Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer
Have I Seen it Before: I really was pretty sure that I had, but as I watched the movie on this screening, it became pretty clear that I’ve only ever seen bits of it. My wife loves it, and so I must have, over the course of ten years, seen about half an hour of it.
Did I Like It: The fact that just half an hour feels like a more than complete experience of the movie, should tell you something. Ultimately, its unfair to expect me to like it, but here we go.
Something about the fantasy genre usually bugs me. J.R.R. Tolkien may be a master wordsmith, but the legacy of having to excruciatingly detail your world building in fantasy is often mind-numbingly boring and stops any forward momentum in the story when in the hands of lesser writers.
Now, Neil Gaiman is not a lesser writer. In fact, he is one of the greats. That only makes me expect more from him, and maybe the book from which the film springs is different, but this is entirely too much run-of-the-mill fantasy material for me to recommend it in any way. The first ten minutes are weighed down by a lead balloon of VO narration by the admittedly pleasant Ian McKellen and wandering plot lines that never quite pay off.
The rest of the film is pleasant enough, I suppose, but never quite outgrows the turgid first half an hour. Maybe the big performances of Pfeiffer and De Niro are meant to be fun, but in the context of this film she feels too kitschy for her own good, and it’s been years since De Niro has approached a film role with more focus than I make a left-hand turn.