Is Merida the Bravest of them all?

Last weekend I took my kids to see the latest Pixar movie. Or perhaps I should say Disney-Pixar, because this movie more than any of their others has a genuine Disney feel to it. Don’t get me wrong Brave was a good movie, thoroughly enjoyable for myself, my husband and of course, most importantly, my 3 yr old son and 5 yr old daughter, but it definately lacked something that the other Pixar movies seem to have.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Brave is about the young Scottish princess Merida. She is wild, headstrong and totally awesome, plus she has a flowing mane of orange hair that is so incredible in texture and colour that it is the most impressive thing in the film. As far as princesses go she is up there with the best of them, only Rapunzel would have a chance against her and even then only if she could get Merida’s bow off her. But Merida is about to be betrothed and that doesn’t appeal to her, not only because the three first-borns being offered up by their clans are three of the most un-sexy individuals ever put on film but simply because she isn’t the type to be told who she is going to love.

This movie covers new ground, for once the princess is not enraptured in the closest male, in fact, there is no love interest at all in this movie. Instead it is about a different relationship – that of a Mother and Daughter. Being both a daughter and a mother this movie touched something within me. There is something that rings true about a mother trying to do what she believes is best and plotting out a path for her child and the daughter rebelling because her mother’s plans are so completely opposed to everything she has dreamt of for herself.

For the first half of this film I was totally enraptured, both by the story and the spectacular scenery brought to life by some of the most impressive computer animated graphics yet – OMG the fish in the stream! If you’ve seen the film you will know what I am talking about – the computer graphics are awesome! But… why oh why does there always have to be a but? But… just over half-way the film kind of took a turn for the predictable/boring/insert whatever you like here. Whatever it was I found myself looking at my watch and wondering how much longer the movie had to go. It was still a good movie, but it was no longer great.

Overall I think this was a really good movie, equal to most of Pixar’s films but certainly not up there with the likes of Toy Story or Finding Nemo (although it was far better than Cars 2 – so at least they seem to be on the way back up).

I give it 4 LuxoJr’s out of 5.

Have you seen it? Did agree with my review? Do you want to see it? Which is your favourite Pixar film? As always I love hearing from you.

Jody Moller


Monday at the Movies – A Gasland In My Own Backyard

Gasland is a 2010 American documentary written and directed by Josh Fox. The film focuses on communities in the United States impacted by natural gas drilling and, specifically, a stimulation method known as hydraulic fracturing (or in Australia we call it Fracking).

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This is a documentary that has been on my ‘to see’ list for months. Firstly because it was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary, secondly because friends of mine had seen it and told me it was a ‘must see’ movie, and thirdly because 15 coal seam gas mines have recently been approved for development near my house. So last week when I wandered into my local library and it was sitting on the shelf I took it as a message from the fates that it was time I got off my backside and watched it.

Let me set the record straight from the very beginning – this documentary is terrifying. If even a quarter of what is shown is true then the oil companies in America have some serious explaining to do.

The premise for the film is that Josh Fox (film maker) has just received a lucrative offer from an energy company wanting to lease his families land for natural gas extraction. Unsure of what to do he sets off across America to explore towns where the controversial technique of fracking has already been used. What he discovers will amaze you  – people with brain legions from exposure to unknown chemicals; contaminated water left in open pools to evaporate into the atmosphere; and even families that are able to set alight water flowing from the taps in their very own kitchens! This movie is about the contamination of water supplies by greedy companies only interested in increasing their bottom line.

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Josh Fox has created an entirely unique documentary. Filled with bitterly sad interviews with people affected by contamination from fracking processess, it overlays beautiful landscapes with more than a little banjo playing thrown in for good measure. The result is that you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

It is difficult to believe in a bureaucracy that allows companies to make ‘invisible’ pay-outs to avoid facing the music in a court of law. The only good news is that on June 23, 2011The United States Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will examine claims of water pollution related to hydraulic fracturing in Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Louisiana

This is is a ‘must see’ movie for anyone interested in… oh you know what… it is a must see movie for EVERYONE full-stop! I give it  my highest honour of 5/5 stars.

Have you seen the documentary? What was your opinion? Do you live in an area where hydraulic fracturing occurs? Have you seen first hand the contamination of natural water supplies? As always I would love to hear your opinion.

Jody Moller

For those of you in Australia there is a great GasLand Australia website here that collates all the most recent news articles and policy decisions regarding Coal Seam Gas Mining.

Monday at the Movies – Harry Potter 7 Part 2 Review

Okay people – you had to know it was coming. Yes that’s right, last week I finally went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Now while I have been known to give JK Rowling a bit of a rough time, I am a fan of the Harry Potter series, while I don’t agree with all aspects of the books, or the movies for that matter (occulo repairo… really? and if the Dementors are not a straight up copy of the Ringwraiths I will give it away – but I digress) I think that what she has done to get young people reading in phenomenal.

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As usual I will try not to give to much away, but if you are planning on seeing the movie and don’t want to know anything about it there will be some spoilers included here so you probably should click away now, but come on, hasn’t everyone read the books? I am guessing that you already know how it ends.

For the same reasons I am not going to give you a detailed synopsis. But here is the brief version: Harry, Ron and Hermione search for and destroy Horcruxes. Final battle takes place at the school – Voldemort + Death Eaters vs Harry + teachers + students. The End.

Overall, I have to say I enjoyed the film. If you are fan of the movies there are lots of long panning shots filled with familiar faces, which you will love. And all in all I think this movie was a fitting finish to the series. The action scenes were impressive and the survival of a particular character played better in the movie than it did in the book.

Okay, so now onto my gripes with the film. 

Gripe #1 – it dragged! I don’t know if it is simply because they split this book into two movies and therefore they had more time for long those long panning shots, or if it was just because I desperately needed to use the little girls room (I really shouldn’t drink diet coke at the movies) but this movie felt like it went for about 4 hrs. I must have checked my watch a hundred times.

Gripe # 2 – It was really not a kids movie. There were a couple of scenes in this film that had me cringing. I certainly would not have been comfortable taking any kid under the age of 10 to see it (and even over that age if they are a bit squeamish).

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Gripe # 3 – And this is the big one. They included the epilogue. I won’t repeat all of my problems with the final words of the Harry Potter books, you can read them here. I had hoped that they would leave it out (after all we have all read the book) but no it was there, larger than life. So why did I hate it so much? Well the epilogue is set 19 yrs after the end of the story which makes the main characters approx. 37. Did they look 37? No they looked like 22 yr olds playing dress-up (surely with the wonders of CGI they could have added some wrinkles or something). Also, I think that the scene before the epilogue provided a perfect end to the series, it was poignant and emotional (i even shed a tear) and then the epilogue ruined it!

(oh and a mini gripe – their was so little sexual tension in the kiss between Harry and Ginny that they would have been better off leaving it on the cutting room floor!)

In conclusion I give this movie 3 1/2 stars. It was good, but mostly because it was

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 the end of a classic series, with characters we know and love.


Did you know? That both Griphook and Prof Flitwick were played by the fantastic Warwick Davis (think Willow). Imagine the honour of being in two of the most incredible series ever to grace the big screen – Harry Potter and Star Wars!

Have you seen it? Did you like it? Did you agree that it was overly violent? Did you like the epilogue? Would love to hear your thoughts.

Jody Moller

Monday at the Movies – Cars 2 Review

When I first heard that Pixar were going to be making a sequel to Cars I had one of those internal cringe moments. I mean their last movie was a sequel (Toy Story 3) was it really wise to back it up with another? Surely Pixar (one of my fav production studios) were not going to succumb to the ‘Sequel-Cash-Cow’. Then when I learned that their 2013 release was going to be a sequel to Monsters Inc (currently titled Monsters University) I almost cried.

Just because I had reservations about the film didn’t mean I wasn’t going to go and see it – of course I was, at the first available opportunity, which just so happened to be yesterday.

Okay, so first a basic run down of the film.

In Cars 2 we find Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) heading back to Radiator Springs to spend time with his best friend Mater (Larry the Cable Guy) having just won his 4th Piston Cup. Lightning decides to participate in the inaugural World Grand Prix – heading off to Japan with Mater and his Racing Team in tow (pun not intended). When Mater is mistaken for an American spy by members of the British Intelligence Agency – Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer) and Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) the insuing drama is undoubtly hilarious. Mater and his spy friends must determine who is responsible for attacks on the cars participating in the Grand Prix before Lightning meets his demise.

So was the film great or was it just a cash in? Well I think I need to split that question into two separate questions.

The first is did my kids (2.5 and 4.5) like the movie? I think the best way to work out if kids like a movie is not to ask them straight out (they always say yes) but rather to use what I call the ‘wriggle-factor’. When my kids are really absorbed in a film their butts stick to the seat and they don’t move. They don’t ask me every two minutes for more food. And they don’t find it neccessary to sit on my lap and have a conversation. Unfortunately all these things happened in this movie. The problem, in my humble opinion, is that while it was exciting and colourful and fun it was just too confusing for them. All of the jokes my husband and I laughed at the most went completely over their heads and they were left asking me if I had any lollies left. Older kids might well be more engaged.

Secondly, did I like the film? YES, YES and YES. As you may have worked out (given that pixar films have now starred on my blog two weeks in a row) I am a bit of a Pixar fan. And I can promise you that any Pixar fan will love this movie. First of all it has the best computer graphics of any movie I have ever seen – while the cars themselves still maintain their cartoonish appearance the backgrounds could almost be real (except for the fact that all the famous landmarks have been modified slightly to incorporate car-based statues – I am sure this will provide loads of entertainment for things not noticed on a first viewing at the cinema). The movie was funny, yes Mater can at times be a bit painful (which seems to be the most common complaint from other reviews) but I think Lightning McQueen is painful too and was quite glad he wasn’t the main protag in this film. The only thing you need to remember is that it is ultimately a kids movie so if you are expecting something other than the obvious moral ending – go and see something else!

So my favourite moments (don’t worry I won’t give too much away). There was a lovely moment where the cars mourn the passing of Doc Hudson, which I can only assume was meant in homage to the passing of Paul Newman who voiced Doc Hudson in the original movie – a touching inclusion in the film. There were the inevitable references to previous Pixar films my favourite of which was the existence of ‘Gastow’s Restaurant’ in Paris (no that’s not a typo by me either, it’s a joke – get it?) There were plenty of amazing new characters including the very cool Professor Z (as a scientist myself I always have a soft-spot for the mad-scientist) and the Italian F1 car Francesco Bernoulli (voiced by the very funny John Turturro). And far too many laughs to count.

So personally, I give this 4 stars out of 5. I liked it, my husband liked it. I would like to go and see it again without the kids distracting me – but I am sure there will be plenty more viewings once it comes out on DVD.

Also as a side note the short movie that preceeded Cars2 was Toy Story Hawaiian Vacation and it was awesome. Correct me if I am wrong but I think this is the first of the pixar shorts (the ones before the cinema releases not the ones included on the DVDs) to include dialogue and at first I was a bit dissapointed – I love seeing how the Pixar masters manage to get so much across without the use of speech. But the short was so funny that it made up for it (I mean come on it stars Ken how can it not be funny!)

Have you seen Cars2? Are you planning on seeing it? Do you agree with my review? Was their anything you loved/hated about the film? Don’t forget to leave me a comment.

Jody Moller

(The Exasperated Novelist)