Author Topic: A catch-up on films  (Read 1964 times)

Offline Tony Williams

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A catch-up on films
« on: January 12, 2009, 08:43:45 am »
If I have achieved limited success in keeping up with the latest books, I am even worse at watching films. So while I'm not too far behind the curve in seeing Wall-E recently, I also viewed for the first time X-Men (the first one) and (wait for it) ET!

Wall-E is an animated movie which has two stories running in parallel. One is the tale of a lonely rubbish-disposing robot, left behind on Earth to clear up the mess created by humanity, and his romance with a sleek robot from a visiting spaceship. The other is a biting satire on the Western and especially American way of life, which surprised me given that this is a Disney film aimed at children. The satire begins with humanity's profligacy in covering the Earth with rubbish and so poisoning the environment that nothing could live there.  The people all departed to live in luxurious spaceships in which they spend all day on trivial virtual activities, consuming vast quantities of junk food, instantly obeying the all-pervasive advertising about when and what to eat, drink and do, and travelling everywhere in mobile armchairs so that they became too fat and weak even to stand up without assistance. I wonder how many of the target audience, cooing over the cute robots, picked up the film's subversive message?

X-Men surprised me. I had expected an undemanding comic-strip action hero blockbuster (and all the expected elements are certainly there) but the plot is rather more serious and thoughtful than that, starting with a grim scene in a World War 2 concentration camp. The presence of some heavyweight actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan reinforces the point. The idea of people developing mutant powers is nothing new, of course, but the themes of how the public would regard such mutants, and how the mutants themselves might become divided over their response to the public's hostility, form the main thrust of this movie. In parallel with this is the struggle of one of the mutants (played by Hugh Jackman) to understand what had been done to him a story line which was left dangling in obvious preparation for the sequel. Clearly a cut above the average superhero film; and, if nothing else, male viewers can enjoy watching Famke Janssen, a disconcertingly blonde Halle Berry, and a disturbingly sexy mutant called Mystique (played by Rebecca Romijn).

I braced myself before watching ET, afraid that it would turn out to be a pile of schmaltz. Well, it was to some extent, but it was better than I had expected and quite amusing. Worth watching once.

(An extract from my SFF blog)

Anthony G Williams homepage and SFF blog