I must confess: before writing this column, I had never visited an official movie Web site. Would I find engaging games, contests and fun puzzles? Or just the online equivalent of a movie poster? We'll find out together on this tour of Web sites from the summer's blockbusters. Remember these are not movie reviews; they are Web site reviews. For on-the-mark movie reviews for families, I recommend Movie Mom.
"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines." I just had to say that! Since first published in 1939, Ludwig Bemelmans' classic Madeline books have sold more than ten million copies. While visiting her Web site, don't miss the "Go! Madeline Go!" Shockwave game. Help Madeline race her scooter through the streets of Paris to find Genevieve, her faithful dog. And although Hatty Jones (the nine-year-old who plays Madeline) isn't taking any more email questions, you might enjoy reading her responses to the many questions already posted.
"Mulan" is based on an old Chinese poem. Hear actress Ming Na Wen (the voice of Mulan) narrate the legend that inspired the movie. For fun, you can match wits with Mulan by solving brain twisting puzzles (on the Flower page), but the remainder of the Shockwave games require free registration (kids â€” always get your parents' permission first). Once registered, you can play with Cri-Kee, a virtual cricket pet or battle the Huns.
"The Parent Trap" is the sixth movie retelling the story of "Das Doppelte Lottchen," a German children's book, written by Eric Kastner in 1950. Lindsay Lohan plays the parts of both twins. How did the movie makers create the illusion of two girls? Find out in Movie Magic. Then "peek into Lindsay's Diary to learn what it's like to star in your first movie." Finish up your fun by playing the Parent Trap concentration game. In the third (and hardest level), the pictures trade places if you do not make a three-way match. Ugh!
The year is 1836. The place: old California, under the harsh rule of a Spanish Governor. Meet Alejandro, a petty thief who yearns to be a swashbuckling hero like Zorro. The Mask of Zorro role-playing game is one of the most extensive I've seen. You need to register with your email address, because clues and player communications are sent via email. A 3-D version of the game is also available (requires the Cosmo VRML plug-in). If you looking for a simpler thrill, you can choose to play just the Shockwave arcade games.