Archive for the ‘ Documentary ’ Category

The Instant Critic bids farewell

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, Johnny Depp led us into the world of Rango.

This week, I’ve decided to offer up two “mini-reviews” to keep your cinematic thirst quenched over the dog days of exam week.

WAITING FOR “SUPERMAN” (PG, 111 minutes)

A stirring documentary about the current state of public education, “Waiting for Superman” brings up many hard-hitting questions concerning its subject. By interviewing experts in the field, the film captivates with its call for change. I wholeheartedly recommend giving this film a try.

MEET THE PARENTS (PG-13, 107 minutes – featuring Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Teri Polo and Bltyhe Danner)

Easily one of my favorite comedies, Meet the Parents paints a vivid picture in the relationship of a kindly male nurse (Stiller) and his girlfriend’s prickly father (DeNiro). The film features some classic laughs that will leave you howling. Stiller and DeNiro joyously collide for a dynamic pairing. This is a film not to be missed.

What say you? Do you plan to spend your down time during exam week catching up on a few movies?

I must say that offering up reviews these past 10 weeks has been a true pleasure! I hope that over these past few weeks, you have found a film or two to enjoy and possibly return to in the future.

After all, who doesn’t love a good movie?

If you don’t mind, I’d love to know the best movie that you might have watched recommended in a previous post!

I hope everyone has a legendary summer at the movies. It’s going to be a good one.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies always wonderful.

The Instant Critic


The Instant Critic travels to Dirt

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, the poorly done Limitless caught our attention.

This week, we head into the world of computer animation to take a look at a Johnny Depp-led feature!

RANGO (PG, 107 minutes – features the voices of Johnny Depp, Isla Fischer, Ned Beatty and Bill Nighy)

After years at sea with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, director Gore Verbinski successfully ventured into the world of computer animation with the brilliantly madcap Rango.

The story is as ingenious as they come. After being stranded in the desert, Rango the lizard (Depp) comes across the town of Dirt, a miniature Dodge City filled to the brim with stock Western characters. After the town’s water supply goes missing, Rango falsely dons the persona of a gung-ho sheriff and leads the townsfolk on a quest to find the culprit.

The vibrant animation pops out of the screen, as do the zany cast of critters. The screenplay thrives on originality, offering a wondrous alternative the typical theatrical fare.

Depp’s voice work on the character shines, though. He and Verbinski are always such an effective duo.

The film qualifies as a rarity – a zany, sharp excursion into sheer creativity. This film deserves your immediate attention.

If you are feeling like the silver screen would be more satisfying than the one on your computer this weekend, I wholeheartedly recommend The Hunger Games. I’m sure I don’t have to do too much persuading on that front.

The film Undefeated, a documentary filmed in Tennessee, focuses on a Memphis high school football team looking to win its first playoff game. The film compels and moves in a way that stands unique. If you are through with the Districts for now, I hope you give this powerful documentary a try. The film is currently showing at the Green Hills 16.

What say you? Do you prefer watching a movie in the theater compared to your computer? Let us know in the comment section.

Next week, we will wrap things up with the final post of the semester.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movie wonderful.

The Instant Critic

The Instant Critic plays golf in Orlando

Greetings, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, we took a break from movies to remember the High Rise flood.

This week, we are hitting the green and heading to Disney World.

SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA (G, 98 minutes – featuring Robert Duvall, Lucas Black, Deborah Ann Woll and Melissa Leo)

I usually cringe at the thought of a faith-based movie. Since faith-house cinema almost limits itself to “gems” such as Facing the Giants and Fireproof, the average Christian film buff finds the situation dire when looking for a movie with a deeper meaning.

Thankfully, Seven Days in Utopia rises above the usual faith-based fare to offer viewers an uplifting tale of finding yourself in the most unlikely of places.

The story centers on Luke, a disgraced golfer who stumbles upon a small Texas town after a minor car crash. While there, he meets a former golfer (Duvall) who helps to give Luke the training he needs to continue in his career.

Going in, I had no idea that the film held a Christian base, but I was surprised and pleased that I enjoyed the film at the level I did. Sure, a few moments of genuine corniness are in store, but the earnest approach made those moments strangely tolerable. As a Christian, I’m glad to see a good movie from our side every now and then.

On the acting side, Duvall can never be bad in a movie, and up-and-comer Lucas Black manages to hold his own with the screen vet for the second time.

If you are looking for a film that you can safely watch with the folks over Spring Break, Seven Days in Utopia easily takes the cake.

This film and the upcoming Blue Like Jazz (a film I thoroughly enjoyed) give faith-house cinema a bright future.


As a longtime advocate of Disney World, I found this short television special to be a must for those considering a trip down to the house of the mouse anytime soon.

While I’ve never been to the West Coast, I can say that I have been to Orlando fourteen times (the next trip steadily approaches).

Even I learned a thing or two watching this informative special.

Disney Parks: Undiscovered Disney Parks gives you exactly what it promises. Viewers are taken backstage to see some of Disney’s best-kept secrets, whether it is a private restaurant or an inside look at the mechanics of a certain electrifying parade.

Sadly, some of the information in this special will be old news for longtime park-goers, but for those new to the Disney experience, the short episode offers a great deal of intriguing information about the theme park and its surrounding resorts.

If you are headed to any of the major Disney parks in the foreseeable future, I recommend you give this television special a try. It may not be a movie, but it’s easily worth your time.

What say you? What’s your take on the current climate of faith-based cinema? Are you more of a Universal Studios type of person? Let me know in the comments section.

You know the drill. Recommendations are more than welcome and can be placed in the comments section as well.

Next week, the Instant Critic and his fantastic readers will be receiving a well-deserved week of rest.

Until then, may your sunscreen be effective and your break wonderful.

The Instant Critic

The Instant Critic goes swimming with Elmo: Reviews of Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey and Oceans

Welcome back, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, a sleek adventure and a masterful documentary caught our attention.

This week, I have decided to take a look at another two documentaries currently featured on Netflix Instant.

BEING ELMO: A PUPPETEER’S JOURNEY (PG, 76 minutes – featuring Kevin Clash and narration by Whoopi Goldberg)

Who says that nice guys finish last?

This heartwarming documentary tells the story of Kevin Clash, the kindly, humble voice behind one of pop culture’s biggest icons.

Even as a young boy, Clash always had a dream. Educated to adore everything about puppeteering, the future star would create puppets out of simple supplies as a child. This love carried Clash far beyond anything he could ever imagine.

Interestingly enough, his rise to fame did not come through anything but pure service. Clash was discovered through his work with a children’s hospital.

If anything, Clash’s discovery sums up the documentary.

Kevin Clash deserves every accolade he has received. He deserves the doors that were opened for him. He deserves any sort of fandom or recognition.

Clash uses his gifts to help other people. Even with his worldwide fame through Elmo, Clash still makes time to meet with children and families in need – just like his days working at the children’s hospital.

The film itself takes viewers on quite a journey. Clash’s story inspired me in a way that I had not been in a good while. Seeing someone so genuine achieve their dreams through positive focus and goodwill is nothing short of captivating.

I wholeheartedly recommend giving this fantastic, fascinating documentary a try. The film is true inspiration in its purest form.

OCEANS (G, 84 minutes – featuring narration by Pierce Brosnan)

Rather bluntly, Oceans gives its primary focus away in the title.

The second film released in the cannon of the Disneynature series, Oceans offers an intriguing look into life below the surface.

Led by the soothing narration of James Bond himself, the documentary features stunning scenes of marine life. A few moments will leave your jaw firmly placed upon the floor.

Not every second can be called pure gold, but when the documentary hits its stride, you will be mesmerized by the spectacle.

A few moments in the film almost seem staged – a true testament to the quality of the footage.

One scene, a battle between two groups of crabs, really stands out.

At the end of the day, the documentary is a pleasant voyage into the depths of our planet’s oceans.

What say you? Have you seen either of these documentaries? Do you like movies focused on nature?

As always, the lines are open for a few requests. Let me know if there is a film you would like to see covered with next week’s post.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic

The Instant Critic steps into the Grid: Reviews of Tron: Legacy and The Pixar Story

Welcome back, fellow film enthusiasts!

In case you missed last week, I offered my two cents on two movies featuring horses.

By popular demand, this week’s post will take a look at a stellar adventure and an intriguing documentary!

TRON: LEGACY (PG, 125 minutes – featuring Jeff Bridges, Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde)

A sequel to the 1982 gem, Tron: Legacy excels as being a visual treat as well as a moving narrative.

The story takes place inside the Grid, a fictionalized computer world where Kevin Flynn (Bridges) has been trapped since the early 80s. His son, Sam (Hedlund), stumbles upon a portal that takes him into the Grid, igniting a series of events that will reunite father and son just in time for a battle of epic proportions.

Those looking for rip-roaring action have found their match. The film’s strongest moments come from the eye-popping visual effects. A certain light-cycle battle in an arena of thousands will leave you breathless.

The score, orchestrated by the techno duo Daft Punk, brings an added fury to the film.

Bridges channels his inner mellowness for Kevin Flynn, and Hedlund provides a strong, anchoring performance as Sam.

Tron: Legacy makes for a wonderful sequel, but the film also works extremely well as a standalone feature.

Now, let’s go from the Grid to Emeryville.

THE PIXAR STORY (G, 88 minutes – featuring interviews with John Lasseter, Steve Jobs, Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and George Lucas)

There is not a film studio that comes close to rivaling Pixar.

Any film that bears the Pixar logo enchants our imaginations in ways that most studio fare cannot.  Over the years, audiences have been spoiled by the astronomical levels of quality a Pixar title brings to the table. Toy Story, The Incredibles, Ratatouille and Monsters Inc. are just a few of the classics the studio has produced.

Care to see how this humble studio came to be?

A good documentary always tells a story that can rival the fictitious creation of a Hollywood screenwriter. A great documentary almost seems fictitious itself. I am happy to say that The Pixar Story falls into the latter category. This fascinating documentary gives viewers an engaging look into the storied past of the famous studio.

I do not want to spoil the surprises the documentary has to offer, but did you know the late Steve Jobs had an impact on the studio’s beginnings?

The Pixar Story is a success because the viewer will truly feel as if they have been granted an exclusive backstage pass into the world of Pixar.

What’s your take? Do you agree with my praise for Tron: Legacy?

How about The Pixar Story? Let me know in the comments section.

Next week, I’ll be taking a look at a pair of Oscar-nominated documentaries.

Until then, may your popcorn be fresh and your movies wonderful.

The Instant Critic