April 18, 2017

This past week I rented a couple films.

First was Inferno with Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon.  This also stars the very busy Felicity Jones (of Rogue One fame, as well as Theory of Everything).  The story here is Langdon, minus the bad mullet from Davinci Code, awaking battered and bruised in a hospital bed.  He knows very little and is groggy.  He eventually notes he is not in Boston near Harvard but rather Florence.  Then he tries to help solve and prevent a viral epidemic from another radical who sees people as a virus on the planet.  There are some expected twists and turns.   It is decently done.  Still I can see why this didn’t get a tremendous following during the summer.   I like the scenery, with Florence and Venice it makes for a nice travel log.  I like seeing these places.
The second film is so memorable that I can’t even recall it.  I racked my brain over this.   So I will need to re-visit the video store to jog my memory.
On Netflix I did watch the WWII documentary Five Came Back about acclaimed directors (Ford, Huston, Capra etc) who enlisted and were part of the propaganda effort.  Some of their films are there, like the Battle at Midway with live colour footage.  The even more powerful film was the Nazi Concentration Camp film which was another documentary used at the Nuremburg Trials.  Anyone who claims that the holocaust was not real should watch this film.  It is heartbreaking what humans are capable of doing to one another.  The War changed all of these directors and they came back and made some of their most memorable films.  I also caught another BBC documentary about Hiroshima and it was interesting; interesting in the US being blamed and accused of using the weapon, but then it is revealed that the Japanese military and government kept their people away from real information.  There was no surrender after the first bomb, and even when the second bomber was seen going to Nagasaki, no warnings were even issued to their own people (5 hours notice could have been given).   The premise of the coverage is the US wanted to drop the bombs anyway and have guinea pigs on its effects.  The reality is many thousands of US lives were saved avoiding a land invasion of a people who fought to the bitter end.  Again, another good film to catch.
Painfully little in the theatres to catch these days.

[Time passes]  Oh!!  I remembered.

Legend of Tarzan.
I even watched the extras in this film as well.   Now I know why it didn’t make that great an impression on me.   In the Extras they talk about how they were taking a different tack on this classic story of the ripped man in the loin cloth.  Here, they work in reverse, starting with a civilized Tarzan (Lord Greystoke) after he has been back from Africa for 8 years and already with Jane as a civilian.  There is then a request for him to see about “progress” being made in the Congo, which requires his expertise.  So he and Jane reluctantly go.  What they find is Christoph Walz acting as a bad man, and looking for diamonds for his Belgian leader while facilitating revenge for Tarzan’s enemy in the jungle.  You see, Tarzan killed this tribe leader’s brother long ago.  And there you have it.
In the Extras they further explain how they didn’t fly the cast into Africa and no filming was done there.  It was all done in soundstages in Britain.  There are also no animals in the film that are real.  They are CGI.  And here is where the picture falls down.  Some of the animals are very realistic (think Life of Pi’s Tiger – only as a lion) but then others, like the gorillas, are challenged.  Some look somewhat real.  Others less.  CGI is coming a long way, but there is still more for complete realism.
Alexander Skarsgard (looking more like his father in each film, although more ripped here) plays Tarzan and the ripped muscles.  No loin cloth but rather various stages of undress – fully clothes to Hulk like chinos.  Then Samuel l Jackson taking on evidence of using slaves, Margot Robbie trying to be tough and independent and yet you wonder about her boldness with bad guy Walz at times (where he would be unlikely to stand for the impudence).  Never mind.  It was okay.  CGI less so.  And a movie that really didn’t need to be re-made, much like last week’s Ben Hur.

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