Heaven Is for Real
Faith-based film tries reaching past its audience, but falls back on preaching to its own choir way too much.
Q. A blogger named Brian at takes issue with your remarks about Paul Greengrass' long takes in "The Bourne Ultimatum," writing: "I don't recall a single take in this movie that was more than about three seconds long. Either Greengrass really does a spectacular job of not 'calling attention' to those long takes, or Ebert saw a different movie. But it's very strange, no matter what." (From goneelsewhere.wordpress.com:) Who's right?
Q. In your review of "The Simpsons Movie," you mention that it is already voted as the 166th best film of all time on the Internet Movie Database and ask, "Do you suppose somehow the ballot box got stuffed by 'Simpsons' fans who didn't even need to see the movie to know it was a masterpiece? D'oh!" Likewise, readers of your own Web site on the morning of the film's release already gave it a four-star rating. Don't you think these are merely fans of the movie showing their contempt for you and all other reviewers, and in fact for any but their own opinions?
Q. I've just read your review for "Sunshine" (2007), and I'm confused. You say that according to Isaac Asimov, the human body can survive in the cold vacuum of space for longer than I might think. I was under the impression that, in space, a naked human would initially freeze to death, and then summarily explode.
Q. After reading your review of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," I note that you are the only critic I know of who feels that the increasing darkness of the series is a barrier, as opposed to a credit, to the series. I wonder, do you feel that a lot of critics' enthusiasm for "darkness" and "realism" in today's fantasy filmmaking is misplaced? Do you yearn for more innocence and joy in films where it is clearly an asset and not a liability?
Q. I noticed that several times you referred to the good Transformers as "Transformers" and not as Autobots. In the movie, Optimus Prime tells Sam that he can call his group the Autobots for short. Both the Decepticons and the Autobots are Transformers and of the same race, but over time, as Optimus describes it, a struggle for power ensued and peace was shattered. I just wanted to clear this up for you.
Q. I got a chuckle out of the Movie Glossary entry titled "The Walk." This shot, of the characters lined up and walking meaningfully toward the camera, became so hackneyed it was used three times in each and every episode of the reality TV game show "Fear Factor."
Q: I disagree with your contention that, after having seen all 100 movies on the American Film Institute's "greatest" list, one would no longer have the desire to see a Dead Teenager Movie. Such a statement does a disservice to the ranks of dedicated horror fans and critics who could intelligently construct arguments for why many of these movies are quite worthwhile. There is a baseness to them, certainly, but horror's essential function is base -- to create a sinister echo in the darkest wells of our psyche.
Q: Ousmane Sembene's "Moolaade" was my favorite film at your Overlooked Festival this year. I was so saddened to hear of his recent death.
Q. Please help before it's too late! There is still time for the producers of the animated movie "Barnyard" to redub the soundtrack. No wonder Americans are becoming known as the world's stupidest people: apparently we don't even know that milk comes from mommies, not daddies. The brain trust behind this movie spent a fortune to animate "cows" with very prominent udders -- all of which are dubbed with MALE VOICES. Oh, the horror. Eva Sandor, Chicago
Dear Readers,I've received so many messages about my review of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" that, frankly, I don't see how the Answer Man can process them. I could print a dozen or a hundred, but that would lead us into an endless loop.