Leonard Maltin’s 2005 Movie Guide for Pocket PC

Reviewed by: Paul Schneider, PhD, November 2004, send e-mail
Published by: Landware, Inc., go to the web site
Requires: Pocket PC 2002 or 2003, 3.6MB available system memory
MSRP: $19.95 (download)

It’s Friday night and you find yourself wandering the aisles of the local Blockbuster/Hollywood Video or perusing the local movie listings wondering what should I watch tonight? Been there, done that! Or even worse, you find yourself thinking back to that great movie your buddy told you about, but you can't for the life of you remember just what it was called as you continue to blindly peruse the rental isles. If any of these situations sound familiar or you simply like movies, read on as we examine Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide. We reviewed the software on a Dell Axim X5

Leonard Maltin’s 2005 Movie Guide aims to provide you with all the basic tools you need to ensure that your movie going experiences are the best they can be. Leonard Maltin’s 2005 Movie Guide is divided into three core areas: Viewing Guide, Movie Manager and Movie Events. These three features are all wrapped around an intuitive and extremely easy to use interface. Among other things, the interface allows you to sort your search results by any of the fields listed. It even allows you to add or remove some of these fields from the listing display. As I was learning to use this program there were a number of times that I thought to myself "it sure would be nice if…" only to discover that what I desired was actually an option staring me right in the face, waiting for my tap!

Leonard Maltin’s 2005 Movie Guide Viewing Guide represents the program’s core. Here you will find access to thousands of movies from both the cinema and TV. Does it have every movie? No, but in a recent trip to Blockbuster I only saw one recent foreign release that I could not find in the database. The product spec sheet states that you will find 7,200 DVD, 7,000 Laserdisc and 14,000 Videocassette listings. Of course, as you can imagine, there is some overlap between these formats. Each movie listing provides a succinct review by Leonard Maltin coupled with all the pertinent details such as the director, year of release, running time, rating, awards received, genre of movie, principle cast list, film rating, and what media it was released on. The greatest thing about this tool is how easy it is to find what you are looking for and then, once you find it, to go off on a tangent and find another movie you didn't even think about.

Leonard Maltin’s 2005 Movie Guide finder tool helps you locate movies in several ways. First, you can start by just entering the title of the movie. As you enter letters, the list of movies that fit your initial entry begin to appear and narrow as you continue to enter the full title. You can locate movies this way by searching either the entire movie database or by looking through popular movies in one or more categories. The “popular movies” section takes the ratings of about a 100 movie buffs and breaks movies up into lists of popular westerns, comedies, sci-fi, etc. This section is particularly helpful for finding a new movie of a certain genre. You can also use the advanced search to specify criteria such as Title, Year, Rating (min or max), Genre, Stars, Directors, Awards, and more. If you can't find what you are looking for after that, you need more help than a computer can offer!

When reading a review you can also easily get a list of all the other movies credited to the director and cast. I found myself playing a bit of 6 degrees of separation-type game, looking for all the different movies that someone worked on and then finding myself moving off on another tangent with a new director or actor. Best of all, this kind of exploration is easy to do and accomplished with a minimal number of taps.

Okay, so you find yourself searching through various movies and then you come across one you would like to see, but simply don't have the time to watch at the moment. Worry not! With the Record button you can add the movie title to “My Movies.” The Movie Manager/My Movies section helps you to manage, among other things, your own movie collection and a list of movies you would like to see. From the Movie Manager you can make a list of your favorite movies, your personal top 20, a list of movies you've recorded, ones you want to buy or ones you want to rent. And if that isn't enough you can create your own categories too. The individual database records store just about everything you could want to know about the entry and allows you to modify and change the data as well.

The Movie Events feature is a set of calendar events designed to keep you informed about DVD releases, film festivals and movie premiers. Each time you synch your Pocket PC, the lists are updated with the latest information. The calendar information is published by LandWare and although the system does allow you to add additional calendars, I didn't see any indication or links to other calendars that would work with the Guide. Overall, this is a nice feature, but personally, I didn't find it particularly useful. The events are listed accurately, but no additional information about the event is provided beyond the date and title.

Leonard Maltin’s 2005 Movie Guide is what I was looking for. Although you may not agree with Leonard’s movie reviews every time (why did he give Lord of the Rings only 3 to 3 ½ stars?), the program will probably prove to be invaluable for both casual movie viewers and the cinema buffs. The comprehensive database that is updated every time you synch provides an easy and flexible way to find what you want, provide recommendations, and track your own information and wants. Although not particularly robust, the calendars of upcoming events are a nice bonus. Overall, I give Leonard Maltin’s 2005 Movie Guide 3 ½ stars. Recommended.

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