Five Movies on an Airplane!

The great thing about international travel is getting to see places way outside your everyday experience, expand your horizons, and gain new perspectives. The great thing about being stuck on an airplane for 13+ hours each way is catching up on some of the movies you missed whlle you were busy working over the summer.

(Well, maybe not ALL of the movies were so great…) Minor spoilers ahead, and caveat: I watched them on a seat-back screen at standard def in the twilight zone of airplane brain…


The Amazing Spider Man 2 – Andrew Garfield continues to fill the moodier shoes of our favorite webhead, this time with more of Spidey’s trademark humor, too. The chemistry is better with Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy, but the cracks are beginning to show in their relationship, and if you’re any kind of Spider-Man fan, you can see what’s coming. The VFX are top notch for the most part — one of the best things about these new Spidey movies is how well they depict his crazy acrobatic stunts and his hyperkinetic battles with his classic foes.

Unfortunately, none of the villains are even remotely compelling (Jamie Foxx’s sad-sack Electro is too much of a joke to take seriously, and Dean DeHaan’s arc is paint by numbers with garish green and purple. Rhino was fun, though. More of him, please!). The storyline with Peter’s parents also seems pretty tacked on to give Peter something else to be moody about. I’m not sure how it really adds to the story, ultimately (To be fair, I never much cared for the parents storyline in the comics, either).

That said, on a seatback screen to help pass the time, it was entertaining enough, so I give it a B-


X-Men: Days of Future Past – I really enjoyed this one. It’s got a stellar cast (and some fun cameos, who’d have ever thought we’d get this kind of continuity?), and handled its complicated time-travel plotline pretty well. Logan was a good choice to be our time-traveler, though I was glad Kitty Pryde got a nice chunk of screentime, too. I wished for a bit more of old Professor X and Magneto because the chemistry between Stewart and Mackellan is always so good. At least we also had the excellent McAvoy and Fassbender.

I’m pleased Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique had the pivotal role (and Lawrence is great), but I found her relentless crusade a little hollow. I couldn’t quite believe she wouldn’t rethink her motivations, knowing what might come as a result. I know Mystique is still “young” in these X-Men films, but she’s very smart and capable, so I’d like to have seen her be a little cagier in her plans, and not just acting like the T-1000 Terminator all the time. Killing officials on national TV? Not the cleverest assassin.

X-Men: Days of Future Past has an interesting timeline reset, too. Maybe we can all pretend certain movies didn’t happen, officially, now. 🙂 A


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Much to my surprise, I’ve enjoyed these new movies. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes paints an intriguing picture of the earliest ape society and pulls out all the stops to make us root for Caesar and his ape paradise. Of course, a serpent must come to all Edens, and in this case, human contact gives one disaffected ape a chance to ruin it all.

The human cast is forgettable, but that’s okay, because you’re really watching this for the apes. There’s the right amount of pathos, tragedy, comedy, and baby chimps to make me ready for the inevitable 3rd film in the franchise.

Oh, and there’s a great Michael Giacchino score, too! A-


Edge of Tomorrow – I’m usually not a Tom Cruise fan, but he’s pretty good in this fresh mashup of Starship Troopers and Groundhog Day.

I got a little lost when the mechanism that caused the time-travel loops was explained (the logic of the Omega allowing its foes to experience time-travel is a little weak), but that may have been my airplane brain. Emily Blunt is good as Rita, a badass soldier who’s instrumental in defeating the aliens once and for all. I admit feeling a lot of nostalgia to see Bill Paxton back as a trash-talking drill sergeant.

I’d like to watch this one again when I can focus better, but I wish more sci-fi movies took chances on stories like this one. A

Transformers: Age of Extinction – A deep fried baloney sammich with a squirt of processed cheese. Leaving Shia LeBeouf out of this one was a good start, unfortunately it’s nearly 3 hours of more of the same as the last four movies. Optimus Prime is a bloodthirsty, vengeful bastard (I lost track of the number of times he proclaimed “I’ll kill him!”), all of the robots are smack-talking one-liner machines (hey, and so are the humans), and we get multiple gratuitous butt cleavage shots of Mark Wahlberg’s character’s daughter WHILE he’s telling her to “put some pants on.” Ugh.

It got me through some rough turbulence, I guess. D-