that they can get themselves into trouble!

This isn't your usual kind of National Geographic / Jacques Cousteau kind of documentary. It is major spectacular, sometimes in a quiet way and sometimes in a painfully dramatic way.

If you have any interest in deep sea diving or the great story of the doomed RMS Titanic, you need to see this movie in IMAX 3-D.

DVD and VHS Video Notes:


The Animatrix (DVD - Unrated)

13 June 2003 Friday

These are nine anime-style short films that are supposed to provide some backstory to The Matrix series. Finally got a chance to see it. The first short, "The Final Flight of the Osiris" was put together by the same people who did Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within -- in fact it uses some of the same bodies

A hint for viewers. On the main Play menu, you probably want to select the small Show All button on the lower right. If you play them one at a time, you get one short, but the WHOLE set of credits for all nine. 89 minutes.

The Usual Suspects (VHS - Rated R)

14 June 2003 Saturday

What a wonderful movie - what a wonderful experience. A good friend of mine missed this when it came out in theatres, so I told him he had to see it when the video came out -- and that the first thing he would do when it was over would be to hit the Rewind button -- and that when he had seen it for the second time, he would come to understand what he had just done -- and he would smile.

If you love characters, plot, caper movies, mysteries, tight writing, brilliant casting and performances up the wazoo -- this is your movie. The real payoff is that this movie will make you question everything. They say that eyewitnesses make for the most unrealiable evidence, closely followed by the testimony of a criminal liar. The only thing you know for certain, is that men are dead and a ship is burnt. After that, you are on your own, so watch closely and listen carefully.

Benicio del Toro gives a huge performance as do the rest of the perpetrators, but this is Kevin Spacey's movie. The Usual Suspects came out the same summer as Seven, in which Kevin Spacey also gave a outstanding performance (and uncredited so as to not draw attention to himself), but Verbal Kint may be the definitive Kevin Spacey character.

If you know nothing of this movie, go and rent it or buy it -- and give yourself time to watch it twice. You'll be glad you did. 113 minutes.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding (VHS - Rated PG?)

5 July 2003 Saturday

The in-laws came in for the Fourth of July, and while I was ill, they came before my adverse reaction to the first antibiotic manifested itself and so it wasn't the worst of times. Since I was in no shape to go out, Mrs. Dr. Phil rented this movie, which our guests hadn't seen, and I have to say was an excellent choice. No one fell asleep and I was able to enjoy a second viewing of Nia Vardolis' (spelling?) masterpiece.

I am not huge on comedies, but this strikes a perfect note. While it is about a rabidly Greek family, it is completely identifiable with any ethnic group: Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Lithuanian, etc., and that is clearly the charm that kept this low budget movie on the big screen for some six months. It was never number one at the box office, but it stayed in the Top Ten for many of those months, and the ratio of box office take to cost has made it one of the most successful movies of all time. And Hollywood didn't think that anyone would get the Greek thing...

The cast is superb and never strikes a false note. Michael Constantine, whom I first saw as the Principal in Room 222, plays the distraught father to a hilt. They tried to make this into a CBS half-hour comedy but they couldn't get John Corbett, the groom, and without him, they seemed to have only the caricature and not the heart of the movie. We watched a couple of painful episodes and then dropped it faster than CBS did. Some things should be left alone -- not every movie should be made into a sequel or a TV series.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (DVD - Rated PG)

11 July 2003 Friday

When I pre-ordered Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter 5) from Amazon.com, I added in an order for the DVD for Harry Potter 2. When the long-awaited book arrived, I handed it to Mrs. Dr. Phil and told her she had ten days to read it before my Summer I grades were due. Alas, while she held up her end of the bargain and read it in plenty of time, since I got ill I wasn't reading anything for at least a week. (Mrs. Dr. Phil says that's how she knew I was really sick, that there was a new Harry Potter book in the house and I wasn't picking it up!) Anyway, I finally devoured Harry Potter 5, and given that it is July and there is little on television, it was a no-brainer to break the seal on the Harry Potter 2 DVD and play it.

The heart of the books is clearly in the movies. We'll miss the old Dumbledore in the Harry Potter 3 movie, but so far the casting has been brilliant. How can you wrong with a wizard's duel between Kenneth Branaugh and Alan Rickman? The kids they got playing Harry, Ron and Hermione are just right, as are all the others: Dudley, Draco Malfoy (hiss...), Neville, etc. And Draco's dad, Lucious Malfoy, was played with great panache -- his flashes of anger showed his true evil intent, yet he would oily say the "appropriate" thing in public even though you knew he didn't believe it. Made young Draco look even more smarmy. (And he gets to be a prefect in Harry Potter 5? Shudder...)

I would say that I enjoyed this movie almost as much as a DVD as I did back in November 2002 in the theatre. It's not perfect and the magical car is a little too slapstick for me, but they handled Moaning Myrtle quite well, to say nothing of all those spiders. I guess you could say that they've made Hogwarts a comfortable place, and one not all that far from the way I envisioned it in my mind's eye, which is the best you can say about a movie adaptation of a beloved series of books -- similar to the kudos to the more serious Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Given that this movie is already at 161 minutes (2 hours 41 minutes) and doesn't include everything in Harry Potter 2 The Book, one wonders how long this franchise can continue. Will they film every one of the Harry Potter books? Or will they peter out at some point? We will see Harry Potter 3 on the big screen, but after that... And perhaps that works out well, too. J.K. Rowling is letting her characters grow up and the stories are getting darker. I am sure that there are kids reading Harry Potter 5 who might be a little young for that story -- imagine the pressure to see movies out of age grouping.

There's a whole second disk of extras, including something like 19 deleted scenes -- we'll mention what's in them when I get around to playing that disk.

The Future...

The Matrix Revolutions / The Matrix Revolutions in IMAX

Wednesday 5 November 2003

The return of Keanu Reeves and Lawrence Fishbourne has been anticipated for a LONG time. Working on back-to-back sequels, I think that they're trying to do this right, much like Peter Jackson's decision to do all three parts of Lord of the Rings at once. Because Matrix 2 and Matrix 3 are not just sequels, they're just two-parts in what would be a much-too-long epic. The Matrix stirred something in the moviegoing public -- and despite the controversy regarding outside situations such as Columbine -- there were many people whom Dr. Phil would not have thought would have wanted to see a movie that was "just" a Duke Nuke 'Em shoot-em-up fest were very well disposed towards The Matrix.

Unfortunately, having achieved State of the Art breakthrough once -- and immitated in five billion movies since -- the pressure is on to be equally Cool, Monochromatic and Chillingly State of the Art, again! They did it in The Matrix Reloaded -- can they finish the deal with Matrix 3?

Early looks at trailers suggest that maybe, just maybe, they're on their way to achieving some of this. In anticipation, they just moved the start of The Matrix Revolutions from December 2003 to November 2003 -- and will be opening the IMAX version the same day at the regular version. (Though Dr. Phil will go see the film in regular style first, in order to be able to take it all in at once, and then go see the IMAX version. See Dr. Phil's comments on previous IMAX feature films: Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones and The Matrix Reloaded.

Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Wednesday 17 December 2003

It all comes down to this. Part I was superb. Part II looked good. Part III holds all the promise. If Peter Jackson can pull this off, we will have seen a major achievement in modern film making and in adapations of classic books and the gold standard in fantasy films.

A few years ago, before The Special Editions came out and long before Episodes 1 and 2, George Lucas made the "first" three Star Wars movies available to theatres if they wanted to do it as a charity fundraiser. So Mrs. Dr. Phil and I bought the 3-movie pass at Studio 28 and one summer's day, we spent from 10am to 5pm in a center seat about one-third of the way back from the front in the giant Theatre 1 and watched Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi back-to-back-to-back. I am already hoping for the day when I can return to Theatre 1 at Studio 28 and see all of The Lord of the Rings in one sitting.

It takes a special set of movies to inspire that kind of devotion.

Harry Potter 3

was scheduled for Christmas 2003, but looks more like May 2004 now, so it won't go up against the climas of LOTR.

More Bummer News...

Both of Kate Winslet's next movies, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (with Jim Carrey and "Frodo" from LOTR) and Neverland (with Johnny Depp, about the real story of how Peter Pan was written), which should have opened in late 2003 and now being delayed up to a year.

But 2003 already looks like a good year at the movies...

Last Update: 06 August 2003 Wed