Three Family Films from MGM
The Dust Factory (June 26/05)
The Dust Factory stars Ryan Kelley as Ryan Flynn, a young man who hasn't spoken a word since his father died in a horrific train crash some years ago. After almost drowning in a freak accident, Ryan finds himself transported to some kind of purgatory - where he encounters a healthy version of his Alzheimer's afflicted grandfather and a spunky young girl named Melanie (Hayden Panettiere). The Dust Factory is actually fairly engaging for a little while, as it deals with Ryan's wordless existence (his mother, in particular, seems to have accepted this change in his personality). But the film slows down dramatically once Ryan enters this inexplicable world where normal rules don't seem to apply (ie Melanie is able to skate atop running water), something that's exacerbated by the fact that writer/director Eric Small refuses to offer up any answers. And while the performances are surprisingly effective - Kelley and Panettiere are cute and engaging - the film nevertheless becomes increasingly tedious and nonsensical as it progresses. It's all very whimsical and fluffy, but the bottom line is, who cares?
Loch Ness (June 10/05)
That Loch Ness bypassed movie theaters and instead premiered on network television doesn't come as much of a surprise, given the film's decidedly uncinematic vibe. Ted Danson stars as Jonathan Dempsey, a disgraced scientist whose last chance for redemption involves a quest to track down the mythical Loch Ness monster (if he can't find it, his career is effectively over). Upon arriving in Scotland, Dempsey encounters a grizzled old fisherman (played by Ian Holm) who is determined to ensure that the monster remains hidden. Loch Ness is entertaining enough, though entirely forgettable; there's a distinct sense of innocuousness at work here, making it ideal entertainment for kids. Having said that, a subplot involving the burgeoning romance between Dempsey and a lonely innkeeper (played by Joely Richardson) keeps things interesting, while Danson delivers an unexpectedly complex performance. But really, there's a reason this premiered on television...
Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (June 26/05)
An incredibly blatant and shameless rip-off of the Star Wars movies, Starchaser: The Legend of Orin follows a scrappy young hero, a jaded, wise-cracking cynic, and an intergalactic princess as they set out to put an end to a seemingly unstoppable villain's reign of terror. There are plenty more similarities to be found throughout the film's running time, and though Jeffrey Scott's screenplay does feature a few intriguing ideas, there's just nothing here worth embracing. The majority of the film's elements - from the cheesy score by Andrew Belling to the surprisingly low-rent animation - are overwhelmingly mediocre, and give the production a dated, woefully out-of-touch feel (the movie's 20 years old and looks it). It seems entirely possible that kids will enjoy Starchaser: The Legend of Orin, but the reality is they'd be far better off with George Lucas' saga.