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On Air, in the Air June 11, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Up and Away.

Here’s the usual rundown of the movies I caught on my various flights (that I hadn’t seen in theaters):

Rocky Balboa. This one should fall into the category of “what-you-see-is-what-you-get”. The movie is definitely Sylvester Stallone’s love letter to the franchise that earned him an academy award nomination, and despite having a little too much going on it does manage to build on years’ worth of Rocky’s story to make for a fitting capstone to the series. While a tad predictable, all it takes is for the theme music to begin playing in order to remember why Rocky was a good flick once upon a time.

Wild Hogs. I’m glad I never caught this in theaters (and to think I actually wanted to). Despite a decent cast, the story — and thereby, the comedy — just fall somewhat flat, even for a movie that at face value demands setting low expectations. It does have its moments, and William H. Macy was probably the most hilarious of the bunch, but there’s a whole lot more that could’ve been done with the movie given the people who were involved.

Shooter. Overall, a decent action movie ruined by a thoroughly unsatisfying ending. For the most part, the movie follows the usual genre formula: hero is wrongly accused of crime and must battle against impossible odds to clear his name. Unfortunately, it would appear that the writers decided that was much too predictable and opted to throw in a twist to the story towards the very end. On balance, this a.) makes little sense and b.) destroys whatever sympathy the audience has for the would-be hero. Methinks this is a textbook case of how trying to be different just doesn’t work (either that or the writers themselves had no idea how to give the story some closure). That aside, Mark Wahlberg does manage to offer yet another good performance.

The Astronaut Farmer. Not too bad, mainly because of the solid performance by headliners Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen as well as the way the film was directed. Although the buzz around the movie was that it would make for family friendly viewing, I would think younger audiences would find it a somewhat boring and more sophisticated audiences will find trouble suspending their disbelief. Still, for those who fall in between (or can manage to adopt the mindset of those who would), there’s decent entertainment to be had from this otherwise well-made film.

Marie Antoinette. While not exactly my cup of tea, I must concede that it was quite interesting to watch despite lacking a plot (and perhaps a point). Unsure as I am about the film’s historical accuracy, depicting the much-reviled French Queen as the equivalent of a present-day paparazzi-beseiged celbrity, albeit tied to prevailing cultural norms, does make a lot of sense. Also, while utterly unbelievable as a once-pregnant woman, it turns out that Kirsten Dunst delivers an otherwise remarkable performance and is not at all miscast.

Children of Men. There are two things going for this film: that Alfonso Cuarón directed it and it’s an intriguing (possibly even original) apocalyptic scenario for the human race. The obvious social commentary on immigration is a bit overdrawn, and it is hard to understand how society could become so screwed up owing to the inexplicable infertility of the human race (unless one suspends disbelief — not at all easy to do in the context of the film). Assuming that the ride is more important than the destination it is very entertaining in its own right, though admittedly a smidgen too dark for my taste.

Starter for 10. An exceedingly charming pseudo-romantic comedy cum coming of age film. It’s almost the British equivalent to Loser, but much more interesting and serious. Neither quite as brilliant as About a Boy nor Love Actually (because, let’s face it, those are difficult to top!), it’s nonetheless a movie in the same spirit. It also contains one of the best scenes to make audiences cringe in their seats as I have seen in a long time. I highly recommend this one.



1. Random Travel Notes 4 « BRAIN DRAIN - November 11, 2007

[…] Naturally, I saw the prospect of a cross country flight as a golden opportunity to add yet another entry to my ongoing In-Flight Entertainment missives. I knew, however, that I’d probably get […]

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