“I want to see that. I want to see that,” Benjamin said recently at a showing of “Epic,” the story of a girl who shrinks and discovers a new world in the forest. He was pointing to several posters in the theater lobby, such as the one for “Turbo,” about a snail that dreams of competing in the Indy 500, and “Monsters University,” the prequel (the story takes place before the first movie, “Monsters, Inc.”) about Sulley and Mike in scare school.
Benjamin, a second-grader at Kent Gardens Elementary School in McLean, goes to the movies once or twice a month. He also watches movies at home. He likes fictional stories. (That means they’re made up.) He also likes nonfiction, or true stories, such as “Side by Side,” a movie about making movies. He watches movies that are new and old, such as “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” about a woman living in New York City in 1961. The only movies that Benjamin doesn’t like are horror movies. He watches close to 100 movies a year. Last year, he persuaded his mom to let him start writing his own movie review blog, Benjaminsmoviereviews.com. He has reviewed 14 movies so far.
“It’s got to have a good story, good characters, good acting and good directing,” said Benjamin, who started reading when he was 4 years old by sounding out letters in movie posters. (He also loves to read and finishes at least one book a week.)
On his blog, Benjamin gives most of the movies four or five stars out of five. He said he gave three stars to “Escape From the Planet Earth” because the trailer gave away too much of the story.
“The trailer should only tell a little bit of the story,” he said. “Otherwise, it’s kind of annoying when you know what it’s going to be about.” Benjamin loved “Iron Man 3” because it was so surprising, and he also loved Don Cheadle as Colonel James Rhodes. (Benjamin’s mom lets him see some PG-13 movies.)
On his blog, Benjamin gave “Oz: The Great and Powerful” four stars, even though he didn’t like actor James Franco as Oz. “James Franco wasn’t very good,” Benjamin said. “He didn’t act like the character very well. In the beginning of the movie, he was a little bit mean, and he wouldn’t use his magic to help the people.”
It should come as no surprise that Benjamin wants to be a movie critic when he grows up. He has a long list of favorite critics whom he reads: people he finds online with his mother’s permission and writers for grown-up magazines such as Entertainment Weekly and the New Yorker, which comes to his house addressed to him, not his mom.
Every Monday, Benjamin checks a Web site called Imdb.com to find out which new movies are the most popular. (Always ask a parent before going online.) Every Tuesday, he checks online to see which movies have been released on DVD. And every Friday, he searches online to see which movies are about to come out. On his refrigerator is a list of movies that he wants to see once he is old enough, such as “Lincoln,” about the 16th U.S. president, Abraham Lincoln.
Benjamin’s favorite movies of 2012, he said, were “The Hobbit,” “Marvel’s The Avengers” and “Life of Pi.” He said the worst movie he ever saw was “Jack and Jill” with Adam Sandler. “It was horrible because it didn’t have a very good story and the acting was terrible.”
Memorial Day weekend — which happens to be this weekend — is the start of the summer movie season.
“I think all of the summer movies are going to be pretty cool,” Benjamin said. “My favorite one will probably be ‘Monsters University,’ ‘Epic,’ ‘Turbo’ or ‘Despicable Me 2.’ ” “Planes” looks too much like “Cars,” he said, and “the plot looks less good.”
As the movie lights dimmed before “Epic,” Benjamin pumped his fist in excitement. When the lights went back up 102 minutes later, Benjamin had almost finished his huge bucket of popcorn.
“I totally want to see that again!” he said. “The best part was the big battle at the end.
“I thought of an idea for ‘Epic 2,’ ” he continued. “The dad gets shrunk and the bad son comes back.”
Later on his blog, Benjamin gave “Epic” four stars.
— Moira E. McLaughlin