Like most men, I've been a fan of the James Bond films since I first saw them as a boy. The irresistiblecombination of inventive chase scenes, sophisticated spy craft and beautiful women made me a true believer around age 10. My red-blooded, 13-year-old now shares this love of all things 007 and we watch them together. Father and son together time at its best.
In this installment of the venerable series, the aging Daniel Craig reprises his role as the edgy master spy, as does Judi Dench, playing his boss. Their on-screen chemistry is compelling, particularly since they aren't romantically involved.
In this his third film playing Bond, I've gotten used to Craig's vision of a less polished, darker 007. This ultra-bleak approach does, however, take its toll. My wife refuses to watch with us, and I don't get the same sense of escapist joy that the previous Bond films delivered. The violence is more intense and realistic, while a sense of doom hangs over the film. Still, the chase sequences are first-rate and Craig's charisma can't be denied.
That said, Javier Bardem's role in this film -- as a disgraced MI6 agent who goes rogue and seeks deadly revenge against his former employer -- is worth the price of a rental in and of itself. Bardem's performance rivals Anthony Hopkins in "Silence of the Lambs" as the best bad guy in modern filmmaking. That Bardem wasn't nominated for an Oscar is a sad reflection of the Academy's limits.
The intensity and violence make this best for kids 13 and up. (PG-13: Violence and sex). 2 hours and 23 minutes.
Ratings (out of 4 stars):
Overall: 3 stars
Teens: 3½ stars
Adults: 3 stars
Seniors: 2½ stars
Should you watch it? Yes — Bond film hijacked by masterful Javier Bardem.
As a parent, I happily sit through many second-rate kids' films that a childless adult would consider a mild form of torture. But if your kid is having a great time with corny jokes, an uninventive script and ho-hum animation, it's hard to be completely negative.
Former funnyman Adam Sandler brings his whiff-making movie machine to the world of feature-length cartoons. Sandler is the voice of Dracula, who is not the fearsome blood-sucker we remember, but instead an anal retentive hotelier, running a Catskills-like resort for monsters of all stripes.
The rest of Sandler's posse is here too, with Kevin James, David Spade and Andy Samberg playing various ghouls with hearts of gold.
There is nothing particularly bad about the movie, and there were times I laughed along with my daughter. But your kids deserve better, and it is easy to find high-quality family films.
The usual lowest-common-denominator bathroom jokes are in full effect, so more sensitive parents may not want to expose their preschooler to this. (PG: Rude humor). 1 hour and 31 minutes.
Ratings (out of 4 stars):
Overall: 2 stars
Kids: 3 stars
Teens: 1½ stars
Adults: 2 stars
Seniors: 1½ stars
Should you watch it? No — Monster-themed cartoon lacks a soul.
J.B. Alderman lives in Pied- mont and can be reached at email@example.com.