Sunday, September 2, 2012

Movie Rentals: In Time, TinTin

It's was movie night at the Windhams this past Labor Day weekend.  We watched two newish movies, one which I deem overrated and one underrated.

In Time sounds like such a great idea.  Instead of money, you pay with minutes of your own life.  The movie begins effectively with Will Salas (Justin Timberlake) waking up with just under 24 hours left on his clock.  When the clock runs out, that's it.  You die.  As Salas goes through the normal routine of the day, we learn that the poor all live like this, with so little time left.  Everyone has debt to pay, rent, food, transportation, etc.  Wages are slowly going down while charges and interest slowly rise.  Every day, random people die on the streets.

Everything changes when Salas meets a man with over a century left.  This man is bored with life, so he gives everything he has to Salas.  Then armed with so much time on his hand, Salas begins a journey to discover the truth behind the whole system.

The movie opens with so much promise and then it falls apart.  The action is fun to watch, but there are so many glaring errors that it's just so distracting.

For example, we watch a five minute clip of Salas traveling through several different time zones to go from the poor lands to the rich lands.  At every barrier, Salas has to pay a toll.  By the time he's finished his journey, the total cost is one whole year.  Then when something happens to leave Salas with only two hours left on his arm, he somehow makes the trip back to his hometown.  How did he get past those barriers?  Didn't it take more than two hours to get back?

Another problem is the silly battle they do similar to arm wrestling.  You try to suck the other person's time.  Salas explains to someone, "You let your own clock get close to zero, and while they're watching your clock, they don't see that their own clock is almost at zero."  But since the transfer between individuals is 1-to-1, this scenario is impossible!  If both clocks are almost at zero, where did all that excess time go?  Plus, watching these battles is amazingly non-exciting, and I don't care how much dramatic music you add.

And throughout the movie, the amount of time left on Salas's arm doesn't always make sense.  It's almost as if this movie just needed another round or two of editing ... as if this movie got rushed to be released.  I'm at a loss, as the editor, Zach Staenberg did The Matrix trilogy.  And the writer, Andrew Niccol did The Truman Show and Gattaca.  So, I'm not sure what went wrong with this movie.

Additionally, the movie builds up certain promises at the beginning that just aren't met.  There were so many devices that could have been used to make this a great movie.  Instead, it ends in a disappointing whimper.

My advice: the movie is still worth watching for the action.  If you can rent it for under $2 and have some extra time on your hand, go check it out.

The Adventures of TinTin was very enjoyable.  This is based on the TinTin cartoon series by European comic writer Herge', which began 1929.  This is one of the rare US-made movies that tanked in the US, but scored major dough in the foreign market.  It only made $77.6M in the US and $294.3M elsewhere.  It met its budget and enough to announce a sequel.

When it came out in the US last December, I avoided watching it, because when I saw the words "TinTin" and that cute little dog, my brain told me "Rin Tin Tin."  And I had no interest in watching another sappy doggy movie.  Even when I got the movie at the rental store with one of those "buy a new release and get this movie free" deals, I still thought I was getting a sappy doggy movie for the kids.

Turns out I was wrong.

It's not a sappy doggy movie, but an Indiana Jones like action flick starring a guy named Tintin.  The dog's name turns out to be Snowy.  Tintin is a reporter who helps to solve crimes and gets involved in crazy adventures.  And I'm not talking a Dora the Explorer type adventure, but rather the kind where guns are shot and people actually die.  Yes, I did say Indiana Jones.  The fact that Spielberg and Williams team up adds to this feel.

If you're not familiar with this European sensation that is Tintin, I recommend that you look into it.  There's a TV series on Netflix.  There's this movie you can rent.  Go check out what those across the pond enjoy.

Plus, this movie employs the best execution of capture-motion animation technology I've ever seen.  It all looks real, and it's not creepy (like in The Polar Express).  I was almost convinced that they had live actors playing with just a little digital touching-up, but was surprised to see that the actors look nothing like what's on the screen.  It's 100% animated.  Well done.

So, check it out.  It's possibly the most underrated film of 2011.

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