Thursday, November 22, 2007

Holiday Viewing

So I got the chance to watch a few movies on the plane while I was away. I'm pretty slack at getting my arse to the actual theatre nowadays so it was good to catch up on a few recent releases that I'd missed.

At the top of the list of movies I'm annoyed at myself for missing was Stardust, based on Neil Gaiman's novel. I loved the book, but adaptations of this type rarely go well and the reviews had been lacklustre so my expectations were low. Fortunately it turned out to pretty damn good. While the movie feels free to deviate wildly from the plot of its source material, it faithfully retains the fairy tale spirit and Gaiman's unique style and mood. Plus it features some stunning visuals, proving that expensive CGI can still look good in the right hands, something I'd begun to doubt in this age of overrendered Spidermans and Fantastic Fours. My only criticism would be Claire Danes, who I found quite annoying and who also managed to be out-foxed by the almost fifty year old Michelle Pfeiffer.

Next I finally got to watch
The Simpsons Movie. As much as I loved the show in its heyday, it's recent deterioration left me without much compulsion to catch the big screen version. I'm not sorry I saw it, thankfully it isn't the worthless mockery of a once great comedy that I feared, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it. Sure it's worth a few laughs, particularly near the beginning but despite all the winks and nods to fans there's no denying that the writers lost their spirit a long time ago. Plus, I can't believe they killed Dr. Nick for no reason! Why choose to off one of their best characters (and one that has been around since nearly the beginning), and not one of the lame later additions that have mysteriously hung round for years (Like the “yeeeesss” guy. Does anyone think that shit is funny?)

Next I gave Knocked Up a try. Freaks and Geeks gives Buffy a run for its money as the best thing ever to appear on television, and Judd Apatow has made a decent career in Hollywood following the demise of that show so I had high expectations for his new(ish) film. Nevertheless, I couldn't make it through half an hour of this movie. My hatred for the characters (all of them, I couldn't decide if I loathed the snobby rich girls or the gross slobby guys more) grew so extreme that I had to calm down by watching Transformers. The gentle sounds of explosions and cheesy generic rock soundtracks washed away my misanthropic anger and sent me off to sleep before the movie was half over.

Later on I ended up watching Daywatch, an almost incomprehensible Russian sci-fi movie. Despite the ridiculous plot and overwrought acting I neither fell asleep nor turned it off in disgust before the end so on some level at least it must count as a success.

I also caught 28 Days Later and its sequel 28 Weeks Later. The first film was a perfect example of someone taking a timeworn genre (in this case the zombie film featuring political allegory) and creating something completely new from it without deviating from the established trappings of the style. I loved the first both as an action film and for its unpleasant but affecting insights into human nature. The next film was still quite watchable but lacked all the things that made the first film so good, despite the addition of many scenes of famous parts of London getting blown up and/or attacked by zombies.

Unfortunately my nineteen hour flight back to Australia was movieless, thanks to Qantas' shitty entertainment system being on the blink the whole time. At least that meant that I got through half of Moby Dick.


Joel said...

The yesssss guy in The Simpsons I found pretty funny, but partly because of the mockery it was making of a real person, and also because I was drunk or otherwise inebriated when I first saw an episode with him in it.

I mostly loved Stardust, but there were a couple of silly moments at the end that tarnished it for me.

Did you ever see Night Watch (prequel to Day Watch).. I really liked it, MUCH more than the majority of vampire movies at least.

Jon said...

No, I never saw Night Watch. Day Watch was nonsense but not so bad that I wouldn't watch the prequel if you say it's good.