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In-Flight Entertainment 3 September 2, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Up and Away.
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I seem to be going on a tear turning some of my posts into ongoing series. Along that vein, here’re the movies that occupied my attention between Manila and New York:

Spider-Man 3. It’s hard to believe I didn’t catch this in theaters, but I did miss it. The long and the short of it is that I liked it. It definitely wasn’t as good as the prior two installments, but for what it was it has plenty of entertainment value. At the very least, it’s clear that Sam Raimi and company exerted effort not to sell out (too much) by just cashing in on another big-budget highly anticipated sequel (yeah, I’m looking at you Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean trilogies!). My main complaints are really two-fold. First, because so many elements were packed into the story, the villains just weren’t developed as much as in prior films, so much so that the Sandman’s curtain call at the end — by far my favorite scene because Thomas Haden Church really hit it out of the park — wasn’t as powerful as it ought to have been. Second, the movie ends on an overly somber note rather than an exciting and upbeat one compared to the others. For all that, however, it’s a great Spider-Man story, especially coming from the two that preceded it.

Shrek the Third. I’ve never been taken by Shrek, nor have completely understood why loads of people look upon the franchise with much fondness. My take has always been that Shrek never lives up to its potential: it’s well-animated, but not overly so; it’s funny, but never really, really funny (though I will concede that Shrek 2 was pretty amusing). By those benchmarks, this sequel was just par for the course. At best, it did have perhaps the most “complete” story elements that a plot involving such characters calls for: allowing fairy tale antagonists the opportunity to revolt together in order to achieve their desired happy endings just makes so much sense. Still, it’s really just another Shrek movie; that is to say, Pixar it sure ain’t.

Blades of Glory. Aha. Another Will Ferrell movie. Okay, I’ll admit: I was interested in watching this movie based on its ridiculous trailers, and in many ways it did not disappoint. There’s no doubt that it’s very shallow, but the train wreck of a male pairs figure skating team truly demands attention. It’s just so wrong…yet because it sort of makes sense, also so right! It would also seem that Ben Stiller was involved in this project, which perhaps explains why it wasn’t quite as bad as, say, Talladega Nights.

Hot Fuzz. Bloody awesome! Now this one just works on so many levels. Unless I got my signals crossed, the publicity behind the film gave me the impression that it was supposed to be a comedy/parody/satire of the detective-cum-action hero sterotype. That it was; yet it’s also able to stand on its own as a viable action movie. I think there’s something about the understatedness of British culture that makes story shine. Now I understand why a lot of people rave about Shaun of the Dead, which the same creative team put together (and which I obviously haven’t seen yet because, let’s face it, I do live under a rock).

Fracture. In a word? Brilliant. It’s a pretty straightforward proposition: a man is put on trial for murdering his wife, while a prosecutor tries to put keep him from getting away with what more and more appears to be the perfect crime. As implemented, however, this one can’t be filed under “been there, done that” because it’s thoroughly engrossing. What initially put me off about this film, based on its trailers, was the idea of Anthony Hopkins playing another Hannibal Lecter-type character; yet the truth is that he does it exceedingly well. In addition, Ryan Gosling delivers a classy performance that is equal to if not better than that of his esteemed co-star, making for one heck of a show. In short, this one is well worth watching, pulling the right strings and touching the right nerves up until the very end.

[Previous In-Flight Entertainment Entries: 0, 1, 2]

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