Thursday, 27 October 2011

In-flight movies

The one advantage of long-haul transatlantic flights with KLM was the very impressive range of films available for in-flight entertainment. Of course, this is tempered by having to watch them on a screen slightly less impressive than this laptop, and having to press the naff earphones into my skull to hear much over the noise of the 747. Before I give any more excuses for these briefest of reviews, this is what I watched.

Green Lantern (2011)

One of the main selling points of Green Lantern was the special effects, and given that I was watching on a tiny screen, they were lost on me. This meant that I could concentrate on mundane things such as acting, script, and character development (so old school!). I thought Ryan Reynolds was both bored and boring, he was a bit of a cocky Maverick type initially (his first 20 min of the film was essentially Top Gun, but nowhere near as good), acted like he couldn't care less when he went to Oa, and I don't really feel that he became humble or redeemed himself by the end (despite defeating Megamind Parallax). I thought Mark Strong was completely wasted, and Peter Sarsgaard's character was just plain weird/rubbish. I realise that this "origin" kind of film required a lot of exposition, but I think it could have been done so much better; and given that the Green Lantern can summon anything he can imagine, I thought the film really lacked imagination.

Rango (2011)

This was really quite fun; quirky story, excellent animation, really good voice actors. I felt that the actors would be obvious and over the top as they can sometimes be in animations, (I was worried about Johnny Depp in particular), but they weren't. Rather than model the characters on the actor, I felt the actors really tried to fit the characters, which is how it should be really. In addition to the animation being first class, the use of high contrast in the desert, and the use of shadows indoors gave it a very different feeling to most of Pixar/Dreamworks offerings; it felt more gritty and somehow more real. Perhaps this is because Roger Deakins was a visual consultant on the film, and also having ILM do the animation probably helped. The music by Hans Zimmer was pretty cool too. A very enjoyable animated adventure from Gore Verbinski.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Director George Nolfi's first film is an interesting take on the idea that we don't have free will, and that our lives are predetermined. Matt Damon is running to be elected as the mayor of  New York, when he meets dancer Elise (Emily Blunt). They get on really well, but they are not destined to be together. There is an organisation whose job it is to make sure that everything in the world proceeds according to plan, and Matt Damon's career is far to important to be distracted by Elise. The organisation is the Adjustment Bureau, and via some high-tech gizmos, as well as the ability to open doors (literally) to anywhere, they set about adjusting the world (well New York anyway) so that humans don't destroy themselves. Matt Damon is alright, as is Emily Blunt; far more interesting were John Slattery and Terence Stamp as members of the Bureau. The film was very interesting and had a very Matrixy feel to it. Of course it was rather the wrong kind of film to watch on the plane as there was a lot of dialogue that was difficult to hear. It will definitely be going on my LoveFilm list though.

Battle Los Angeles (2011)

I started watching this because I couldn't get to sleep, and I thought it might help! Unfortunately it was better than I expected and I didn't fall asleep at all. If I was grading it in Hogwarts I would definitely give it an EE; it exceeds expectations. Aliens are landing all over the world and the film follows a squad of marines in Los Angeles as they attempt to resist the invasion. Aaron Eckhart is an unlikely hero, but he does well enough, Michelle Rodriguez is probably the other most interesting character, but this is hardly a character driven film. Director Jonathan Liebesman has made an okay action movie, probably because he chose to position the camera very close to the marines to give it an almost documentary feel that is very reminiscent of Black Hawk Down. The aliens are pretty cool as well. Not as bad as expected, but hardly a great movie.