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In-Flight Entertainment 4 December 29, 2007

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Up and Away.
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Slim pickings this time around as I’d already seen most of the available movies on the flight (or already have them on DVD):

Stardust. I was never overly fond of the novel (I thought it was so-so, for Gaiman), but having seen the movie I will definitely make time to read it again. Overall the movie is a very well made romp of fantasy, managing to play itself out as a fiary tale that adults will find charming (which, as I understand it, was the filmakers’ intention). There are some misses in the movie, though. For instance, Robert de Niro as Captain Shakespeare is somewhat off (but does manage to get better), and the chase scene toward the end was underplayed. Also, one gets the sense that the writers of the adaptation could never quite decide whether to position the movie as a G- or PG-13 rated affair, eventually opting for the latter. Nonetheless, the movie’s still worth watching, Neil Gaiman fan or no.

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Adam Sandler movies typically follow a simple formula: have an otherwise likeable fellow find himself in a spot of bother, see him become a total and utter jerk, then marvel at how he redeems himself in the end (with the token moral lesson thrown into the mix). Chuck and Larry is no different, with the exception that it tends to make for uncomfortable viewing because of all the in-jokes about homosexuality that are made, some of which border on the offensive (but are necessary to the overall plot). In retrospect, the movie has its moments but on the whole is otherwise forgettable. Having said that, the two highlights that come to mind are Dan Aykroyd and Ving Rhames. Just because.

Shoot ‘Em Up. For a movie with no plot, the barebones of a story, and oodles of gratuitous violence, it’s actually passable. Clive Owen makes for a very convincing all-around killer, especially in a film that’s basically built around making the star strike the cool action pose. Paul Giamatti also shows off his acting chops (which in this case doesn’t seem to have required much effort, considering), though I didn’t much care for Monica Belucci (never have). In all, Shoot ‘Em Up actually reminds me of the premise behind Warren Ellis’s Nextwave series: hypercondense an action film to its barebones and take it to its extreme, and this would be it. Oh, the film also has a fantastic soundtrack (edgy rock music).

Superbad. As the title implies: Super. Bad. I am obvioulsy not the target demographic for this sort of film, but it’s a sad world we live in that a movie like this gets made. In short, the movie tries to strike a mix somewhere between Dazed and Confused and American Pie, but it’s neither as entertaining as the former nor as funny as the latter. It’s oversexed and otherwise quite pathetic. On the plus side, Michael Cera does outperform everyone else in the film (and how).

The Contract. I never heard of this one, but it was quite entertaining. A fairly decent thriller/chase film pitting Morgan Freeman (surprisingly, the bad guy) against John Cusack (unsurprisingly, the good guy), it’s actually reminiscent of the movie Shooter, even in the sense that it becomes clear that the story has nowhere to go. While the movie won’t keep anyone glued to their seats, the actors deliver solid performances for an action-film-that-isn’t, making the spectacle actually quite entertaining.

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Comments»

1. nylusmilk - December 29, 2007

i watched the movie first before reading the book. i enjoyed the movie better than the book. i think captain shakespeare is hilarious and definitely miles more entertaining than the one originally written in the book. that said, the book is still pretty good; there’s a good dose of realism for an adult fairy tale.

2. Brian L. Belen - December 29, 2007

Agreed. I think my real quarm with de Niro-as-Shakespeare is seeing him onscreen that first time and then hearing his hard-edged New York accent. ‘Twas out of place. But towards the end it worked quite well. I’m curious to find out which scenes were shot first (I suspect that had something to do with it).


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