Doc T.'s Movie Ratings - Rotten Tomatoes

Movie Ratings and Reviews

Pom Poko (Heisei tanuki gassen pompoko) (The Raccoon War)

Bizarre doesn't even begin to cover this movie. First of all, the animation is excellent, and how can you go wrong with Ghibli. The fact that this is animated allows for insurmountable masses of distracting, wacky, surreal, and hilariously disturbing imagery that the film exploits to no end.

Perhaps if I were more familiar with Japanese folklore, or if I could watch the Japanese language version with direct translation in subtitles, I would understand better what the flippin' heck is going on. The English dub I feel has to change a lot to fit the character's mouths and to appeal to an audience of English speakers. There's definitely a story to follow, but the unprepared will constantly be scratching their heads and going "Whaaaaaaat" and "Why." It's just that bizarre to witness.

Overall, it's an inspired art piece. I love the visuals, but I can't love it all the way through, although for the imagery, I'm up for multiple viewings.

I've always believed that some things can only be experienced by watching movies, and no doubt, 'Pom Poko' is one of the most one-of-a-kind experiences I've ever seen.

Secrets & Lies

'Secrets & Lies' is a literary piece of original work in cinema, showcasing director-writer Mike Leigh's unrivaled style of storytelling, that is as much a human comedy as it is a high quality drama.

I never knew of Mike Leigh's famous 'improvisation-acting' technique prior to watching this, and the more I look back, the more I realize that's what allowed me to fall in love with the film in the first place.

We're faced with characters so natural and substantial, they could easily be people in our lives. They face completely human dramas, things like keeping secrets, coping with death and mediating between relatives who don't get along - and with these elements coming together perfectly, the story is told from beginning to end without needing to catch a breath. Every scenario tells us more about each character, each dilemma, and in doing so, allows us to care more how everything turns out.

I've joked that there's enough content in 'Secrets & Lies' that it could've been a miniseries, but I'm glad it's this instead. I'm convinced this is Mike Leigh's masterpiece and it's definitely one of my favorite movies of all time.


"Barking at the Moon" became my comfort song for a while. The idea of being lost far away from home has always stricken me with either fear or sorrow, and those lyrics: "that home belongs to you" was the first thing in years that gave me clarity to that feeling. It was the sincere longing for a familiar place, on the backdrop of enjoying the exploration of a boundless world.

Briefly, 'Bolt' is a gimmicky, cartoonish, cross-country adventure; the technical aspects are fair and the animal characters are designed to be nothing but cute. Whether you enjoy the trip or not, you'll have characters to relate to. Mittens doesn't enjoy being stuck with the other two, while Rhino is overly-enthusiastic and hyperactive, and Bolt is only sure of where to go half the time.

I loved this movie because I saw it for more than what it was, for what it is though, it's still worth that love. My affections can be understood in the context of taking care of a pet: we talk to our pets even though we know they can't exactly comprehend what we say. We ask them questions even though we know they can't reply. In our silent conversations, we develop a personal bond that will seem typical, but between caretaker and pet, that bond is precious. 'Bolt' has a meaning that will certainly be stereotypical to many, no denial on that, but I give it credit that it never stopped believing in what it was saying.

'Bolt' focuses on being honest to its emotions. It's openly silly, cute, fun-loving and undemandingly linear - and it won my heart for that, just catering to my acceptance of the fact that animals can be sympathetic, feeling beings. It's far from being a grandmaster work of film, but I love it for all the good memories and feelings attached to watching it.


Here's a movie that embraces its ability to be animated and fictional. My opinion on 'Rango' still stands from when I first watched it: It's ridiculous, sometimes even stupid, unnecessarily gritty, unavoidably strange - and for some movies, that would equal disaster. But here, that combination gave it its creative spirit. 'Rango' sacrifices comedic appeal and a bit of charm for an explosion of pure genius.

The first element that caught my attention about 'Rango' was this lean towards surrealism. Unsettling and dreamlike imagery is used early in the film to set up the weirdness to follow. Then there's the quirky personality ensemble of characters whose dialogue suits them perfectly. Then we get the unapologetic amount of cartoon action over pulse-pounding music. And finally, as the dark undertone of the film progresses, we get the clever return of certain story elements, which sealed the movie with an accomplished fate.

I think it was a brilliant idea to have the well-versed visual effects studio, Industrial Light & Magic, animate this movie. The landscape scenes are breathtaking, and even the characters who are written to be grotesque and unsightly look as beautiful as they possibly can.

My biggest problem with the film is really the pointless extended DVD ending, which is different from the original and perfectly okay theatrical ending. Based on how maturely this movie took itself, the theatrical ending is better.

I know a lot of people hate this movie. There's also been comparisons to classic western films, which I'm not a fan of. Maybe if I knew more about the old films before I watched this, I wouldn't find it as good. Or maybe, I would love it even more.

In any case, I would argue: When people compare this to old films (one criticism was, "here comes Chinatown, the animated version"), are they saying that every western is just a derivate of another, as long as they have similar elements? I don't think that's the case. A film is good or bad for what it is.

'Rango' is definitely one of my favorite movies of all time. Its mixture of eccentricity, grit, depth and absurdity isn't for everyone, but it's certainly for me.


It has some annoying nuances, as you would expect from a comedy of errors, but it's also very charming, enjoyable, and I loved that it didn't go where I dreaded it would.

I like that it's not just saying one thing, and there's some things to think about. At the beginning, it makes you think "no, I don't want to have anything to do with this 'crazy' man" But as the film goes by, and we meet Elwood (and Harvey) through the eyes of multiple people with different opinions and also their similar stand on the situation "we need to 'cure' him." But at the same time, we agree, "he's a sweet, sweet man."

One of my favorite things about Elwood's character is his personification of Harvey as an aid to other people's worries: "He's bigger than anything they carry" or something to that effect. Specificity aside, the quote is sensible and sentimentalist, one that I would say represents the heart of the film.

Another aspect I love about this film is Josephine Hulls' performance; she's a sweet, dignified lady whose acting style fit the movie's mood perfectly and trailblazed the appeal for the rest of the characters.

It's an interesting mix of fantasy and reality, and it did keep my attention throughout. Great movie, and it won my favor.


It's disappointing that for a movie with so many possibilities for a heartfelt and inspiring, albeit "for kids," story, 'Balto' frequently misfires and becomes pretty devoid of emotional payoff.

The jokes are awkward and way overplayed, and the characters are basic, paper-thin and without chemistry. Instead of giving time to develop the plot, time is wasted superimposing the "anti-prejudice, underdog suddenly becomes a big hero" theme onto scenes that already make it pretty clear what this movie is going to be about.

The animation is also sketchily inconsistent for some characters. With the exception of the black bear, who I'm convinced is one of the most well animated characters in traditional film, in terms of both presence and style. One of the upsides I can see in this movie is pausing a few times to study do's and don'ts of character design.

The only other upside I've found (and this is a long shot) are the fan fiction stories surrounding 'Balto' and its characters, many which I've found have dove into the themes and developments that the film overlooked. I'm interested in Balto as an expansive character; I really feel this movie was a missed opportunity that it only carried his namesake but not the prominence of his legend.

I wish I could like this movie more, but I just can't. If you're especially interested in traditionally animated talking animal movies, then maybe you'll like it, but even the talking lacks purpose that it makes you question whether or not it was necessary to make them say anything in the first place.

House of Flying Daggers

This movie is beautiful to experience. The visuals are, in the most understated sense, magical. About 8 minutes I stopped caring about what was real and what was special effects, because everything just looked impossibly spectacular.

The real feat of the movie is the sensual opera of sight and sound it created. The movement, color pallette and attention to detail is gorgeous. If I just watched all the action sequences without context, I would probably still be satisfied with the movie.

The other aspects of the movie are just fair. The story may be formulaic, but there's nothing wrong with having a simple twisty plot.

The only thing that really bothers me is that the film seems to be detached to its emotional center. The feelings of the characters are present, but they aren't discovered within their interaction or personalities, they just exist to be exposed and move the plot forward. This gets bothersome because a lot of time in the movie is given for us to try and accept these feelings, but in the end, we can't care genuinely enough for them to be concerned.

Nonetheless, 'House of Flying Daggers' is a superb work of imagery. Is it worth watching again just to see pretty visuals? Certainly.

Guardians of the Galaxy

At an age where my biggest problems are things like the rent, doctor's appointments and getting a steady job, it's nice to be thrust back to that time when my biggest problem was that evil overlords were threatening my heroes. I never thought for one second that they could lose. It was a nice time. And this time, I have to thank 'Guardians of the Galaxy.' I got to be that kid again.

The strength of the film is that the creators knew exactly what it wasn't: It's not a gripping drama, or an epic tearjerker, or a lesson in morality - it's a dynamic blockbuster.

I'm happy to say the creators put all their effort into the entertainment value. Although it tends to pace above the speed limit, the movie starts to fall into place naturally while I catch my breath several times in.

Little has to be forced because it shows they knew what wacky style it would take to tell the story of interstellar fugitives and magical glow stones and they stuck to that style. They remained loyal to it from every 80's cultural reference to every smartass comment from the universe's most awesome raccoon (not that he knows what that is).

It's a style that's familiar and beckoning, with a hearty, vigorous nostalgia that re-awakens my childlike dream of getting superpowers one day.

I love this movie. And I'm not finished loving it anytime soon.