The kids have been ill, I've been ill, everyone's been ill. I've spent really rather a lot of time recently switching between playing Dragon Age: Origins and blowing my nose. The reviews have slipped a bit. Here's a quick catch up on some of the movies I've been watching:
District 9 (15) - What would happen if aliens landed in Johannesburg rather than Manhattan? Rather than getting blown up, they might get segregated from humans and shut away in a township.
It's an interesting metaphor but it doesn't get very deeply explored before one of the jailers finds himself forced to fight for alien rights with the aid of nothing but the F-word and some very big guns.
It's still comfortably more thoughtful than Avatar, though. (4/5)
Dorian Gray (15) - In Victorian London, a man stays young and innocent-looking while his portrait becomes old and corrupted by his dubious deeds, a mirror for his soul.
If you don't already know, you can probably guess how it all ends. (Hint: Badly.) Nonetheless, Ben Barnes is magnetic in the lead role and the story is expertly told. It's a decent (if slightly unpleasant) change from movies with explosions. (3/5)
Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen (12) - Conclusive proof that giant robots and lingering shots of Megan Fox can only sustain one blockbuster movie.
The plot is even dafter than before, there are too many transformers to tell them apart and they seem to develop new and unlikely abilities whenever it's time for another 'cool' action sequence.
A mess. (2/5)
Next (12) - Nicolas Cage has the power to see two minutes into the future and the FBI attempt to recruit him to help stop a terrorist attack. Strangely, he's always just left whenever they arrive...
This film has plenty of clever moments but is rather too eager to drop the two minute constraint, changing its own rules halfway through. This feels like cheating. The final act is also unexpectedly missing. Entirely. The movie simply ends half an hour short of a conclusion. In some ways, this is one of the clever moments. Whether it's actually smart or just irritating is another question.
Slick and enjoyable, all the same. (3/5)
X-Men Origins: Wolverine (12) - Another superhero movie that I should hate. The main X-Men series is fairly incoherent, choked by dull character development and overly full of angst. Going back specially for a prequel to learn how Wolverine developed his powers seems like asking for tedium.
Happily, someone realised this and it's in fact a big excuse for lots of smashing right from the start. Things are occasionally stretched a little far in order to fit events into the timeline of the previous films but enough stuff explodes to make up for it. (4/5)
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (12) - A man is born old and gets steadily younger. This has its advantages and makes his life interesting but is mainly rather awkward. Think Forrest Gump with reverse ageing rather than stupidity (and not as good).
It's OK. It just goes all over the place but never really gets anywhere. (3/5)
The Taking of Pelham 123 (15) - John Travolta plays his stock talkative, smug, psycho bad guy and hijacks a train on the New York subway. Denzel Washington has the bad luck to be the network controller on duty. They negotiate in a tense and dramatic fashion.
It's a gripping game of cat-and-mouse let down by a stupid foray into Die-Hard territory in the last twenty minutes. It also gave me unfortunate flash-backs to Money Train. (3/5)
Right, now that's done, I need to go back to saving Ferelden from the Darkspawn. Er, but I may go buy some more tissues first...