Movie round-up: September 2010 edition

I only wish that I travelled often enough to make a habit out of this; here’s another round-up of the movies that I watched on the plane on a recent holiday to Europe:

How To Train Your DragonHow To Train Your Dragon
I loved this movie! It’s got a smart script, well constructed plot, an appealing character design and style (it’s my cup of tea, anyway) and dragons. What more could you want?

Hiccup is a viking chief’s son, living in a village that is constantly attacked and raided by dragons, their worst enemy. Unlike the other vikings however, Hiccup is a scrawny boy with more brains than brawn. One day he manages to injure a young Night Fury dragons with one of his inventions, and going for the kill, decides to show it mercy instead. This leads to a cautious relationship between the two, which leads to a greater discovery which has implications for  both sides.

Obviously I didn’t get to watch this in 3D like it would’ve been in the cinemas, but it’s obvious that certain scenes (especially the flying sequences) were created specifically for it. Regardless, it was still quite exhilarating.

Nanny McPhee and the Big BangNanny McPhee and the Big Bang
The sequel lives up to the charm and warmth of the first, with a perfectly cast roster of comic stereotypes, given a lively and funny script. Emma Thompson returns as the crooked-nosed, gap-toothed, wart-covered witch, who takes it upon herself to help out the mother of a family of brats. In this instance, the mother is the always delightful Maggie Gyllenhaal, farm wife and mother of 3 kids during a time where her husband has been called away to war. Add to the mix a couple of cousins from the city, spoilt and pompous, who’ve never had to do a hard days’ work in their life.

Through the course of the movie, scenarios appear where the children must learn five lessons: to stop fighting, to share, to work together, to be brave and to have faith. As per the original, each time the kids succeed in learning one of the lessons, one of McPhee’s facial blemishes disappears.

It’s a quintessential children’s film, with poo and fart jokes, baby animals, and old-school morality, and has both feet firmly planted in the traditional Disney style (think modern-day Mary Poppins), so don’t expect savvy street smarts and in-jokes for adults.

The Girl With The Dragon TattooThe Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
I haven’t read the book, and now probably don’t need to. The movie portrays a fairly engrossing murder mystery, telling how framed and disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired by ex-CEO of Vanger Enterprises, Henrik Vanger, to help determine the fate of his great-niece Harriet, who disappeared 40 years ago.

The controversy with this movie (and the book, I’m guessing) is its graphic depiction of violence against women. The original Swedish title of the book, translated, means “Men Who Hate Women” and although the plot ostensibly seems to speak out against sex crimes, the character of Lisbeth Salander – genius hacker and goth nutcase – seemed to me to contradict that. I still can’t fathom why, having witnessed her mother being physically abused by her father, being abused and raped herself, and being portrayed as being lesbian in one scene, she still manages to have a sexual desire (I wouldn’t call it love) for Mikael.

Dunno. Just from seeing this movie, I’m not seeing where the “phenomenon” of Stieg Larsson comes from, except maybe from a pent up desire by society to see the hidden forms of violence against women unmasked. What are your thoughts?

The Last AirbenderThe Last Airbender
I only really watched this out of desperation, due my inability to sleep on the plane and also because I was suffering badly from diarrhoea caused by something dodgy that I’d eaten during a brief stay in Hong Kong, and needed distraction.

Other than an early trailer, I hadn’t seen or heard anything about this movie except that it didn’t really live up to peoples’ expectations. Let’s just say that I had no expectations, and it didn’t even live up to that. The script was unrelentingly clichéd right from the start, and the acting little better – particularly Noah Ringer as Aang, the eponymous boy monk who has the ability to do tricky things with air. I’m not familiar with the source material, but I can imagine that fans would be cringing at this effort.

Be warned: the movie is “Part 1” and leaves an entirely unsatisfactory feeling at its conclusion (if only because the poor takings from this first instalment will probably mean that the conclusion won’t be bankrolled).

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The number of kids’ movies on my playlist partly reflects my childish tastes, but also the meagre September offerings. It included the excellent Kick-Ass and Date Night, both of which I greatly enjoyed, but I’m not the type that watches movies more than once if I can help it. The other recent release titles within my favourite genres were Clash of the Titans, and The A-Team, neither of which appealed at all.

One comment

  1. I haven’t seen the other films but with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the book is heaps better!!! It’s far more layered, and the character of Lisbeth is more complex and and multi-faceted than the movie portrays. Also, the Swedish versions of the films were made for TV and not cinema, so it has that TV-mystery quality about it.

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