United Airlines Film Festival

7 Feb,2017 By Jagabond

It was too soon…moving back to Europe for not even a month before learning I’d be traveling back to the U.S. I spent the last week in San Antonio, Texas taking a military course in hospital management. I must be getting more comfortable with these long, ocean-crossing flights, as instead of fighting for sleep I look forward to the film selection. United Airlines has a great library of movies that are free for the duration of the flight. I decided to take some notes while watching, and now present my first ever travel-related movie review blog.

1. Doctor Strange – Grade B

I’m a comic fan at heart, so I chose to watch this movie first. I’m not familiar with much of the Dr. Strange story, so I viewed this with an unbiased eye. First of all, Benedict Cumberbatch is fantastic as the lead. I love him as Sherlock, but that’s definitely not the only role he can play. I like the underlying story of an egotistical surgeon who loses the use of his hands, and in desperation to get his life back turns to the mystic arts, something a man of science like him never believed in. Tilda Swinton was great as his mentor, and the visuals throughout the film really pushed the ‘magic’ theme. I do feel the movie was a bit rushed at times, and I never understood the role of Rachel McAdams (a great actress)…was she supposed to be his lover, friend, something else? The end wrapped things up very nicely, and tied it back into the other Avengers films.

2. Star Trek Beyond – Grade B

I love what J.J. Abrams has done with the Star Trek legend, as he basically rebooted it for a new generation of fans. This film focused more on the exploration aspect of the mission at first, which was cool as it showed the burden on the crew of traveling for what sometimes seemed like a pointless reason. It quickly morphed into a pretty good action film, with a couple scenes I’ll probably be checking out again on YouTube for the foreseeable future. The cast is outstanding, as they clearly aim to portray the characters as shown on the television show, with only a few modern tweaks. Chris Pine, the actor playing Kirk, totally nails the character and makes it his own. I do, however, think these films are starting to make Kirk a bit invincible, as he’s now saved the universe three times…they need to tone that down. I also loved the black and white alien girl, and I hope she makes it into future sequels!

3. Mamma Mia! – Grade C+

I’m an ABBA fan, been to their museum, so why not see this movie? Meryl Streep shines in this musical that’s light on story but heavy on scenery. The film utilizes multiple locations in Greece, all of them breathtaking, though the best being when Meryl sings ‘winner takes it all’ to Pierce Brosnan. Like all musicals not every song is a winner, but the ‘Dancing Queen’ scene and others keep the story moving at a solid pace. It’s a good musical in that you feel really satisfied at the end, and you’re smiling as the credits roll.

4. Inferno – Grade D

It’s hard not to be a Tom Hanks fan, but he needed to give this script an extra read-through. This is the third installment of the Dan Brown series where Hanks plays a professor of symbology named Robert Langdon, who somehow finds himself embroiled in crazy adventures. He’s like a more stuffy, boring and less athletic version of Indiana Jones. The opening is terrible, with Langdon waking up with amnesia in the opening scene. Wonderful, so for the first 30 minutes, neither the viewer nor the main character has any idea what’s going on. Uninspired characters predominate this film, particularly the mysterious Indian guy who seems to know everything, the female lead with the totally underwhelming plot twist, and the nondescript woman who works for the World Health Organization. It didn’t get an F, because I loved the scenes from Florence and Venice.

5. Independence Day: Resurgence – Grade F

What…the hell…was that? In the twenty years since the initial alien invasion, technology has been significantly advanced, but acting has seemingly gone in the opposite direction. The first Independence Day movie was awesome, as it was a film with a good story and amazing characterization…you actually cared who lived and died. The sequel was a bad story with no characterization. Everything they tried in this film failed. They expanded Brent Spiner’s role, and it ended up being strange and off-putting. They tried to screw with the Judd Hirsch character, and converted him from witty father into some creepy old dude who was driving a school bus of kids around for some unknown reason. Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman reprise their roles from the first film, only with none of their previous passion and personality. By the end, I was hoping the alien queen would annihilate the planet. This is one of the worst movies I’ve had the displeasure of seeing.

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