Robert Nelson Jacobs

Robert Nelson Jacobs

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Extraordinary Measures Review


Good
The A-list cast raises this film above its unsophisticated TV-movie style, helped by the remarkable facts of the true story. The actors even manage to add nuance to the straightforward, over-sentimentalised writing and direction.

John Crowley (Fraser) is a manager at a pharmaceutical company who hears about the innovative theories of Dr Robert Stonehill (Ford) for the treatment of Pompe Disease, a variation on muscular dystrophy. John and his wife Aileen (Russell) have two wheelchair-bound children (Droeger and Velazquez) with the condition, plus an older son (Hall) without it. So they all have a special interest in Stonehill's work. But the eccentric doctor isn't so easy to get on board, mainly because he needs a lot of money to continue his research.

Continue reading: Extraordinary Measures Review

The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep Review


Good
It has to be the most incongruous concept for a family film ever. Take the myth of the Loch Ness monster, marry it to a near note-for-note take on E.T., and pepper the entire thing with a World War II era British boy's adventure tale. Add in the millennium-mandated CGI, some standard kid vid slapstick, and an ending that sees both Das Boot and Free Willy inadvertently referenced, and you've got Jay Russell's incredibly surreal The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep. While this cobbled together effort offers some intriguing ideas, things get messy quickly, and quite often.

It's the mid-point of WWII, and the household staff of a massive Scottish manor is taken aback by the arrival of an entire English battalion. They are there, on express permission of the owner, to guard the local lake and prevent German U-boats from advancing on UK positions. Among the servant family affected are head housekeeper Anne MacMarrow (Emily Watson), and her children Kristie and little Angus (Alex Etel). She's already suffered a wartime loss, and doesn't want her children harmed further. Into their life come two distinct beings. One is new handyman Lewis Mowbray (Ben Chaplin). The other is a baby "water horse" -- a mythic creature that takes an instant liking to Angus. While he tries to protect the beast, the forces of war threaten everyone -- and everything -- on the estate.

Continue reading: The Water Horse: Legend Of The Deep Review

Dinosaur Review


Weak
Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural selection. Much like The Lion King's "Circle of Life," Dinosaur regales itself in survival of the fittest, only few people are going to be humming "Hakuna Matata" after this one.

For starters, Dinosaur is that rarest of Disney animation flicks which is not a musical. There's a thumping James Newton Howard score, but the only singing here comes from trumpeting iguanodons and brachiosaurs. The story, on the other hand, is typical Disney kiddie fare: Iguanodon Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is orphaned as a wee dino-egg on a remote island, where he is raised, Tarzan-style, by a family of lemurs (er... okay). When a freak meteor strike blows the island away, along with much of the rest of the world, Aladar swims to the mainland with his lemur family on his back, where he meets up with the surviving herbivorous dinosaurs who have banded together to trek to "the nesting grounds," a Waterworld-style vale which hasn't been reduced to desert and ruins like, apparently, the rest of the earth. (And never mind the fallout; there is none...)

Continue reading: Dinosaur Review

Dinosaur Review


Weak
Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural selection. Much like The Lion King's "Circle of Life," Dinosaur regales itself in survival of the fittest, only few people are going to be humming "Hakuna Matata" after this one.

For starters, Dinosaur is that rarest of Disney animation flicks which is not a musical. There's a thumping James Newton Howard score, but the only singing here comes from trumpeting iguanodons and brachiosaurs. The story, on the other hand, is typical Disney kiddie fare: Iguanodon Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is orphaned as a wee dino-egg on a remote island, where he is raised, Tarzan-style, by a family of lemurs (er... okay). When a freak meteor strike blows the island away, along with much of the rest of the world, Aladar swims to the mainland with his lemur family on his back, where he meets up with the surviving herbivorous dinosaurs who have banded together to trek to "the nesting grounds," a Waterworld-style vale which hasn't been reduced to desert and ruins like, apparently, the rest of the earth. (And never mind the fallout; there is none...)

Continue reading: Dinosaur Review

The Shipping News Review


OK
Kevin Spacey is the Spock of serious actors. He's dependable, methodical, passionless, a huge fan of saying everything by saying nothing at all. He tends to gravitate towards characters hiding some sort of fiery secret pain by denying themselves exterior displays of emotion or excitement. In certain films, this really works, thus earning Spacey a reputation as on of Hollywood's best working actors. In The Shipping News however, it bombs badly.

It's not really Spacey's fault, it's just the script. Spacey is Quoyle, a newly single father, after his slutty whore of a wife (Cate Blanchett) is killed while selling their daughter on the black market to earn spending cash for her latest biker boyfriend. Quoyle spends his time grieving and in denial and soon decides to follow a long lost aunt to the homeland of his family in Newfoundland. There, he stumbles into a job as the shipping news reporter for the local newspaper.

Continue reading: The Shipping News Review

Chocolat Review


OK
Take Footloose and Like Water for Chocolate, steep the combo in a heaping helping of corn syrup, and you'll come out with the sticky, sickly-sweet romantic cautionary tale Chocolat. The Cider House Rules director Lasse Hallström helms this adaptation of the best-selling novel by Joanne Harris, and delivers yet another pretty package of tempered social messages -- this time preaching about social tolerance instead of abortion.

Set against the idyllic backdrop of a quaint puritanical village in the French countryside, mysterious Vianne (Juliette Binoche) and her daughter, dressed in identical Red Riding Hood outfits, literally blow into town "on the North Wind." Within days, the duo brazenly opens a magical chocolaterie across the street -- gasp -- from the church, and on the first week of Lent, no less. Vianne -- who comes off as a 50's-era Erin Brockovich sporting low-cut tops and bright red stilettos -- is turning the townsfolk on to her sweets, which a la Pleasantville miraculously inspire increased sex drives, feminist awakenings, familial reconciliation and even criminal rehabilitation. Soon, the town's prudish mayor launches a campaign to drive the sin-inducing shop out of business.

Continue reading: Chocolat Review

Robert Nelson Jacobs

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Robert Nelson Jacobs Movies

Extraordinary Measures Movie Review

Extraordinary Measures Movie Review

The A-list cast raises this film above its unsophisticated TV-movie style, helped by the remarkable...

Dinosaur Movie Review

Dinosaur Movie Review

Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural...

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Dinosaur Movie Review

Dinosaur Movie Review

Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural...

The Shipping News Movie Review

The Shipping News Movie Review

Kevin Spacey is the Spock of serious actors. He's dependable, methodical, passionless, a huge...

Chocolat Movie Review

Chocolat Movie Review

Take Footloose and Like Water for Chocolate, steep the combo in a heaping helping of...

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