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British Airways are getting better at the in-flight entertainment. This time around, they managed to pick almost exclusively films that I was curious about, but not prepared to pay for at the box office.

Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle

Full Throttle is far and away the shallowest film I've seen for years. It consists almost entirely of a variety of pretty girls doing a variety of pretty and/or violent things. What narrative there is is an excuse to string together a number of (admittedly well-edited) music video sequences showcasing the prettiness. It's a weird one to watch because it feels manipulative, exploitative, cheap, guilty...but you know all the time that Diaz, Liu and Barrymore are in full control, and in fact enjoying every ludicrous second. That, and the fact that casting Demi Moore as a fallen Angel is a stroke of genius, pull the film up from 'trash' to 'enjoyable trash'.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

As an example of action-driven narrative, this is pretty good. It certainly wastes no time getting down and dirty; the opening car chase is the sort of extragavanza most films save until the final reel. And considering exactly how little exposition the film has room for, and exactly how much backstory it has to make sense of, it's little short of remarkable that the finished story hangs together, at least on a cursory glance - and frankly, you'll be too busy watching the pretty 'splosions to spare the plot anything more. There's humour, some of it badly misjudged, some of it reasonable, but the best thing about the film is that when it matters, it remains true to the spirit of the first two films. It doesn't have their complexity, and it doesn't have their subtlety, but it has their soul, and that's just about enough to get by.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

I was expecting this to be abysmal. It wasn't.

Of course, it's not a tenth of the film it should have been; the storytelling is so much less adventurous (compare the origins and use of Quatermain!), and the characters so constrained by the needs of Hollywood...but it's sadly hard to imagine it would ever have been any other way. But every now and then, there's a moment that glints, sometimes even shines. It's there most obviously in the production: This is a gorgeous film to watch, from the baroque-encrusted Nautilus to the straight-from-the-comic Hyde to the turn-of-the-century darkness of European cities. The addition of Dorian Gray proves appropriate and effective; the addition of Tom Sawyer is...less so, but he's bearable most of the time, and in any case is at least clearly subordinate to Quatermain. The thing about the League is, the concept is so simple and so strong that there are moments when it just works. The film could and should have been more, but it's not a disaster.

Also on this trip, I managed to catch Kill Bill in the cinema.

Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino knows how to make a film. He knows how to make a hell of a film.

(But thank god they split it into two parts; I don't think I could have taken it all in one dose.)
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was a dissapointment for those who were expecting the same dark, erotic underpinnings ofr the first few books. But they rarely get Alan Moore right when they rewrite his stuff for movies.
I think I could happily pass away never having seen CA and T3.
You're from Maidenhead? Cool.. my great granddad was from there!

And frankly both young, handsome male characters added to broaden the "demographic appeal" fuck me right off.

Whereas CA2 rocks.
Quentin Tarantino knows how to make a film. He knows how to make a hell of a film.

And, moreover, he knows how to make blood spurt out of people in a really entertainingly absurd way.

-- Tom