Rio / Red Riding Hood / Source Code

The plan for three films turned into a plan for one. Then two more. Which makes three anyway.


“I am not an ostrich!”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: adopted macaw head to Brazil to discover his heritage and get laid.

I really wanted to avoid this film purely because it’s been used for the last three million years (or so it seems) to advertise Orange phones before every damn film I’ve seen. However, the kids wanted to see it (in preference to Winnie The Pooh and Hop) so off we went on Sunday afternoon. Oh, we saw the 2D version because Little Mister is under 6 and his older sister finds the glasses very uncomfortable. And I can’t bloody stand it.

It’s by the same folk who did the Ice Age movies, and it’s got a similar style of humour. It’s also definitely back on a par with the first of that series after the twee decline they went through. It  is a very bright and colourful movie with plenty of action to keep the youngsters happy although Little Mister didn’t seem quite in the mood to be engaged by it. Elder Sister really liked it.

The story is simple enough. A young macaw is stolen from the forests and finds a home in North America with a young girl (Linda voiced by Leslie Mann) who he grows up with. A Brazilian ornithologist arrives to beg that Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) be taken on a trip back “home” to pair up with the other last remaining macaw to save the species. Jewel (Anne Hathaway) turns out to be a little more of a live spirit and she and Blu end up going through a series of adventures.

The side characters and clever use of visual humour will keep adults interested as the kids giggle at the animated slapstick and ogle the visuals.

Not the best animated film ever, but definitely one that should entertain the sprogs if you have a spare afternoon. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it?

Red Riding Hood

“Grandmother… what big eyes you have.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A small village has been safe from the curse of a werewolf for twenty years when it suddenly strikes once again… but who it is, and what does it want?

This was one of those “we’re intrigued, but the times fit in with when we’re free” films. The two trailers we’d seen led us to think a) crap and b) hum, maybe not so crap. The reviews haven’t been kind, but I’d recommend giving it a chance.

It’s set in the middle ages, in a small insular village called Daggerhorn. Every full moon the villagers put out a sacrifice (goat, pig, whatever) and the local werewolf nabs it rather than killing one of the people. However, twenty years after the last human gets snatched, a local girl is eviscerated and questions start to arise.

The girl’s sister, Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), is the titular Red Riding Hood and central character. It is she who is caught up in the mystery of the identity of the werewolf, a mystery that takes another turn when Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives in town on a personal crusade against all things lycanthrope.

The story then becomes a half decent whodunnit combined with a some soap opera touches as family and relationship secrets are exposed. Friendships are strained, beliefs tested and Oldman overacts as wonderfully as only he knows how.

I think Gillian reckoned this was “OK”. I was quite impressed, largely as I wasn’t expecting much. It did take a little while to get going, but once things started ticking along I was guessing here and there as to who the werewolf was and why they were interested in Valerie. In true Murder, She Wrote style all of these details are revealed when we find out who the rampaging half-wolf is, along with brief flashbacks to the events we didn’t see clearly the first time.

Red Riding Hood won’t win any awards, and likely won’t do too well judging by the ratings I’ve seen so far. Which is a shame, as it’s not as bad as some people are making out. If there’s nothing else on, it’s worth 100 minutes of your time.

Source Code

“Oh boy.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Soldier time-travels (repeatedly) back to a commuter train to find out who blew it up and to prevent a major terrorist bombing.

Along similar lines to the likes of Deja Vu and Quantum Leap, Jake Gyllenhall‘s character Colter Stevens is part of a military-funder operation allowing tweaking with the timelines. The limitation with this expedition is that Stevens can only witness and interact with an alternative reality’s version of the last 8 minutes of his host’s life, taking place during events which have already occurred. Simply put, unlike Sam Beckett, he can’t put right what once went wrong… but he can hopefully collect enough information to prevent an upcoming event of much greater proportions from taking place.

The reviews and comments I’ve seen about Source Code are universally complimentary and a huge number are marvelling at the complicated twists and mystery as to what the “source code” actually is. Frankly, anyone posting comments like that on Twitter has never seen a sci-fi film. This is as linear as it gets, and although being a good story its twists have been done before. The “big twist” at the end is even explained by the central character, after a fashion, during the main body of the film!

As with most modern sci-fi, it’s best to disengage the believability circuits at the same time as you start shovelling popcorn into your gob. Source Code is nicely character-driven with a good premise, much of what made Quantum Leap so deservedly popular. Although it’s not difficult to stay a scene or two ahead of the screenwriters, Gyllenhaal really does make you care for his character.

He’s aided by the sympathetic “controller” Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) who is overseem by the rather more self-obsessed Dr Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright), while engaging with several characters on the doomed train – in particular Christina (Michelle Monaghan) who sits opposite him, and who he vows to save – despite being told that this is impossible.

I think Source Code suffered from the exact opposite problem as Red Riding Hood. After all the pizzaz, I was expecting it to be awe-inspiring. Instead it’s just “pretty good” so almost a let-down. Well-made, very well acted and not overblown it makes for a good film with a nice story but it simply isn’t the incredible movie it’s being made out to me.

Oh, and the Quantum Leap quote I put at the start of the review? The classic “Oh boy”? It’s in there. And it’s the first words spoken by the very actor who made them famous. Good luck spotting them!

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8 thoughts on “Rio / Red Riding Hood / Source Code”

  1. Wow Bakula is in it … does this mean that this is a rejigged Quantum Leap movie that was planned a few years back? Bring back Quantum Leap!

  2. Hey, Ben. No this isn’t the rejigged QL movie. Apparently that is still on track elsewhere and will be a “proper” adaptation/updating/abomination/whatever…

  3. That’s already been written off as a possibility. Stockwell is too old and I gather has been rather ill over recent years. Backula’s getting on a bit as well. I’d be amazed if they don’t have cameos though.

    Are you in Hungary?

  4. Hungary! … probably some dodgy ip dealings from my office.

    Maybe Bakula can play the target/reflection then? haha

  5. [Bakula] That thought did occur to me but it’s a little too obvious. Maybe have him as the GTW (God/Time/Whatever) character – personified by the barkeeper in the final episode – or just one of the background scientists. Or Sam’s dad…?

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