Monday 7 April 2014

Films: Next (2007) and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009)

I have commented before that Nicholas Cage is not one of my favourite actors and, what's worse, at one time I disliked the films he was making to the point that seeing his name on the credits was enough to put me off watching them. However, he has more recently produced a number of films that I have rather liked. I reviewed Knowing here in September last year, and I have previously enjoyed the National Treasure duology, a lightweight but fun blend of Indiana Jones and Dan Brown.

Next (yet another film based on a story by Philip K Dick) continues this trend. Cris Johnson (Cage) is able to see two minutes into his own future, a secret talent that enables him to make a living as a stage magician and gambler. His life becomes a lot more complicated when the FBI, in the form of Agent Ferris (Julianne Moore), discovers his ability and wants to recruit him in an urgent search to locate a nuclear bomb thought to have been smuggled into the USA by terrorists. Further complications arise when Johnson meets the woman he believes to be the love of his life (played by Jessica Biel) while he is being hunted by both the FBI and the terrorists. The plot is complex and well-handled, and the ending is unexpected. This didn't get good reviews, but I found it well worth watching.


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs is an animated film concerning the adventures of unsuccessful but determined young inventor Flint Lockwood, who devises a machine that is able to convert water into food. This accidentally ends up in the sky, from where it promptly begins to suck in the clouds and shower whatever food Flint specifies onto his home town. This promises to save the town from economic disaster and makes him a hero – but inevitably, things start to go wrong. The film has fun lampooning targets such as the ambitious politician who wishes to become bigger than his job of town mayor permits (and he does…) and the condescending sexism of a TV presenter, and it must be commended for making the hero a science nerd. Furthermore, the cute weathergirl sent to report on his efforts, with whom he instantly becomes smitten, turns out to be a science nerd herself, and who secretly wears (shock, horror) glasses!

I find that I have a patchy relationship with animated films, which although aimed at youngsters vary greatly in their appeal to adults in general (and me in particular). Leaving aside the marvellous stop-motion products of Aardman Animation (especially the Wallace and Gromit series), animations which I have enjoyed include Ratatouille (particularly) and Wall-E, those I haven't persevered with include Toy Story and Up. Cloudy falls just on the favourable side of that divide.


Season three of Game of Thrones has at last become available on DVD, so I've taken a deep breath, gritted my teeth, stiffened my sinews and plunged in to yet another few hours of grim and nasty action. With dragons. I'm not at all sure that I actually like this series because it's so dark, but it is such a magnificent production that I can't stop watching.

No comments: