Firstly, we were I think flying BA to Bangkok the way out, then QANTAS on the other three flights (->Sydney, Sydney->Singapore->London). They were all well equipped with films, but the last leg was on an Airbus, which took it to ridiculous extremes. Yes, we will have two more from the current range, and four more from the 'Encore' range, and oh how about a new category called Oscar-Bait* with 95 films, including basically every classy English-language film of the last decade? I made a list of about a dozen films that I'd like to be seeing from the shorter menu - in a way I'd quite like to just spend 48 hours of a holiday watching films I've missed and occasionally being fed, were it not for the fact that the jetlag would kill me boom dead.
*name may not be accurate, but Oscar was definitely in there.
On the way out:
Madagascar 3, as previously mentioned.
[Men In Black 3]Men In Black 3, from a series which could probably coast on the genial interaction of Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith for a while - though I'm not sure that I saw MIB 2, so I might be wrong there. Anyway, this is basically formed around a genius bit of casting - an old enemy pops back to 1969 and kills Jones's Agent K, so Smith's Agent J also takes the trip back to before the murder and meets the young K, played by Jones's No Country for Old Men co-star Josh Brolin. Brolin's impersonation is pretty good, and the story rolls on with the same beats as you'd expect (including stereotypical reaction to a black man in a sharp suit and a sharper car in 1969). There's a chase or two, some shooting, and a lovely turn as Emma Thompson as the new head of the service post Rip Torn - though the new history of her and K having A Thing in the past does kind of take the shine off the high point of the original MIB.
[Ponyo]Ponyo, the latest from Hayao Miyasaki (so,
On the way back:
Avengers & "Only the Joker scenes of" The Dark Knight (IE about 85% of it in the end): these are obviously both great at what they're doing - an interesting comparison of the "Ahaha it is my plan to be captured do you see" where, for all his later protestations of "Do I really look like a guy with a plan?", it's the Joker that has clockwork in motion, and Loki who is basically just turning up to throw rocks at the spinning plates. It is an awful shame though that we won't get Batman 6: Ah Heck With It, Here's Another 90 Minutes Of The Joker.
[Captain America, the First Avenger]Captain America, which was the only pre-Avengers film that I missed. I sort of meant to see it, but basically I reckoned I had the basics - skinny kid, Super Soldier serum, punching Hitler, probably something to do with the Red Skull. They were unlikely to decide that his parents were spies or that he was a clone, for example (though I've just remembered that the new Spiderman movie did go for that first one). And sure enough when he appeared in the Avengers, he worked pretty well by himself - the only thing I wouldn't have expected was a pre-existing connection to the Cosmic Cube, and they cleared that up pretty well.
As a side note, I really hadn't considered how much Chris Evans actually brings to the job until I watched some of the Avengers without sound over on someone else's screen on the flight over, and was wondering "why are these superheroes listening to the galoot with the head-cap?".
So, anyway, for an entirely inessential film, this was a lot of fun. It's pretty funny in a lot of places, including at least 15-minutes about Captain America's first post-serum job, appearing as propaganda to sell more war bonds. Also let's hear it for the stunt casting!
- Toby Jones as Arnim Zola, world's most put-upon Nazi genius
- Tommy Lee Jones (again) as Tough Gruff General
- Dominic Cooper as Leonardo DiCaprio as Tony Stark('s dad)
- Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, the human-hating head of Hydra
- hilarious sfx as Chris Evans's weakling lower body
- Stanley Tucci as Doktor Erskine: "Yes I am a German, but I am not one of those Germans that idolises physical perfection, you have me entirely wrong there. I value strength, and will, and around these we will build physical perfection - oh what is everyone staring at me like that for now?"
- New Doctor's companion Jenna-Louise Coleman as the blind date
30 minutes of Bernie - there is not in general a Richard Linklater film that I don't want to see, but possibly not the ideal venue for a gentle comedy about murder in Texas.
20 minutes of The Master - also not the right venue, but I think re-engaging with this will involve walking into a showing when it's 20 minutes in rather than be hit in the face repeatedly by the incisive characterisation that Joaquin Phoenix's character is possibly a little obsessed with sex.
[Total Recall]Total Recall: God this is terrible though. I spent more of the film than I expected sitting through the moderately entertaining action and chase setpieces, appreciating the admittedly fine world design, waiting for the stuff from the trailer to finish and the film to start. Shockingly the arrival of Bill Nighy is a trend for the worse, as he talks wee Colin Farrell through the basics of "Dude did you ever consider that our version of reality is based on what you can remember?" - this shortly after they have actually brought to the front and disposed of the actual "is this real?" ambiguity in the plot. I have to confess that I've not seen the original of this - of the three great Verhoeven movies that are getting remakes, I have only seen Starship Troopers, not the original of this or Robocop. I should probably fix that, huh?