Yes, I just gave away a major plot point for The Zookeeper’s Wife and you know why?
Because people get pissed when you kill the animals! Just ask John Wick.
Sure, The Zookeeper’s Wife is about the Nazi occupation of Poland and the countless human lives that were lost, but it’s the dead animals that audiences won’t see coming. I’m telling you now so you won’t go to the theater expecting precious zoo-stories, only to watch the Nazis execute elephants, bison and OMIGOSH, that poor baby camel! Once you get beyond that awfulness, The Zookeeper’s Wife tells a poignant true story of the Warsaw zookeepers who hid hundreds of Jews during the Nazi occupation. Jessica Chastain’s Polish accent is a bit grating, but she and Johan Heldenberg both deliver solid performances as Antonia and Jan Zabinski. The Zookeeper’s Wife is also plagued by scattered pacing and an awkward ending (you mean that boy’s been carrying a rabbit around for a solid year?). It doesn’t stand up to Holocaust films like Schindler’s List or Life is Beautiful, but The Zookeeper’s Wife does offer a refreshing female perspective while telling an important, true story. Just brace yourself and remember, they’re going to kill those animals. (C+)
Parent Review: The Zookeeper’s Wife is rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality and brief nudity. Young people might struggle with the brutality and murder of innocents, so I would only take kids over 13 who had an interest in WWII history.
Ghost in the Shell tells of a future where the line between “human” and “robot” has blurred. That’s weird because, for a sci-fi film, Ghost in the Shell doesn’t feel very futuristic. In fact, my biggest complaint about GITS is that most of it appears to be lifted from earlier sci-fi films, like Blade Runner and The Matrix. It actually IS lifted, in many aspects, from the original 1995 Ghost in Shell anime, which was ground-breaking for it’s time. Even casting Scarlett Johansson as the human-brain (ghost) in a robot (shell) feels lifted since it’s so similar to her role in Lucy and of course, as Black Widow. That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the Ghost in the Shell story or the barrage of special effects. Johansson plays Major, a high-tech weapon/cyborg who struggles to define herself as human or robot. She finds unexpected links to her past while chasing a cyber-criminal, which unlocks a touching backstory. While I didn’t feel I was treading any new territory with Ghost in the Shell, it definitely pulled me in and made me want to see more of Major’s story. I just wish that filmmakers who are building onscreen futures for audiences would stop leaning on movies from the past. (B-)
Parent Review: Ghost in the Shell is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence, suggestive content and some disturbing images. I didn’t see anything in this movie that would be too traumatic for youngsters, though some might be embarrassed by Johansson’s skin-tight bodysuit. Kids who are interested in anime and manga will especially appreciate Ghost in the Shell.