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In-Flight Entertainment 11 June 14, 2009

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Reviews, Up and Away.
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Since the start of the year, hadn’t really a chance to catch a movie in theaters — there was the wedding, then the honeymoon, then having to prepare for the summer trip — so this time around there were lots of films I could’ve caught on the plane that I hadn’t seen yet. But I decided instead to just catch the few that I did want to see, partly because I wanted to catch up on my sleep and partly because I ended up distracted by a couple of video games:

Bolt. Quite fun, but not nearly as fun as Meet the Robinsons. I loved the whole “the dog doesn’t realize it’s not real” concept, which I wish had been played up more in the film. Still, it’s nice to see that Disney is beginning to put together rather decent CGI films under its own label, even if they benefit from shared resources (the senior management, if not creative pool) with Pixar. The only other thing I’ll say about the film is that I’ll never look at styrofoam the same way again. Nor at hamsters.

Frost/Nixon. Now this was some kind of wow. It wasn’t just the fact that it was a political film that drew me into this one; really, I think the appeal is that it’s based on a real set of interviews (which I never knew about, so there was that added novelty for me, too). To my mind, for a film like this everything was flawless: the script, the cinematography, and the cast. Especially the cast. Michael Sheen was a coup because he does resemble a young David Frost. I had heard that Frank Langella was given the role because he played it so well in the stage play, but was skeptical since he looks nothing like Nixon. Yet to see him in the film is astonishing. One moment he portrays Nixon as such a sleazebag that it makes you want to hate him, the next he manages to switch gears and get the audience to empathize with a man who happened to be way in over his head. Powerful, compelling stuff.

Slumdog Millionaire. So everyone rooted for it at the Oscars. Heck, I did too even if I hadn’t seen it yet. Now that I have, I think it deserves its acclaim — but I also think it got away with a lot. The long and the short of it is that it’s quite the charmer. Ultimately, the plot is rather thin and the story itself is chock full of sterotypes, clichés and all-too-convenient coincidences. But it’ll charm the heck out of you and you won’t even realize it until you find yourself rooting — and I mean really rooting — for Jamal. On a side note: the dance sequence as the credits roll is awesome.

Watchmen. I never did “get” the comic book — it just didn’t resonate with me — so you couldn’t count me among those who could not contain their excitement at the mere thought that this movie would come out. So what’s there for me to say about the film? It is indeed as faithful as it could be to the source material, but to my mind just validates why it didn’t strike a chord with me (although in the interests of fair disclosure, I should also point out that I’m none too fond of Alan Moore’s work in general, anyway — let’s just say we’re on different wavelengths). Would anyone who hadn’t read the comic have a compelling reason to go see it? I think not. I will say that the costume designs (especially Night Owl II’s) impressed me a lot, as did the action sequences, though they would have been more engaging to watch had they been slowed down just a tad.

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