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February Movie Reviews: Reel Life with Jane

By on February 1, 2012

Movie and DVD/Blu-ray reviews for you and your family

Stranded whales, Jedi warriors, and tiny Borrowers are heading to theaters this month. Here’s a sneak peek at what’s new in theaters and on DVD/Blu-ray in February.

By Jane Louise Boursaw

BIG MIRACLE

PG for language.

In theaters 2/03. Ok for kids 7+.

Reel Preview: 3.5 Reels

http://www.everybodyloveswhales.com/

You already know how things will turn out in Big Miracle, but that’s ok. It’s still an inspiring story filled with hope and wonder. Based on the book Freeing the Whales by Thomas Rose, this real-life tale begins with small-town news reporter Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) looking to escape the northern tip of Alaska for a bigger market. But then the story of his career breaks – a group of whales are trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. With time running out, Adam and his ex-girlfriend, environmentalist Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore), must rally an unlikely coalition of Inuit natives, oil companies and Russian and American military to set aside their differences and free the whales. Directed by Ken Kwapis (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), this movie is mushy and sweet and a good choice for both you and your kids.

WOMAN IN BLACK

PG-13 for thematic material and violence/disturbing images.

In theaters 2/03. Ok for kids 12+.

Reel Preview: 3.5 Reels

http://www.womaninblack.com/

Harry Potter is moving on … sniff … In this gothic horror, Daniel Radcliffe plays Arthur Kipps, a widowed lawyer whose grief has put his career in jeopardy. When he’s sent to a remote village to sort out the affairs of a recently deceased eccentric, it becomes clear that everyone in the town is keeping a deadly secret. The townspeople try to keep Kipps from learning their tragic history, but he soon discovers that the house belonging to his client is haunted by the ghost of a woman determined to find someone and something she lost, and no one is safe from her vengeance. This film might attract teenagers who grew up watching Radcliffe as the young wizard, but it’s too dark for tweens.

STAR WARS: EPISODE 1 – THE PHANTOM MENACE IN 3D

PG for sci-fi action/violence.

In theaters 2/10. Ok for kids 9+.

Reel Rating: 4 Reels.

http://www.starwars.com/watch/episode-i-3d.html

Yes, it’s true. Every movie will eventually head back to theaters in 3D, or so it seems. This first chapter of the Star Wars saga begins with Jedi apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) discovering nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd), a young slave unusually strong in the Force. After winning a thrilling Pod race, Anakin journeys to Naboo with Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon, who content with a deadly foe named Darth Maul. Meanwhile, Anakin and the Queen face massive invasion forces – the first in a sinister scheme by dark forces known as the Sith. If you’re like me, you probably need a storyboard to keep track of what’s what, but this 3D theatrical release is a great springboard to watch the Star Wars saga again from the beginning.

JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND

PG for some adventure action and brief mild language.

In theaters 2/10. Ok for kids 8+.

Reel Preview: 3.5 Reels

http://www.themysteriousisland.com

Based on the book by Jules Verne, this follow-up to 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth finds young Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, reprising his role) receiving a coded distress signal from a mysterious island where no island should exist. Unable to stop him from going, Sean’s new stepfather Hank (Dwayne Johnson) joins the quest. Together with a helicopter pilot (Luis Guzman) and his strong-willed daughter (Vanessa Hudgens), they set out to find the island, rescue its lone inhabitant, and escape before seismic shockwaves force the island under the sea and bury its treasures forever. Directed by Brad Peyton, the film also features Michael Caine as Sean’s grandfather and Kristin Davis as Sean’s mom. While this might not be the best adventure movie ever, it’s still a fun caper with a PG rating that’s ok for kids 8 and older. It’s also a good way to get kids reading the classic novel.

THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY

Rated G. In theaters 2/17.

Ok for kids 6+

Reel Preview: 4 Reels

http://disney.go.com/official-sites/arrietty/index

Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the animator behind Ponyo, Howl’s Moving Castle and Spirited Away, directs this sweet film based on Mary Norton’s classic book The Borrowers. Arrietty (voiced by  Bridgit Mendler), is a tiny but tenacious 14-year-old girl who lives with her parents (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) under the floorboards of a suburban home. Like all little people, Arrietty remains hidden except for the occasional covert ops to “borrow” scrap supplies like sugar cubes from her human hosts. But when 12-year-old Shawn (David Henrie), a human boy who comes to stay in the home, discovers his mysterious housemate, a secret friendship blossoms and poses danger for Arrietty and her family.

NEW ON DVD | BLU-RAY:

LADY AND THE TRAMP (3-DISC DIAMOND EDITION)

Rated G. On DVD/Blu-ray 2/07

Ok for kids 4+.

Reel Rating: 5 out of 5 Reels

http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/lady-and-the-tramp/; buy on Amazon.

Love is unexpected, faithful, magical, and filled with adorable dogs falling in love over a strand of spaghetti. You know the story: Lady (voiced by Barbara Luddy) is a pampered cocker spaniel who finds herself out in the cold world with Tramp (Larry Roberts), a freewheeling mutt with a heart of gold. This new edition includes a ton of bonus features, including never-before-seen deleted songs and scenes, making of featurettes and more.

I HEART MINNIE

Rated G. On DVD 2/07.

Ok for kids 3+

Reel Rating: 4 Reels

http://disneydvd.disney.go.com/disney-mickey-mouse-clubhouse-i-heart-minnie.html;

buy on Amazon.

Join Minnie, Daisy and their clubhouse pals for friendship and fun as they celebrate Minnie’s birthday. But whether Mickey and the gang can keep the party a secret until it’s time to shout “Surprise!” remains to be seen. Young viewers get to help pick the right mouseketools, dance with Daisy in the big talent show, and journey to the end of the rainbow to find Leprechaun Pete’s pot of gold.

CYBERBULLY

TV-14. On DVD 2/07

Ok for kids 13+

Reel Rating: 3.5 Reels

http://abcfamily.go.com/movies/cyberbully; buy on Amazon.

Taylor (Emily Osment) is a pretty 17-year-old who’s dealing with her parents’ divorce and painfully aware of her lower social status in high school. When she gets a computer for her birthday, Taylor soon finds herself the victim of betrayal and bullying while visiting a popular social website, and withdraws from her friends and family, including best friend Samantha (Kay Panabaker). Taylor’s mom (Kelly Rowan) takes on the school system and state legislature to bring justice and awareness to cyberbullying. An important topic for any family with kids who spend time on social networks.

AMERICAN TEACHER

Not rated. On DVD 2/14

Ok for kids 11+

Reel Rating: 4 Reels

http://www.americanteachermovie.com/; buy on Amazon.

Think the salaries of pro football players and teachers should be switched? Me, too. There’s no question that teachers play a huge role in our kids’ lives and success, but American teachers are so underpaid that nearly two-thirds have to work a second job in order to make ends meet. Narrated by Matt Damon, this documentary chronicles the stories of four teachers in different parts of the country, revealing frustrating realities and delving into why so many great teachers end up leaving the profession. Can we re-value teaching and turn it into a prestigious, financially attractive, and desirable profession? It’s not too late to try.

JANE’S REEL RATING SYSTEM

One Reel – Even the Force can’t save it.
Two Reels – Coulda been a contender
Three Reels – Something to talk about.
Four Reels – You want the truth? Great flick!
Five Reels – Wow! The stuff dreams are made of.

Jane Boursaw is a family entertainment writer specializing in movies, TV and celebrities. Syndicate her family movie and TV reviews in your publication; visit her at Reel Life With Jane; follow her on Twitter; become a friend on Facebook; email jboursaw@charter.net.

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