International flights might be long and arduous, but if you’re travelling with a decent airline, at least you’ll always get to see the latest movies. We had a fantastic experience with Singapore Airlines on our trip to Hong Kong – everything was great, including the surprisingly decent food (ice-creams!), the attentive service (more drinks!), and how we both managed to sleep during the flight (unusual!) – but it was like a dream-come-true for Jenny, the movie buff.
I don’t think it was by design, but the people that did the in-flight entertainment magazine must have seen that a lot of the recent releases seemed to involve time in some manner, so they made it into their theme for the month hence the several flicks featuring either a temporally-inspired name or plot device.
Here’s a bunch of brief reviews for the ones that I watched – counting in both directions. Jenny watched a few different movies and even managed to squeeze in one more than me (she watched Terminator Salvation, Julie & Julia, and My Sister’s Keeper instead of Museum and Pelham). Yeah, we watched a lot of movies :-)
The Time Traveler’s Wife
It was always going to be difficult to film this one. Not only because of the huge number of fans created by the success of the novel, large portions of which you’re likely to piss off not matter what direction you take, but also because of the cerebral nature of the time-travel plot device, which requires more than a visual cue here and there to pull off. When the main character age is denoted by his haircut, you know that the screenplay writers have given up trying.
Still, they managed to hit most of the major marks of the novel. Claire and Henry are capably played, although it won’t likely win any awards for Rachel McAdams or Eric Bana. The writers understandably omitted the sub-plot with Henry’s suicidal ex-girlfriend, and also, thankfully, the wacky rebound relationship between Claire and Gomez at the end. I’m also somewhat surprised at Hollywood’s restraint, since there is nary a naughty bit to be seen, despite the frequent erotic sections in Niffenegger’s text.
I still have no idea what all the hoo-ha was about with the movie’s release being delayed by almost a year, but now that it’s out, go see it. It’s not all that bad.
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time
I missed this one at some kind of anime film festival last year, and have been looking for it on DVD since, so I was delighted to see this on the playlist on the flight. The story, albeit with a typically wacky Japanese twist at the end, tells of Makoto, a girl who inadvertently gains the ability to travel backwards through time. She uses this ability to avoid or undo all the bad things that happen to her, only to learn a hard lesson about consequences.
It’s very warmly drawn and animated, with realistic characters and emotions taking centre stage ahead of the plot device. I feel that this is kinda the movie that Time Traveler’s Wife should have been, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This was easily my favourite movie of the lot.
Night at the Museum 2: Battle for the Smithsonian
This one didn’t have much to do with time, unless by a stretch of the imagination you count how the exhibits only come alive at night. It’s a sequel in the pure Hollywood sense of the word: bigger cast, bigger budget, bigger um… y’know, just bigger. It has exactly the same plot as the first one – set things straight with the rogue exhibits before the night is out and the game is up – but contrived so that it could be set in the Smithsonian.
They didn’t just up the ante on the architecture though, it also calls upon a greater number of cameos from famous people both in the sense of actors as well as historical characters. It gets very silly as it goes along, but is otherwise an enjoyable mindless flick. It probably helped that I was watching it during the equivalent of a very late night by Australian time.
The Taking of Pelham 123
What is it about John Travolta? I’m not a seasoned movie reviewer or anything, so take this with a pinch of salt, but it’s like he overacts in every role that he’s been in recently: look at me! I’m John Travolta! Check out my range of emotions! I’m a great actor!
I didn’t get this movie. The plot didn’t make sense, and at the end when Travolta gets his comeuppance I have no idea why he bothered with the whole thing in the first place, and left me wondering why I’d wasted the previous 90 minutes or so hoping to find out.
500 Days of Summer
Summer is the name of the girl. Ha ha. The rest of the movie is just about as awful as that joke, plucking randomly from the timeline of the relationship between the hapless main character, Tom, and the bizarre eponymous love interest played by Zooey Deschanel.
I get the feeling that I’m missing out on some kind of overarching philosophy about love (having read somewhere about how love usually runs through its full range within the first 500 days or something), but I’m not sure I would agree with it even if I did. It’s jaded in the same way as a lot of “modern” love stories – I’m an old codger at heart and like my love stories to be coherent and have happy endings.
The philosophy wouldn’t be the only thing I missed, having no clue why Summer suddenly shows up married halfway through the movie, although it was probably shown in one of the montages that went far too quickly for my sleep deprived brain to process. Or, it could just be that I forced myself to watch a chick flick and my brain refused to parse it.
Phew. There you go. I’ll be back with more book reviews pretty soon too. The keen beans among you may have noticed that I’ve updated my “currently reading” headline twice recently, meaning two more book reviews are in the pipeline. Ah, if it isn’t work, it’s holidays. Where does one get time to blog? :-)