Chasing Mavericks

My rating: 

I saw Chasing Mavericks with my friend and his family, and it is based on a true story of surfing legend Jay Moriarity (1978-2001), and how he learned to surf the world’s most dangerous wave, the maverick. He was trained by surfing legend Rick “Frosty” Hesson (played by Gerard Butler). In the course of Jay’s training, the 2 surfers form a relationship.

Unfortunately, Jay died in a diving accident in the Indian Ocean, a day before his 23rd birthday. He had a wife named Kim Moriarity, who was his friend since their childhood. Jay is remembered as a “soul surfer”, winning many sportsmanship awards throughout his career. Moriarity deserved a tribute like this film, for he was a really great surfer.

I really enjoyed this movie and I would recommend it for children my age (10) or older. Adults will also really enjoy this movie. I really liked Gerard Butler’s role as Frosty Hesson, although he was hospitalized after being injured during a surfing stunt on December 19, 2011. This is my favorite movie starring Gerard Butler.

The movie was filmed in Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay (the movie also takes place in both locations). I don”t think I’ll ever be able to surf a wave as big as a maverick!

Also, here is the website and the trailer of the movie.


My rating:

Frankenweenie is the first 3D animated black and white film, and it is directed by Tim Burton. It is a parody of the 1931 film Frankenstein, which is based on Mary Shelley’s book of the same name. It is also a remake of Tim Burton’s own 1984 short film, also titled Frankenweenie. Burton offered it to Disney, but they thought it was too strange. How ironic it is that 30 years later they asked him to make it into a feature film!

This film is about a boy named Victor Frankenstein, who’s best friend is his dog, Sparky. His parents want him to make friends with the neighbors, but Victor has no interest in making friends with the kids who live nearby, who include Nassor, a weird kid with a flat head inspired by Frankenstein’s monster, Edgar, a deformed, igor-like kid, Bob, an obese kid, Toshiaki, a Japanese classmate of Victor’s, and a weird, unnamed girl, who owns a cat named Mr. Whiskers. The only kid who really cares for Victor is Elsa, his next-door neighbor and the mayor’s niece, who owns a dog named Persephone. One day Sparky is killed by a car while pursuing a ball, and Victor is heartbroken. Persephone and Elsa are miserable, too. But one day in school Victor learns that the muscles of a dead frog still react to electricity. Victor tries this experiment on Sparky, which succeeds and Victor is really happy. But when Victor’s classmates find out, they plan to win the science fair using Victor’s creation, and they create monsters of their own, including a mummy hamster, a were-rat, a Gamera-like monster turtle, sea monkeys, and worst of all… a vampire cat!

This movie would be way too scary for kids younger than my age (10), but some parts are not as scary as others. This movie was OK, but not as good as Hotel Transylvania. I heard that Tim Burton was inspired to make this movie from his experience of losing his own dog when he was a child, and now, after watching this movie, I know how he felt when he lost his dog.

Also, here is the trailer of the movie.

Hotel Transylvania

My rating: 

Hotel Transylvania is a hilarious, animated film starring Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James and Fran Drescher. In this film, Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) owns a resort named Hotel Transylvania, where monsters and their families can rest in peace, away from the danger of humans. On one special weekend, Dracula invites the world’s most famous monsters, including Frankenstein’s monster (voiced by Kevin James), his bride (voiced by Fran Drescher), a family of werewolves (the parents, Wayne and Wanda, are voiced by Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon), Murray the Mummy (voiced by Cee Lo Green), Griffin the Invisible Man (voiced by David Spade), Bigfoot, the Blob, and many other famous monsters to celebrate his daughter, Mavis(voiced by Selena Gomez)’s 118th birthday. But an ordinary 21-year-old human traveler named Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg) accidentally enters the hotel and falls in love with Mavis.

I really enjoyed this film and I thought it was hilarious. I would recommend this movie for children of all ages. Even adults will enjoy this movie. My brother and my dad also really enjoyed it. It is now one of my favorite animated movies of all time!

Also, here is the website and the trailer of the movie.

Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest

My rating:    

This is a 6-minute short film made by Perry Chen, an 11-year-old animator and movie blogger (like me), directed by Kevin Sean Michaels and produced by Bill Plympton. It is a true story about a girl named Ingoushka Petrov (later known as Ingrid Pitt), who survived the Holocaust in 1945, when she was only eight years old. She narrated the film herself and it was her last project before she passed away. Like Anne Frank, it was her childhood dream to become an actress and she eventually lived her dream and was a movie star for over 40 years before her death in late 2010.

This short film describes the Holocaust experience through Ingrid Pitt’s eyes in very simple, hand-drawn animation. I was very impressed by the movie’s ability to express Ingrid Pitt’s fear of being imprisoned in the concentration camp with her mother, constantly fearing for her life, experiencing hunger, diseases and sadness. I really liked how Perry Chen made Ingrid’s bad memories in black and white and her good memory (of the moment she learned the war was over) in color – almost like she was becoming alive again.

As a Jewish boy I was personally moved by this film. It made me feel that I can now better understand what my great grandmother’s family went through in Poland. They, too, were taken to concentration camps and killed in horrific ways (my great grandmother was the only survivor from a big family). She still lives in Israel (she’s 98 years old now) and frequently shares her family stories and pictures with us.

This film will be featured at the Transbay Festival, kicking off this Friday, October 12 in San Francisco.

Also, here is a preview video of the movie.

Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

My rating:   

I saw this movie last week on Youtube and I thought it was a great movie. It stars Josh Hutcherson, AnnaSophia Robb, Bailee Madison, Robert Patrick and Zooey Deschanel. It is based on the award-winning novel by Katherine Paterson, which I also read, and it is the story of Jess Aarons (played by Josh Hutcherson)who meets a girl named Leslie Burke (played by AnnaSophia Robb). Together, they create the imaginary land of Terabithia and rule as king and queen. This friendship helps Jess cope with the tragedy that makes him realize what Leslie had taught him. I would recommend this touching film for the whole family.

Also, here is the trailer of the movie.


My rating:  

Renga is an interactive, cinematic game in which the audience gets a laser pointer, and using it, they must build their ship, defend it, and battle “the Boss”- Renga. Renga won Best New Platform at the Palo Alto International Film Festival (PAIFF), and I was lucky to attend it at the film festival. I enjoyed this experience, especially taking part of the plot, and  even being encouraged to be loud and share ideas with others in the audience. At the end of the movie there was a Q&A session with the two filmmakers – both from England – and I asked a question about the inspiration behind the making of Renga. “People were already making social games” they answered, “and we thought there must be a way of making a social game that includes many people together in a room, in a way that makes the theatrical experience still necessary and relevant”.

I was excited to meet the filmmakers and take part in such a unique cinematic experience! This photo features me with Adam Russell, one of the two movie directors (the other director is named John Sear).  

The PAIFF also offered a youth filmmaking workshop, which I attended. I enjoyed learning about the history of filmmaking, and exeprience production-making with some other young movie lovers.