Skip to main content

Review: American Reunion, Titanic 3D and The Pirates! Band of Misfits

By June 26, 2012No Comments

American Reunion posterIn one of these columns back in 2007 I said, “Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.” Those were the days, eh? Now you can’t get away from it. This week nos­tal­gia is every­where – get­ting up your nose and on your shoes – and the prime cul­prits are young whip­per­snap­pers who should know bet­ter – yearn­ing for their High School years in that innocent-yet-filthy time before Y2K and 9/11 changed everything.

The first American Pie was a well-executed imple­ment­a­tion of that noble genre, the teen sex com­edy. Four sequels (two direct-to-video) leeched whatever good­will there might have remained out of the pro­ject but – as the careers of Jason Biggs, Seann Williamm Scott and Chris Klein have stuttered – the Hollywood eco­nomy will even­tu­ally demand its trib­ute. American Reunion is the result.

No plot sum­mary can pos­sibly do this unpleas­ant­ness justice, suf­fice to say that the film attempts to outdo both the ugli­ness of the ori­gin­al and its sen­ti­ment­al­ity, mak­ing the whole exper­i­ence awk­ward rather than fun. But as a friend poin­ted out to me yes­ter­day, these things will always make more money than they cost and in fif­teen years we can look for­ward to an Inbetweeners Reunion movie. I hope I will still be here to com­plain about it.

Titanic 3D posterAlso trad­ing on nos­tal­gia for (two) more inno­cent times, James Cameron’s Titanic is back in cinemas in a 3D remastered ver­sion that sets an impress­ive new stand­ard for 3D con­ver­sion – and should embar­rass George Lucas whose Phantom Menace re-release earli­er this year was shoddy. Fifteen years on from the last time I saw it, I was expect­ing to be cyn­ic­al about the over­blown emo­tions and the grand manip­u­lat­ive set-pieces, but I was sucked in – sucked in by the immers­ive 3D but also by Cameron’s engin­eer­ing of the story.

Titanic is big, old-fashioned epic film­mak­ing and didn’t make all that money by acci­dent. Definitely worth anoth­er look.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits posterThe final film for this week is also set on the ocean wave and is also an impress­ive tech­nic­al achieve­ment. The Pirates! Band of Misfits is Aardman’s return to stop-motion anim­a­tion – their first clay­ma­tion fea­ture since Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2005 – and their trade­mark visu­al puns are in every frame.

Unfortunately, the verbal side of the script is weak with lots of lame jokes that wouldn’t nor­mally meet tv sit­com stand­ards, and a lack of flesh on both the plot and char­ac­ters. Hugh Grant plays Pirate Captain (not sure if that’s first name/surname like Meat Loaf) and you get the feel­ing that they cast the wrong Hugh (but Laurie got used up in the bril­liant Arthur Christmas last year). In one last effort to win Pirate of the Year, he sells out his beloved ship’s par­rot Polly (actu­ally the last dodo) to schem­ing Charles Darwin (David Tennant) and evil Queen Victoria (Imelda Staunton).

Even the brief addi­tion of Lenny Henry and the great Brian Blessed aren’t enough to get some laughter flow­ing but kids will prob­ably enjoy the bril­liantly anim­ated visu­als – Aardman still get this stuff right even if the script could’ve done with anoth­er couple of drafts and some doctoring.

Printed in Wellington’s Capital Times on Wednesday 11 April, 2012.