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Movies – July 2005

July, 2005
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From the crew that gave audiences Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, Shark Tale and Antz, now comes an awakening of sorts for those who love zoos and animal watching. Playing four spoiled and pampered denizens of a Central Park zoological viewing facility, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Ben Stiller and Jada Pinkett-Smith voice the transition from captivity to natural surroundings quite well. As the animals traverse oceans and hazards, we see them journeying towards the isle of Madagascar, where they believe their missing companion has gone. Probably the biggest animated motion picture of the summer, Madagascar sheds light on the often-atrophied lifestyle animals face while enclosed, and can thus help kids develop a more sober approach to trips to the zoo. Although the movie is full of laughs, it does offer kids something to bear in mind when they next clamour to feed the caged creatures.

Studio: Dreamworks
Director: Eric Darnell, Tom McGrath
Starring: Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett-Smith
Rating: PG


Herbie: Fully Reloaded

In the world of possessed cars, Herbie the VW Beetle was always a parent’s ally, contrasting the likes of cool but evil Christine. As number 53, Herbie was a Disney icon throughout the chilly cold war era, spanning adventures in Europe, Monte Carlo and Mexico, where this writer last spotted the adorable Love Bug in Herbie Goes Bananas. 

In a summer not so much dedicated to animation, Disney has decided to bring back the classic ride, although for this outing Dean Jones and his trademark character Jim Douglas were replaced by teen flame Lindsay Lohan (Parent Trap, Freaky Friday), who’s becoming Hollywood’s latest ‘it girl.’ She plays Maggie Peyton, a plucky racer supported by her father (Michael Keaton) in a bid to make Herbie a NASCAR contender. Matt Dillon supplies the villain role, and cameos from real NASCAR drivers are sure to tickle real racing fans. 

A nostalgic blast for parents and something different for the current generation, Herbie crosses the finish line as strong as ever.

Studio: Buena Vista/Disney
Director: Angela Robinson
Starring: Lindsay Lohan, Michael Keaton, Matt Dillon, Justin Long
Rating: G


Fantastic Four

Ah yes, a Marvel Comic to brighten up those heady, smelling-of-cut-grass, 39C summer days. And who better for such lofty objectives than a few of Marvel’s greatest heroes? Often associated with Spiderman and other magnets of super-humanity, the Fantastic Four comprise unforgettable The Thing (Michael Chiklis, whom you likely know from TV’s The Shield), Human Torch (Chris Evans), leader Mr. Fantastic (Ioan Gruffudd) and the Invisible Woman, played by very visible Jessica Alba (recently spotted in the kid-unfriendly Sin City). The assembled champions once again enter the fray against demented Dr. Doom, one of Spiderman’s epitomic archenemies, in a franchise largely left alone since the late 1960s. The new rendition has a good mix of action and effects, while catering to more grown up audiences with what our benefactors (aka censors) at the MPAA so eloquently refer to as "suggestive themes" and "intense action." 

Since the Fantastic Four will most assuredly find their way to mainland DVD players, we suggest this theme: take your teen crowd and indulge in some intense summer action.

Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Tim Story
Starring: Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, Chris Evans, Ioan Gruffudd
Rating: PG-13


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The mischievous chocolatier comes to life again this summer ensuring a sweet summer treat. The titular young boy, Charlie Bucket (Freddie Highmore), by way of being a good consumer and eating lots of candy, wins a prize ticket granting him the sweet tooth’s ultimate wish: visiting a huge, over the top chocolate factory, owned by the mythological Wonka and operated by the strange Oompa Loompas.  Accompanying him are three other young menaces, and it’s easy to predict the mischief such a predicament invariably brings. Granted, a classic but simple story, yet with the curious Tim Burton helming, this remake of the 1971 film, the new verisioin will probably yield gratifying results for young viewers, mixed with a sardonic, tongue-in-cheek bent adults will appreciate too.

Studio: Warner Bros
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham-Carter, Eileen Essel 
Rating: PG

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