Sunday 18 May 2014

Film: About Time (2013), and a TV catchup

There seems to be something about time travel which appeals to Rachel McAdams; not that she ever gets to do it herself, but About Time is the third film I've seen in which she has played a woman involved with a time-travelling man, after The Time Traveller's Wife and Midnight in Paris (both of which I've reviewed here).  Not that I'm complaining, since she's the most captivating leading lady of her generation and always a pleasure to watch. She also has three different roles to play in these three very different films.

The principal character in About Time is a gauche young man (played by Domhnall Gleeson) who inherits the ability to travel back in time whenever he wishes; a trick he frequently uses to "re-run" embarrassing moments to get them right the second – or third – time around. The story focuses on his pursuit of the girl of his dreams (McAdams, naturally) with a secondary focus on Gleeson's engaging family, particularly his father (Bill Nighy).

The first thing to say is that SF fans with a penchant for picking holes in logical inconsistencies in time-travel films had probably better avoid this film, as it is full of such errors; it doesn't even stick to its own rules. I am usually as nit-picking as anyone, but parked my critical faculties as this is not really an SF film; it's a soft-centered romantic comedy. It is exactly what you would expect from Director Richard Curtis (whose credits include Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones's Diary and Notting Hill) and merely uses the time travel element as an excuse to add some fun. The result is a lightweight confection suffering from Curtis's characteristic slide into mawkish sentimentality. It is made watchable only by the actors, particularly McAdams (did I mention that she is irresistably appealing?).

Two pieces of good news concerning the smaller screen; the second season of Orphan Black has begun showing on UK TV, with the story of the assorted group of clones (all played by Tatiana Maslany) continuing as they struggle to discover how to respond to the various threats facing them, not least a lethal genetic illness. What makes this so entertaining is that, while it certainly isn't a comedy, there is enough humour in it to balance the drama.

The other news item is that the second season of Continuum is also (at last!) available for rental in the UK. I've watched the first couple of episodes in which the tale continues of a Canadian law officer and a group of terrorists she is hunting all being thrown back from 2077 to the present day. Not much humour in this one, but it's got everything else you could hope for. I have to say that due to the long gap since I saw the first season, I initially floundered since there is little in the way of a recap and it took much of the first episode for my memory cells to catch up. I generally dislike recaps (and, even more so, "this is what will happen next week" sign-offs) when they appear in each episode, but I could do with a more thorough one at the start of each season.

Finally, the second season of Person of Interest is more than half-way through and continues to entertain and amuse. The latest development is that the all-seeing computer which draws attention to people about to be involved in a serious crime (whether as perpetrator or victim is usually unclear to begin with) is in trouble. It has become rather formulaic, but is still essential viewing.

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