Giveaway: ‘Once Upon a Time’ Season One Set

Who else is looking forward to the enchantment of the next season of Once Upon a Time?

I know my daughter and I are.

The show stars Jennifer Goodwyn as a Snow White cursed to forget her identity and true love. Along with the whole universe of fairy tale characters, she is doomed to live in the real world with no idea who she really is. That is until Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison) comes into town. Season two starts off September 30 on ABC.

My tween daughter and I never missed an episode of the first season. We loved the familiar stories retold in fresh, unexpected ways. Even more, we loved the rich and moral themes woven throughout.

If you missed the first season, or if you want to revisit it, now’s your chance. The fairy godmothers over at ABC are giving away four complete sets of the first season to our readers in high quality Blu-Ray.

Bippedy Boppidy Boo!

Just leave a comment below to enter to win. When you enter, we’ll also sign you up for our soon to be launched Movie Channel newsletter. If you’d rather not, just let us know. One entry per household. The contest will close and winners will be selected September 14.

Home Viewing: Chronicle

Bottom Line: A fresh and insightful take on the superhero idea, this movie is not only excellent, but a lot of fun.

The Gist: Three teen boys are changed by a mysterious rock and begin to develop superpowers. They do what teen boys do: Sports, but superenhanced. Girls, but with new ways of impressing them. And acting out against authority, which has a new dimension. Something that starts out fun, almost a lark, becomes deadly serious as each young man must decide if the powers make him a hero or a villain. Read our full review.

The Verdict: Absolutely watch it (but see caveat below). This is one of the best movies of 2012 so far.

Be Aware: Rated PG-13, the film has some language and intense action. Teen drinking is shown and not necessarily as a bad thing. Also shown, but not graphically, is the attempt of a teen character to lose his virginity. This is considered a good thing in the movie. Unfortunately, it may rule out an otherwise outstanding film for some families. (Or could be a reason to use the ff button on the remote.)

Home Viewing: The Grey

Bottom Line: A tense, suspenseful walk through wolf-infested Alaska that doubles as a philosophical metaphor for life and death, the film isn’t perfect but is good.

The Gist: A plane full of burly, tough oil field workers crashes in remote Alaska. Not only do they have to find a way out, but they have landed in the territory of burly, tough wolves. Liam Neeson stars as the leader of the pack, the human pack.

The Verdict: Watch it. What we say we believe in the comfort of our lives changes drasitcally when facing death. Men wrestle with wolves, but metaphorically, they’re wrestling with mortality, love, and God. Liam Nesson is fantastic. Some of the scenes are a bit unbelievable. The special effects are minimal, but director Joe Carnahan uses them to good effect. Read our review and interview with Carnahan.

Be Aware: Rated R, the film has intense, gory violence and men who talk like, well, Alaskan oil field workers.

Home Viewing: Haywire

Bottom Line: With real Gladiator punches and mixed marital arts kicks, this is a heavy-duty action movie.

The Gist: Gina Carano is a real-life mixed martial arts fighter, so when Steven Sodebergh cast her in an action movie, she was ready. She plays a operative for hire (but only to good guys) whose business partners decide they’ve had enough of her, um, services. Suddenly, she’s fighting her former colleagues. The plot, however, isn’t as important as the serious, serious fight sequences.

The Verdict: Watch it if you like action. It’s very good, very tough. Read our full review and our appreciation for Gina Carano as a female action star (hint: She doesn’t look like she’s going to snap a twiggy limb when she hits someone).

Be Aware: Rated R, the film has one sex scene, not particularly graphic, some language, and a whole lotta violence.

Home Viewing: Joyful Noise

Bottom Line: Some nice gospel music and a sweet story make it good, but a heaping of corn and a mediocre script keep it from being excellent.

The Gist: Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton are in the same church choir. Both want to lead it. Plus, Queen’s daughter wants to date Dolly’s grandson. All this and the big choir competition is coming.

The Verdict: Watch it. A story with some good gospel and friendly to faith is refreshing, even if it won’t win any Oscars. Read our full review.

Be Aware: The film is rated PG-13 for some profanity and several references to a choir member sleeping with a fellow singer that leads to his untimely death. There are only a few brief references to this situation but this silly and out-of-place storyline isn’t enough to diminish the film’s positive message and its great musical moments.

Home Viewing: New Years Eve

Bottom Line: So bad it might just take a year off your life.

The Gist: In New York on New Year’s Eve, different people have different problems. One is a terminally ill patient, another a mother racing to have the New Years Eve baby. A secretary feels she has missed out on life while a single mom misses love. Everybody’s got somewhere to be or someone to meet and darned if it doesn’t all get done by midnight.

The Verdict: Skip it. Sometimes auld acquaintance should be forgot. Read our full review.

Be Aware: Rated PG-13 for some language and sexual references.

Home Viewing: Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol

Bottom Line: Fast action that will make your palms sweat and witty cracks more than make up for any depth this film lacks. Depth? Who needs it.

The Gist: Ethan Hunt, super secret super spy, comes back from a Russian prison after his wife’s death. He’s not happy. When he’s not happy, a whole lot of bad guys pay. Read our full review.

The Verdict: Watch it. It’s better on a big screen, but it’s too much mindless fun to pass up.

Be Aware: Rated PG-13 for action. There’s some mild sexiness, but no sex scenes (although one that seems like it’s headed that direction changes before anyone gets busy.) Mild language.

Home Viewing: The Iron Lady

Bottom Line: As much about aging as it is about Margaret Thatcher, the movie is beautifully acted and powefully done, but potentially disappointing to conservatives and liberals alike in its refusal to take sides.

The Gist: In her dotage, the former powerful Prime Minister of England, Margaret Thatcher (Meryl Streep) looks back on her career and family as she struggles against dementia.

The Verdict: Watch it. Streep’s Oscar-winning performance, if nothing else, makes the time worthwhile. The focus on aging lends poignancy and humanity to its subject, but also takes time from important events in Thatcher’s life. Thatcher shines through, unwavering confidence and relentless conservatism. Maggie for President 2016! Read our full review.

Be Aware: Rated PG-13 for some violent imagery (of war and riots, often actual footage) and a lightning-quick shot of female upper nudity (not Thatcher’s). Absolutely appropriate for teens and older tweens.

Just for Fun: Check out our list of top Thatcher quotes in the movie.

Home Viewing: We Bought a Zoo

Bottom Line: A gentle, sweet, and enjoyable family film is less about slapstick humor and more about finding a way to move forward together.

The Gist: When Benjamin (Matt Damon) finds his two children floundering after the loss of his beloved wife, he makes drastic changes. He moves them from their suburban home to a house on a small zoo, home to an impressive array of animals and an eccentric array of employees. While they tend to their furry friends, they find they can begin to heal the hole in their hearts.

The Verdict: Watch it. This is a family film in the sense of a movie you watch together that everyone will love, from grandma to the little kids, not in the sense of a wisecracking animation you put on to keep the kids quiet for a while. Tender, sweet, and ultimately triumphant, the story isn’t about the animals so much as about the people who care for them. Read our full review.

Be Aware: Rated PG for light language and thematic elements, by which they mean the theme of loss and death. There are some very sad scenes, but ultimately the movie is hopeful.

Home Viewing: War Horse

Bottom Line: Too long and too horsey, this movie will please only the most equine among us.

The Gist: A boy named Albert and a horse named Joey forge a bond in a turnip field that will last through the trenches of World War I. As Joey finds himself repeatedly crossing fronts and being drafted into opposing sides, he becomes a lens and a symbol of the horrific cost of war on people, on the land, and on animals.

The Verdict: Mixed. Nobody does battle scenes like director Steven Spielberg and this film is no exception. There are some fantastic sequences that are quite moving. I did not, however, find the same feeling in the movie as a whole. If you’re an animal lover, you might be very moved by this story. I found myself not able to believe in the great bond of horse and boy that is the core of the movie. Without that, the movie seems quite silly and certainly too long. Read our full review.

Be Aware: The movie is rated PG-13. Most violence is implied rather than shown, but the themes of war and loss are heavy. Acceptable for older children. No sexuality or language.