Killing Time Across the Pacific (Winter Break, pt II)

Most trans-Pacific flights are in the neighborhood of twelve to fourteen hours. That’s a lot of time to spend on your butt. Granted, you hope to spend some of that time sleeping, but I’ve argued for years now that sleep on an airplane does not equal sleep in a bed. Maybe one day I’ll get to try sleeping in business or first class and be proven wrong, but for now, us regular folks will just show up groggy and sleep-deprived at our destination.

Given that the sleep on an airplane is mostly worthless, I try to spend my time on long flights catching up on reading and movies. On my most recent trip to Asia I managed to watch two movies and read two books. I’ll go over the movies today, and the books in an upcoming post.

Brad Pitt plays an accidental tourist

Bullet Train. I distinctly remember seeing one (and only one) commercial for this on tv and immediately being intrigued. And then the PR for this thing fell off the map because I heard absolutely nothing about it while it ran in the theaters. Lucky for me it was available on the plane.

Now, a movie about a bunch of assassins on a bullet train sounds pretty straightforward, but the setting looked cool to me, and I’m a big fan of all the Asian actors they pulled in, so I was more than willing to go into this with a very open mind. And thank goodness because I loved this movie. My only beef is that I’m pretty sure the shinkansen was not nearly this cool when I rode it (ouch) forty-plus years ago.

I won’t go into the story here to avoid spoilers, but honestly, you just need to know that the train is filled with assassins who are all trying to kill each other, except for Brad Pitt’s character, who is just trying to make a positive change in his life. All the characters are larger than life, and it seemed like everyone really dug into their roles.

If you’re a fan of old-school samurai movies where everyone is getting chopped up left and right in complicated revenge schemes, Bullet Train is for you. It’s updated to a modern setting of course, but it’s got all the same feels.

9/10, would (and will) watch again!

Honestly, none of the movie’s posters do it any justice

Alienoid. I heard about this one from friends on Facebook and I agree with their initial assessment. The title for this movie is terrible. And frankly, so are the posters. They don’t convey really anything about what this movie is about. The Avengers can get away with this kind of collage poster because there’s so much cultural osmosis after umpteen movies, but this one? I was glad I watched the trailer, because there was no way I would have watched this from the poster.

The story is focused on an alien, Guard, and his companion, Thunder. (I wish I knew Korean, to know if these are literal translations or what.) They are prison guards from a distant alien society. They are here on earth because (and I think there’s a not subtle environmental dig here) they are literally hiding their criminal trash on earth. Inside humans. Every so often, a ship arrives to drop off some prisoners, and they’re injected into human brains. Guard and Hunter are a backstop measure in case any of the prisoners awaken inside the humans and gain control of the human body.

Crazy, right?

Well, Guard and Thunder end up kind of adopting a young girl and raising her as their daughter in order to learn more about humans. Then everything goes bananas when the prisoners engineer a break out, forcing a showdown with Guard and Thunder as they must balance protecting their daughter against securing the prisoners.

Oh, and did I mention the time travel?

Seriously, this movie is wild. The effects are great, there’s tons of action, and even plenty of humor. The movie took a bit to get to where I understood what was going on, but it was worth the wait. Everything ties together nicely at the end and my only knock on the movie is that the ending is a cliffhanger for the sequel. Well, I for sure won’t be waiting for another trans-Pacific flight to watch the next movie!

8/10, docked one point for the cliffhanger, and another for the awful title. Otherwise, great movie!

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