The Cell

An unusual movie to say the least, The Cell follows a psychiatrist and an FBI agent as they attempt to use a new technology to literally get inside the head of a serial killer.  The acting is very good, but the real star of the show is the amazing visuals.  The visuals are astounding, full of shocking and intriguing sights and metaphors.  Most of it is mental and not in the real world, and it’s all very bizarre.  It’s a fascinating look inside psychology that’s probably not particularly realistic but terribly engrossing.  It falls prey to that common movie fallacy in which the untrained, inexperienced noob winds up saving the professional.  But it’s still an attention-holding dream.  Or nightmare, to be more accurate.  More full of horror than anything else, this movie is not for everyone.  It is fascinating, horrifying, intense, and perhaps a bit too scary and disturbing for more sensitive viewers.  There is a sort of bittersweet, happy ending, but it will still leave you with a strange sense of unease.


Cat’s Eye

This film is based on a few Stephen King short stories and has the same underlying level of horror that most of his stuff does.  There isn’t a lot of supernatural elements, though, as most of the worst acts are committed by humans in these tales.  The overarching plot that links the mini-stories, albeit just barely, has a cat on a quest of some sort.  The point isn’t made clear until the end of the movie.  The acting is very good, and the individual stories tend to be very tense and frustrating, although the final portion of the movie somewhat less so.  Overall, it’s very well-done.  There’s a sort of happy ending at the very end for at least some of the characters, but most of them just continue to live the horror.  There are some references to other King stories, which will amuse his fans.  Even non-fans will enjoy this movie, though, providing they like thrillers or horror movies.

Cats Don’t Dance

This animated film is cute, fun, and toe-tapping.  It tells the tale of a group of animals trying to make it in old Hollywood, despite being blocked by a sort of bias against animals and an egomaniacal little girl.  The songs are fun and catchy, and the voice cast is outstanding.  The animation itself is well-done, and there are plenty of in-jokes in the backgrounds and dialogue.  There’s humor and action and a little bit of inspirational moralizing.  It’s an upbeat, slightly silly sort of story that can be enjoyed by most audiences.  It’s not profound, and it won’t expand your mind, but it’s a lot of light-hearted fun that takes a lot of jabs at Hollywood itself.


This Broadway musical is one of the longest running in history.  In 2001, it was filmed and put on DVD.  The cinematography is engaging, and the music is enchanting.  Andrew Lloyd Webber is a master at putting a plot to song.  The plot in this case is somewhat flimsy, but the songs more than make up for that.  The choreography and singing on the part of the players are amazing.  They’re very cat-like, at least as far as anthropomorphic creatures can go, helped by the incredible makeup and costumes.  There isn’t a line of dialogue in the show; everything is sung, and that works out well for the story and the characters.  The whole thing is based on a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot, and it shows.  It’s very poetic and metaphorical.  If you get bored with singing and dancing, though, this will not amuse you.  The athleticism and agility on display are impressive, but there are long moments of plotless performing.  The music will draw anyone else in, however, even if they’re a little unclear on the story.  It plays out like a children’s story but is impressive enough for the adults in the audience.  The few effects that were added to the DVD release are nice but unnecessary.  If you’re a Broadway buff, this would be an important addition to your collection.

Neverending Story

If you’ve seen the movie that was based on this book and/or its sequels, you’ll be familiar with some of the plot points and story elements, but that’s it.  The tone, characters, and general direction of the book are completely different.  For starters, the main character, the boy from the real world, is portrayed as whiny and pathetic.  His main problems, according to the story, are a lack of motivation and being overweight.  The whole plot is set up as his personal journey toward self-discovery and change.  He deals with problems within the fantasy world along the way, but the moral seems to be “don’t be such a douchebag, and you won’t be overweight anymore.”  His mental changes are supplemented by physical changes over the course of his journey in a way that is implied to be permanent, despite the fact that his weight loss was magically induced.  In the movie, his connection to the fantasy world is touching, and his rescue of it feels epic.  But in the book, there is always a fairy tale-style distance, and nothing is more important than his inner and outer changes.  The main catalyst for these changes, however, seems to be letting go of his past self, completely and utterly, through total memory loss.  Not necessarily the best way to go about personal change.  There’s still the requisite happy ending of sorts, but there’s a complete lack of whimsy and wonder of the sort that made the movie so enchanting.  It’s an interesting read, but don’t expect the same trip.

Based on a book, the original Neverending Story is full of whimsy and wonder.  There’s little explanation for the magical and mystical things and creatures that exist in its world, but that doesn’t feel like a problem in this case.  The story follows a boy in the real world who discovers a world within a book.  As he reads, it becomes clear that everything in the book is actually happening, and it all becomes very important to him.  Much of the plot focuses on a young hero within the book who is on a quest to save his world.  Eventually, the boy in our world helps save the realm of fiction from destruction, and all is restored.  The only part of the ending that feels off is a clip that shows one of the magical creatures from the book world coming into the real world.  It gives the question of whether or not it’s all real a little too concrete of an answer for a fantasy like this.  But that’s forgivable, and everything else is enchanting.  The acting is good, the practical effects are a bit cheesy by modern standards but still good, and the music is engrossing and fun.  There’s little in this movie that resembles the original story from the book, but that works out well enough.

The first sequel has more elements that match up with plot points from the book and a completely different cast from the first movie.  The overall tone is different, too.  There isn’t as much whimsy, and there’s an extension of the scene from the end of the first one that mixes the two worlds; in this case, our real world hero falls into the fiction world.  There, he has to deal with his own inner demons as well as a witch of sorts.  Once again, there’s a happy ending, and everything is fixed in the world of fantasy.  The acting is a little more cheesy this time, except for the main character, and the music is more forgettable, but the effects are just as good.  As far as story goes, it could almost be considered a completely separate franchise from the original.

And then we have the third movie in the series.  Once more, there’s a completely different cast, and the acting is even worse.  The effects are fine, but the overall tone of the movie is cheesier and more kids-show-like than ever.  The plot has nothing to do with the original book or the first two movies, except that we’re supposed to believe the boy is the same character.  The fantasy world feels very restricted this time, as opposed to the sprawling, epic landscape of the first two movies.  Most of the characters don’t act like themselves, and the story focuses mainly on keeping the real world and the book world separate, a feat that’s nearly impossible now that the magic book seems capable of changing things in the real world too.  This is an utterly new element that seems to exist solely to keep the plot going.  It certainly needs all the help it can get.  This movie is skippable.  It’s might entertain the youngest of viewers, but only if they don’t care about the story.

Felix the Cat

The oldest Felix the Cat cartoons were silly and gentle, suitable for any audience.  There were mildly amusing jokes, good animation, and some adequate music.  Felix himself was sweet and fun-loving.  I’d recommend these rare shorts to just about anyone, whether they liked old cartoons or not.  There was also a television show based on the character in the ’50s and ’60s.  But this time, Felix was more of a comic foil for his nemesis.  The plots were typical and unimaginative, made more so by the presence of a magic bag that held anything Felix needed to get out of any situation.  The animation was sparse and cheap, and the voice acting was the same.  The whole show didn’t really live up to the greatness of its namesake.