Four Film Tuesday

Despite being loaded with cold (by which I mean, being male, that I was DYING) I made it to the cinema to catch four films today: A Single Man, Battle for Terra 3D, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and Valentine’s Day.

A Single Man

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A day in the life of a gay man in the 60’s who’s lover died recently.

Beautifully directed. Artfully shot. Emotionally acted. Utterly boring.

Obvious OSCAR nomination material due to the subject matter and poncy direction, but incredibly dull and boring. To its credit, I can’t believe that this is the same Colin Firth who was in the atrocious St Trinian’s films. OK, this film’s still not exactly great but at least it’s not trash.

Battle for Terra (3D)

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Humanity invades a peace-loving alien world.

I’d not actually heard of this film other than in the cinema listings so I wasn’t expecting much. How wrong I was. This is not the kind of fare one automatically thinks of when you see the words “cartoon” and “computer generated”. Think more The Last Starfighter than Wall-E. I’d go so far as to say it’s not really a kids’ film so much as a young adults’.

First up, there’s no real comedy in it. Neither are their a multitude of background jokes and references. Cute characters or sidekicks? None. OK, so there’s a robot thingy but it’s hardly a comedy character.

It’s hardly original fare. Part of the plot and ideas can be likened to sources such as Avatar, Battlestar Galactica (the way the human ships launch), Planet 51, Independence Day (the ending) and countless others. However, it is so well packaged that it stands very well in its own right.

The story’s fairly run-of-the-mill, but takes the best of many sources and welds things together into a tight little arc that fits snugly into the short running length. The visuals are superb, voice acting top notch (Mark Hamill and James Garner for crying out loud!) and direction pinpoint.

Sure, it’ll never be up there with PIXAR’s finest simply as it’s never going to get the advertising money behind it. This is BandSlam compared to Disney’s High School Musical series. Far superior, but squirrelled away.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Teenage boy finds out he’s a demi-god, quest ensues.

OK, you want a short review? Harry Potter meets The Clash of the Titans. It is such an easy comparison to make because that’s what it is. We’ll see how it fares against the real Clash remake in a few weeks, but in the meantime this is an enjoyable enough ride.

Let’s look at it and I’ll try to be as spoiler-free as possible.

  • Boy has poor, mildly abusive upbringing
  • No real knowledge of parentage (OK, he knows his mum in this film)
  • Ends up at school for children like him when he discovers his “true self”
  • Rails against authority figure at school despite being their favourite
  • Forms little group containing himself, incredibly talented female and token minority character (Jackson: black kid; Potter: ginger kid)

If you’ve seen Clash or have any knowledge of Greek mythology you’ll know how several of the set pieces will go. Medusa to Hydra – it’s just like it was in Harryhausen’s epic.

It’s still not a bad film, though. And it’s great to see Sean Bean as Zeus. Ruler of the gods and he has a Yorkshire accent. I’m assuming this will develop into a series following the books, so it could improve. Harry Potter, in my opinion, did. A decent start, but it really needs some more originality so I hope the later tomes are better.

Valentine’s Day

This will likely be the only mention of this “holiday” on my blog this year as I, personally, hate it. Utterly commercial and not even a proper holiday. Anyway…

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Various people are single or in couples, then they meet up or split up and then it all ends.

This is a US take on the films of Richard Curtis et al who really know how to put one of these together. Plenty of swearing usually helps (Four Weddings, I’m looking at you), and I believe there was one “****” in the entire of Valentine’s Day. Poor showing.

It is not a bad film. There are more plot threads than anything Tarantino’s put together, with the characters interwoven very tightly. A little too much, to be honest, and it pushes coincidence just a little too far. However, the plot doesn’t revolve around this coincidence except for one little piece, so this is forgiveable.

The cast is stellar, though CineWorld’s reason to see the film amounts to the fact that it’s the first one in which Julia Roberts and her niece both star. Erm. Big whoop.

If you know your multi-threaded rom-coms this is nothing new. It’s one full valentine’s day of some indeterminate year (not this year as it’s on a Monday in the film) and… things happen. As a general rule, people who are together split up. Those who aren’t, get together.

There are a couple of little surprise moment, especially towards the end.

Now, I’m a jaded old fart. But there were two moments in particular that had me – and the entire audience – going “aaaaah” and/or reaching tissue-wards. I won’t spoil them other than to say they both involved the young boy.

This isn’t the laugh-fest promised by the trailer. In fact most of the biggest giggles are in the trailer itself. There’s a fair bit going for it, though, and it’s worth seeing. It could have stood beig maybe 15 minutes shorter, but other than that it’s not bad.

An easy pigeon hole to put it in, but it’d be a good date movie.

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