In-Flight Movie Roundup (May Edition)

So, this post should have surfaced a couple of months ago but it has unfortunately been left in “unfinished blog post limbo” for some time. I’ll post more on the reasons why in a few days!

Miss Rendermonkee and I decided to book a last minute trip to Doha over the bank holiday a couple of months ago which, as well as giving us the opportunity to catch some close-to-40 degree sun, was a great way of catching up with some of the movies I’d missed on the big screen! It’s 7 hours or so from Manchester to Doha meaning I could cram three movies in each way, so with noise-cancelling headphones in hand I was all set…

Outgoing Trip:

As soon as I boarded my Qatar Airways aircraft I started browsing their May movie listings, and was immediately drawn to their headliner…

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: 9/10

It’s almost unsettling to experience onscreen visuals that are so unique that it’s difficult to draw a comparison to anything else but this film does exactly that. I’ve worked as a 3D ‘generalist’ for over 16 years, and have a basic understanding of the work that goes into modelling, rigging and animating a character that will resonate with an audience, but often they somehow miss the craftsmanship of traditional animation.

Spider-Verse seamlessly fuses these very different methods. The production teams have created an aesthetic containing all of the dynamism of 3D animation and overlaid a topcoat of . Each frame of this movie looks like it belongs on the latest Spidey comic-book. It’s far more than just fancy cell shaders though. It’s the dropped frames used in the character animation helping to accentuate movement, it’s the comic-book ‘captions’ that pop up on screen occasionally, it’s the cinematography, it’s how every shot seems to have been designed with the starting question “how would this be framed in a comic-book”.

And then there’s the story, probably the craziest superhero storyline ever told on film and one that would only ever have existed in this format. Passion and creativity drips off every beautifully saturated rendered frame of this masterpiece. I’m just gutted that I didn’t catch it on the big screen.

Creed II: 7/10

Creed II acts as a sequel to Rocky IV moreso than it does a followup to the original Creed movie. And for that reason, I had to select it as my second viewing. For me, Rocky IV is one of those movies that demands to be watched whenever you catch it on TV. It contains a healthy dose of 80s cheese along with a soundtrack which is every bit as iconic as the unforgettable training montages.

It wouldn’t be too much of a spoiler to say that Creed II contains many of the same story beats as Rocky IV. The setup, the despair of the second act and the retribution of the finale are all present and correct, but surprisingly the movie also does a great job of developing the character’s back stories and strained relationships.

As predictable as this movie is, it’s a hell of a lot of fun catching back up with those key players from 30 years ago, but beware, that second act is brutal!

Escape Room: 6/10

Conceptually brilliant, Escape Room plays out like a family-friendly Saw movie. A bunch of selected players are each invited to play in a brand new escape room experience. Most of us I’m sure are familiar with this concept; rooms often have a theme, and a set of clues to find hidden within its props and ornaments, eventually leading to a ‘way out’.

Escape Room plays out in a similar way but with much higher stakes. Let’s just say if these players fail to find their way out within the allocated time, they stand to lose far more than their pride. I often enjoy films that throw a group of random strangers together to overcome a tense or difficult situation and Escape Room was no different. It did however, lose its way slightly during the cliched third act, with the mystery of the game not quite reaching the payoff it deserved,

And after a few days in Doha which is amazing by the way. If you get the chance to go, my tip would be stay in central Doha close to the souqs. There’s loads going on, plenty of restaurants and places to eat, and it’s a fantastic area to walk around. Anyway…

Return Trip…

The Predator: 3/10

It was like watching one of the most iconic antagonists in movie history reduced to low budget, B-movie absurdity. Parts of this film were so mind-numbingly, offensively ridiculous that I’m legitimately shocked that anyone would think that it was okay to allow cinema-goers to pay to see them.

A main part of the movie revolves around an autistic kid deciphering and activating a piece of Predator technology (oh, which had been sent to him by his dad for ‘safe keeping’). The absurdity level goes a step further when the same kid decides to ‘cosplay’ using the Predator helmet, leading him to accidentally blow up the stereotypical classroom bully’s house.

I can’t do it. I can’t waste any more of your or my time on this mistake of a movie when I’ve yet to write about Bad Times at the El Royale. I’ll just finish by saying this movie was so bad, that halfway through I felt the need to pay for inflight wifi just so I could warn people never to watch it. Avoid.

Bad Times at the El Royale: 9/10

I knew very little about this film other than what I had seen in the super-stylish trailer, but the character portrayals and acting on display drew me in immediately. I’ve always been a huge fan of films which just allow actors to… act.

Bad Times gives us a handful of very different characters who find themselves checking into the El Royale hotel on the same rainy night, and over the course of the next couple of hours, we learn who each of these characters truly are. Interestingly, we come to learn that the hotel itself also acts as an additional character but to say any more would be giving away a little too much. This is a film that should be watched with as little known about it as possible.

I have since read some criticism about the film’s duration and pacing. Personally, with these on-screen performances, I found the film a pleasure to watch. Jeff Bridges, Dakota Fanning, Cynthia Erivo, the incredibly-watchable Jon Hamm… in fact everyone helps to make this one of my favourite movies of recent years. Catch it when you get the chance!

Sicario: 8/10

Sicario was originally released in 2015 so I’m obviously a little late to this party. Emily Blunt plays an FBI agent who, after realising her efforts in the war against drug crime are largely ineffective, agrees to assist a CIA special ops team on a directive from the Department of Defense at the United States-Mexico border.

She is given very little information about this mission other than her expertise in ‘tactical procedures’ would be beneficial. She is driven by the prospect of putting an end to the drug cartel who had been responsible for a bomb that had killed her team, but soon finds that there maybe other motives at play.

Sicario is an intelligent and multi-layered movie. An aircraft probably isn’t the most ideal location to view this complex narrative however, and I’ll be looking out for the chance of a second viewing when I’m not interrupted by seat-belt announcments 🙂

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