Friday, September 25, 2015

Flights of fancy

I was ridiculously excited about the entertainment selections on the plane rides back from Africa. And even though I probably should have been sleeping for some portions of the flights, I went a little crazy with the movie watching.

The Giver was really only loosely based on the book, which I only read recently, so I don't have any particularly strong ties to it. It gave way more plot time to minor characters from the book, which changed a lot of the book's relationships but that I actually thought rounded everything out better. The book's ending was pretty vague, but the movie made it a quasi-happy Hollywood ending. So at least it wasn't entirely dreary like the book was.

While on safari, I overheard some members of another party highly recommend Kingsman. Since it stars Colin Firth, it wasn't hard to convince myself to watch it. While it was pretty good cheesy fun, as a spy recruitment caper it tried way too hard to be story about class. Samuel L Jackson must have had a ton of fun playing the evil super villain. But it was actually a pretty gruesomely violent movie, for all its camp. And it definitely needs a sequel: as a stand-alone, viewers have invested too much emotion in a street kid who bests the toffs and saves the world to just leave him as he takes over a secret intelligence society.

Someone in my own safari party, during conversation about Disney cartoon plots, recommended the new Cinderella film. Basically, Disney made a film version of its 1950 animated feature. After the Kingsman bloodbath, I needed something happy and predictable. And to my own utter surprise, I actually liked Cinderella. There are some pretty bad retellings of this particular fairy tale out there; Ever After is still my favorite, but this one is pretty good.

Like a lot of fans of the musical Into the Woods, I was skeptical when a movie was announced. I've only ever seen a PBS broadcast of the Broadway version, but this film version was actually pretty decent. Meryl Streep is always a good villain (though still not better than Bernadette Peters!), and "Agony" is still one of the most hilarious songs in show tunes.

Lastly, because my nieces all loved Tangled and it was pretty short, I forced myself to watch this meh cartoon.  I get why it would appeal to several rather strong-willed small children, but I've never liked the Rapunzel story in the first place. None of the songs were memorable, Flynn the romantic interest is basically just Aladdin in a different setting, and the plot twist of Rapunzel's hair being magical threads made the climax no different from Beauty and the Beast. It's a pretty forgettable cartoon. I want those 100 minutes back.