Part 2 of the films I saw last year.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
(Starring Tom Wilkinson, Dame Maggie Smith, Celia Imrie)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a hotel in India that has not finished construction but is being marketed as a getaway to pensioners in Britain. Tom Wilkinson is a retired judge with a secret. Dame Maggie Smith plays a woman sent to India by the NHS to get a hip transplant. Celia Imrie plays a grandmother fed up with being used as an unpaid babysitter by her adult offspring.
(Starring Jean Dujardin)
The Artist is about a film star in the age of silent film. When “talkies” are introduced he dismisses them as irrelevant. He slips from favour as a result, until an actress whose career he helped start helps him out. Jean Dujardin won the Oscar for Best Lead Actor for his performance in the film.
Despite it being lauded and awarded, I found the film a let-down. The storyline (established artist helps a young up-and-comer, falls from grace, then is rescued by the former up-and-comer) is one giant cliche. The star dismisses sound as a gimmick, which is exactly what I felt about the use of black-and-white and narration in this film. Finally, Jean Dujardin’s character does get to speak at the end, and his voice is pleasant. It seems dubious that he would not have shifted to talkies.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
(Voices of Hugh Grant and others)
The unnamed Pirate Captain longs to win the Pirate of the year contest but is mediocre to say the least. One day he attacks a ship transporting Charles Darwin. Darwin realises that the captain’s parrot Polly is in fact a dodo, and offers to buy Polly, then tries to steal her when the captain balks. Darwin then talks them into coming with him to show Polly at the Royal Society. Queen Victoria sees Polly, and offers the captain a fortune to sell Polly to her. The captain does so, then learns that Victoria has nefarious reasons for wanting Polly.
This film was my biggest disappointment of the year. The animation from Aardman was fantastic, the storyline a silly cliche-ridden load of tripe.
The Avengers (3D)
(Starring Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth)
Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) assembles a team of superheroes (Black Widow, Captain America, Hawkeye, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man) to fight for the safety of the world. When Loki (Tom Hiddleston) leads an army to attack earth, the Avengers go into action. Joining them is Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who wants Loki to return to Asgaard.
This was the most entertaining film I saw the whole year, and possibly the most entertaining film I’ve ever seen. The dialogue is full of witty banter and the action scenes are phenomenal. My brother in law has the DVD and I intend borrowing it.
The Lorax (3D)
(Voices of Danny DeVito, Zac Efron, Ed Helms)
Based loosely on the book by Dr Seuss. Theodore (Zac Efron) lives in Thneedville and wants to find a real tree to impress Audrey, on whom he has a crush. He is advised to seek out the Onceler who lives outside the city. Over several visits, the Onceler tells Ted that the area was once a lush forest. The Onceler came to the area to make his fortune with an invention called a thneed. Meeting the Lorax (Danny DeVito), the Onceler agrees to harvest the tufts from truffula trees in a sustainable manner. Greed gets the better of the Onceler, who starts cutting the truffula trees down to harvest the tufts faster. When the last tree falls, the area beomes an unsustainable wasteland. Deprived of the source of material for the thneeds, the Onceler became a guilt-ridden recluse. He gives Theodore the last truffula seed in the hopes that the forest can be regrown.
(Starring John Cusack)
This is supposedly based on the last days of Edgar Allen Poe. A murderer is using the plots of Poe’s works to kill victims, and challenges Poe to “a battle of wits”. Working with the police, Poe must find the killer before his fiancee, kidnapped by the killer, becomes a victim.
The film, although clever, is rather “meh”.
(Starring Will Smith, Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Emma Thomson)
The third in the series of Men in Black films. A one-armed alien named “Boris the Animal” (his reply to this name is “it’s just “Boris””) escapes from his prison on the moon and then goes back in time to murder K (Tommy Lee Jones) who shot off his arm and ruined his plans. J (Will Smith) is the only one who remembers K and goes back to 1969 to foil Boris’s plans. There he meets the younger K (Josh Brolin) and has to convince him of the threat. Due to Rip Torn getting in trouble, Emma Thomson plays the new leader of the Men in Black.
The film was quite entertaining.
(Starring Channing Tatum, Rachel McAdams)
Based on the story of Kim and Krickitt Carpenter.
A married woman and her husband are in a car crash and she gets thrown through the windscreen. When she wakes up, she has no memory of the past five years of her life, which include a massive falling out with her parents, leaving her fiance, leaving law school to become a sculptor, getting a tattoo and marrying her husband. Her parents are grateful to have her back, but she is totally confused. Bit by bit, she learns what happened and finally reconciles with her husband.
The ex-fiance is a cardboard cutout: an oily individual with no redeeming features. The character stretches plausibility to breaking point and made me ask why on earth the woman was his girlfriend in the first place.
Snow White and the Huntsman
(Starring Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron)
A retelling of the Snow White fairytale. Some time after Snow White’s mother dies, a strange army invades the country of her father the king. The king leads his forces out and routs the attackers. The troops then find a “prisoner” named Ravenna (Charlize Theron). The king falls in love and a marriage is arranged. But the army was a decoy. Ravenna is a powerful witch who murders the king and then installs herself and her brother as rulers. Snow White is kept imprisoned. Ravenna, always fearful that she will be brought down, learns that she has to murder Snow White to become immortal.
Snow White (Kristen Stewart) manages to escape. Ravenna hires a huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to track her down. The huntsman first accepts, but is suspicious of Ravenna. He eventually helps Snow White evade the queen’s forces. In the end, Snow White leads an army to vanquish Ravenna.
The aspect of dark magic is played up heavily in this film. It’s quite chilling at times, and not for children.
(Starring Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron)
Strange messages have been found all over Earth in archaeological digs. A company works out that the signs are a star map and launches the spaceship Prometheus on an expedition. Strange things start to happen when the ground surveillance team starts its work, and the crew learns that the star map is not a treasure map, but a trap.
(Starring Johnny Depp)
This was loosely based on a television show of the same name. Several hundred years ago, Barnaby Collins was a member of the wealthy Collins family. Engaged to be married, he was also banging one of the servants. The servant is a witch who curses Barnaby and turns him into a vampire after he dumps her. His grave is disturbed in the 1960s and he comes back to return the Collins family to greatness.
The thing I remember most about this film is the soundtrack. Songs like “Nights in white satin” and works from The Carpenters.
The Amazing Spider-Man
(Starring Andrew Garfield, Denis Leary)
This is a reboot of the Spider-Man franchise starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker. Denis Leary plays the acerbic Commissioner of Police for New York.