Captain Phillips

120px-Film-stripFirst film in a couple of weeks as we’ve been to that many gigs. Actually, we were heading to the Ramones/Andrew WK concert, but discovered we were a ticket short. I passed the one we had on at a loss to someone else and we went to see a film instead. Not very rock and roll, but we were both pooched and fancied a comfy seat rather than a loud concert.

Captain Phillips

“They’re not here to fish.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Pirates take over ship populated by unarmed merchant seamen

See it if you like: tension and real life drama

Short review as it’s past my bedtime and I have work in the morning! Simple point to make is that Tom Hanks is superb in this – as good as I’ve ever seen him – and supported by an equally excellent cast.

Now, it’s “based on a true story” so without reading up on the tale in detail it’s always hard to know how close to the real story we’re sticking. What’s important for your spending money is “is it enjoyable”? In this case – yes. Yes it is.

It takes about fifteen minutes to get going, and from that point on it really is tense.

To be as spoiler-free as possible, the only thing I’ll tell you about the ending is that it doesn’t drag on. It would be easy to make is ridiculously schmaltzy, but director Paul Greengrass seems to have decided where the story ends and stops the film at that point. Sensible decision.

Good cast, good film, enjoyable visit to the cinema.

Angels & Demons

Angels and Demons (C)
Angels & Demons

Another (well, the second) Dan Brown adaptation and already things are wearing thin. I will confess that Angels & Demons is a better film than The Da Vinci Code, partly because of the beautiful scenery in Rome. However, the stilted dialogue still glares and a couple of the plot points from the novel are missing for no readily apparent reason.

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A new Pope is being elected, but the four main contenders have been kidnapped with a threat to kill them publicly released by the culprit. So of course, The Vatican calls in a symbologist. As you do.

The film is fairly close to the novel aside from the aforementioned slight discrepancies. Unfortunately, this means there’s a lot of scientific inaccuracy and a plot which is – to a large extent – fairly predictable. Oh, and awful dialogue. Don’t get me wrong, Dan Brown, or at least his publisher,  is owed a thank you for bringing his type of novel into the popular mainstream. However, there are many authors who’ve done a better job of it than he has. His stories are good, but his writing’s dreadful. By keeping the film so close to the book, these weaknesses also transfer over.

Obvious differences are references to the events of the first film. Obvious as the original Angels & Demons novel was actually published and took place before The Da Vinci Code. If there’s anything more forced it’s that the film studio have offered Brown a fortune to write a third novel just so they can film that as well. Please, no.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not a bad film, as such. It’s just – like the novels – it could have been so much better. The story’s pretty good, the history (apocryphal or otherwise) is a good basis, the set pieces are well done but it’s just hand-holding story-telling. It’s A to B to C to climax with laborious explanations at each turn. In a novel, it’s easy to make this an aside but more of a challenge in a film. As the whole story revolves around historical events, there’s no end of explanation. Interesting, but very stop/start.

The cast are OK but like the film just nothing special – all by-the-numbers. Tom Hanks can do so much better and Ewan McGregor needs to pick one accent and stick to it. His Irish/Scots/English mash-up is just painful.

So as an adaptation, it’s not one of the worst being quite faithful to the original material. As a film, though, it’s a bit of a let-down.

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