In the early 1950’s, three Dutch women, Esther (Anna Drijver), Marjorie (Elise Schaap) and Ada (Karina Smulders), meet one another for the first time on a KLM flight from London to Christchurch, New Zealand where they expect to meet their husbands and fiancées. During that flight, which was part of what’s known as “The Last Great Air Race,” the women flirt with Frank (Waldemar Torenstra), a sexy young man who ends up falling in love with Ada. Ada, though, has already gotten married to another man, Derk (Micha Hulshof), whom she doesn’t truly love. Esther, a fashion designer, meets her fiancé but soon splits up with him after he forces her to practice Jewish customs. Marjorie marries Hans (Mattijn Hartemink) and, desperate to have a child of her own, accepts Esther’s newborn son as their own to take care of. The three women reunite years later at the funeral of Frank.
The premise itself may seem ripe for a captivating, poignant, sweeping story, but, unfortunately, the contrived screenplay by Marieke van der Pol leaves much to be desired because, more often than not, it veers right into soap opera territory. If it weren’t for the nudity during Ada and Frank’s love-making scene or the violent altercation when Ada’s husband unsurprisingly shows up at Frank’s farm when Ada’s there, Bride Flight could easily be a Lifetime move-of-the-week. Scenes that should be moving feel hackneyed instead. You’ll even find yourself rolling your eyes at times. Director Ben Sombogaart moves the pace along briskly, and the transitions between the flashback scenes and funeral reunion flow smoothly. There’s plenty of lush, picturesque scenery to be found, but is that really enough to keep audiences engaged? The performances are decent albeit nothing to write home about. Essentially, the film suffers from almost the same exact symptoms that Water for Elephants had, and to top it all off, both films overstay their welcome by at least 30 minutes. At a running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes, Bride Flight is a hackneyed, overlong soap opera with decent performances, a seemingly interesting premise and beautiful scenery, but neither of those can compensate for its contrived, unmoving and often pedestrian screenplay.
Queen of the Sun
Road to Nowhere
The Salvation Poem
Pablo Olivares (Gonzalo Senestrari) comes from a devout Christian family, but when his workaholic father, Roberto (Fernando Rossaroli), doesn't give him enough attention, he joins a rock band, begins to believe in occultism, and, eventually, makes a pact with the devil. He shows a total lack of respect for his mother, Carmen (Irina Alonso), who truly cares about him so much that she prays for him in hopes of saving their relationship as well as his soul.
Co-screenwriters Eduardo Marando, Omar Quiroga and Alejandro Robino blend the genres of drama, musical and fantasy with very uneven and awkward results because one moment the film feels sincere and touching while the next it becomes rather silly and unintentionally funny. It's safe to say that the plot has its fair share of surprises because you won't be able to predict what will transpire, so at least there's some suspense to be found. The messages about the power of prayer, love and compassion as well as the importance of family feels inspiration. Moreover, director Brian Dublin should be commended for the stylish cinematography and editing that's quite invigorating.
In the summer of 1979, a group of friends, Joe (Joel Courtney), Charles (Riley Griffiths), Cary (Ryan Lee), Preston (Zach Mills) and Alice (Elle Fanning), gather together in small-town Ohio to make a Super 8 zombie film, “The Case,” to enter the Cleveland Film Festival. While filming the movie at night by a railroad, they witness a pick-up truck derailing a high-speed train. The pick-up truck’s driver happens to be science teacher at the kids’ middle school, happens to briefly remain alive following the crash, and happens to warn the boys not to tell anyone about the accident before he succumbs to his injuries. To add to the coincidences, Joe’s widowed father, Jackson (Kyle Chandler), happens to be a police officer who holds a grudge against Alice’s father (Ron Eldard). The kids continue shooting their zombie film using the accident as a backdrop to add more production value.
Why did the science teacher derail the train? What are those little white cubes that fell off the train? Why are people disappearing and dogs running away from the town? What might the government be trying to cover-up? All the answers to those questions can be easily found within the first 30 minutes unless you’re as perceptive and intelligent as Sarah Palin. Therefore, there’s no room left for surprises or, most importantly, suspense. Writer/director J.J. Abrams pays homage to sci-fi classes like E.T., Close Encounters of the Third Kind and even a sprinkle of dramas such as Stand by Me, but the main problem with the film is that it’s so uneven that it never ends up finding an interesting tone or personality of its own. Each child actor, especially Elle Channing, gives a terrific performance and has a bright future in the world of acting; they just need to find projects with better scripts.
Suspension of disbelief is necessary while watching any sci-fi movie, but, concurrently, there’s always a limit to the amount of illogical elements that you can comfortably gloss over without feeling like they’re insulting your intelligence. Every film should at least adhere to its own internal logic. Super 8, though, fails to do that for the most part and heads right for that limit as soon as the science teacher survives, albeit ephemerally, the head-on collision with a train in his pick-up truck. By the time the 20th illogical moment transpires later in the 2nd act, you’ll find yourself rolling your eyes in disbelief. The 3rd act, which should have felt the most thrilling and exhilarating, wraps things up so quickly that it feels too rushed, messy and underwhelming.
On a purely aesthetic level, Abrams includes nifty special effects, but particularly during the scene of the crash, he overdoes the anamorphic lens flare which means there are distracting blue strips of light that flash every now and then. Other than that minor visual setback, the sound design and editing are both first rate and impressive.
At a running time of just under 2 hours, Super 8 is an underwhelming sci-fi adventure with nifty special effects and strong performances by its child actors, but it’s weakened by a bland, uneven screenplay that lacks palpable thrills, suspense and internal logic. “The Case,” the short film-within-the-film, on the other hand, has an abundance of wit, surprises and tongue-in-cheek humor to spare, so please be sure to stay through the credits to watch it.