Christmas time; mulled wine, dodgy jumpers, a significant number of relatives: I had the whole shebang. Thankfully, there was also some time spare to spend with the good ol' DVD player and a few films, I even made it through the UK snow (in case you don't know: when it snows here, everything stops) to the cinema to see Avatar. In all, my film Christmas was a pretty darn good one combining some old classics with some great new releases with some... erm... chick flicks... well, Christmas is the time for giving.
There will be a couple of reviews in the following days of notable watchings but in summary - here's what I fed my eyes this Christmas.
There isn't a bigger film out there this Winter than Avatar and the box office numbers are starting to prove it. Like all big releases it's been hyped and commented on massively both in the blogosphere and all over the press so it's included here because I'm not going to add another weighty article to that ever-growing list.
Despite some comments prior to seeing it I went into Avatar with an open mind. The trailers were un-impressive, the clips released didn't set the world alight: I think people were right to be sceptical from the early footage released and I think the backlash at the 'Internet nerds' by some 'proper' film critics and movie personalities was by people who had forgotten, or even hadn't bothered to watch, the un-inspiring first trailer.
And, as such, I came out of Avatar probably the same way I've come out of most massive blockbusters; I was impressed at the effects, entertained by the story, disappointed at the script, suffering from a feeling of 'haven't I seen this before?' and generally as mindlessly satisfied as you should be having watched such a movie. It's not a classic, the 3D is immersive although I can't say it made it a better film, the plot is tried and tested and the dialogue is occasionally as awful as people say. It's a good film with some problems that don't necessarily hamper your enjoyment of it.
So there we go, hype over, can we move on now please?
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Ah that's better, a proper classic! Seriously, I don't think The Muppet Christmas Carol gets its dues when the Christmas lists start up in mid-December. It's an extremely funny adaptation with all the cameos you'd expect, a great human anchor in Michael Caine and some really great songs which people somehow manage to forget; altogether now... 'We're Marley and Marley...'
Home Alone 2
A childhood favourite, the Home Alone series is generally accepted as starting off as OK-ish family fare and deteriorating into mediocre, TV films which you can play through your window at Christmas to show want-to-be robbers that no-one with any taste lives there. I didn't remember the second one being too bad and it's really not, providing the usual plethora of slap-stick laughs to keep you ho-ho-hoing. More than the first one though, it did feel like the first two acts were all build-up to the final confrontation with Marv and Harry, whilst the bird-woman feels shoehorned in and is never developed properly. At least that final battle doesn't disappoint, shame I brought the missus the full box set!
The Hangover has gone from being a critical darling to being a critical whipping stick, people apparently regularly throwing criticism at listers who have it in their top 10 of the year or even decade. For me, The Hangover was extremely funny and the first film since American Pie to nail the comedy of a generation extremely accurately. Because of this, it doesn't surprise me that people are putting it high on lists - it is a film that speaks to the generation it depicts and while it may not have a message, it doesn't necessarily need to when the jokes are this funny and the setups so well thought out. I laughed a lot and enjoyed it immensely. Wouldn't make my top 10 though by the way.
Just like a nation of 3D aliens staring out from billboards - I've gone Blue. I finally invested in a Blu-ray player and got what I believe to be a fairly tidy Sony one for under £100. I've seen them working in shops, I've heard friends talk them up and I'm all for new technology. However, as of yet, I'm fairly un-impressed. I haven't seen a big explosion hungry action film on it yet, in fact, I've only watched part of a film on it so far (There Will Be Blood) but for me it doesn't seem to offer much more than its DVD counterpart. Maybe it's my TV, maybe it's because I haven't watched something all the way through but at the minute, I have to say I'm struggling to justify my £95 investment. Time will tell.
There's more to come from a couple of Christmas viewings and later this week I'll look at Oscar contender The Hurt Locker and a late contender for my least favourite film of The Noughties, The Women.
Avatar reviews are everywhere but you could do far worse than this Total Film one which I think is one of the best pieces of journalism I've read recently and Mad Hatter's review is also well worth a read.