Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Movie Review: Air

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So I haven't done any movie reviews in a long time. I usually don't do them because by the tine I see a movie it's been out for months. Usually. Well, the same was true of Air, but because it was an indie (it never even came to theaters by me) fewer people know about it. Besides, it was a dystopian flick and I've been doing Dystopian Wednesdays on IG and FB, so I figured, why not?

*FYI: Even though I talking about the ending in terms of whether it was fitting or not, I really do stay largely away from spoilers*

I'll admit the main reason I wanted to see this (other than the dystopian genres) was because of the actors. I really love both these guys and thought they did an excellent job. But I fully recognized that awesome actors can still do B movies, so I figured there was a good chance that it wouldn't be the awesomest film ever.

But actually, I REALLY liked this. Way more than I thought I would. 

Plot: So basically something happened that brought the world to an end (typical post-apocalyptic stuff) and the surface is no longer able to sustain life. Somehow, society managed to save a handful of people. The ones they picked are the kinds of people who will be able to rebuild the world when it's inhabitable again. So scientists, botanists, etc. But they're all in these sleeping chambers. The two main characters, Bauer (Norman Reedus) and Cartwright (Djimon Hounsou) are just techs. They wake up ever six months, check on everything, make sure it's all working right, then go back to sleep for another six months. They only have two hours of air to get everything done before the system shuts down to conserve oxygen and they go back to sleep. This cycle will continue until the world is inhabitable again. But this time, things start to go wrong. 

Characters: For such a short window to develop the characters, I thought they did an excellent job. We saw how they were casually with one another, how they were under stress. We saw their flaws, their pretenses, and their dichotomies. Cartwright (Djimon Hounsou) was the more solemn, thoughtful one, but he's keeping secrets. Bauer (Norman Reedus) was way more non-chalant about things, as though he didn't really care one way or the other what's going on (I think he only calls Cartwright by his name once. The rest of the time he just addresses him as 'Buddy.') but we quickly learn that he values loyalty, but also has a disloyal past that haunts him. Just really well-rounded characters for a story like this. I was really impressed. Even though one is obviously meant to be more the hero, and the other more the antagonist, I really couldn't love or hate either one of them. They were just so very human. 

Dystopian screen cap from movie.
World-Building: I thought the world-building was adequate for what we had to work with here. Likemany flicks like this, we aren't given a full explanation for what actually happened. We get a good idea through replayed news broadcasts and things, but never a full explanation. We do get a great shot of the decimated surface. This kind of thing is one of my favorite aspects of dystopian films. I love shots like this!

Another thing I thought was interesting was that aging didn't seem to be a problem. At one point Cartwright talks about how it might take as little as 30 cycles for the earth to become inhabitable again, or as many as one hundred. They don't address the aging directly, but neither of them seems to be worried that they'll die before the hundred cycles are up. So I guess whatever gaseous substance they're using to put themselves to sleep must also slow down or stop the aging process. Obviously these two guys age a couple of hours each time they wake up, but that's it. The "Sleepers" as the other survivors are called, don't seem to age at all. Just kind of an interesting element to the story.

Ending: There's definitely some tragedy here, but that's typical of dystopians. Overall, I really liked the ending. I thought it was fitting for the characters, and it didn't leave me feeling like there should have been more.

Here's the thing: there are two kinds of dystopian stories out there: the kind that focus on how the best of the human spirit comes into play in extreme circumstances, and the kind with more of a Lord of the Flies bent where the worst parts of human beings come out in those same circumstances. I really don't like the latter stories. I'm always disappointed in them. And don't get me wrong, even the ones that focus on hope usually have a few characters that go to the darkest parts of their psyches and stay there, but I prefer to focus on the hope for the main characters.

This film was interesting because it was definitely a mixture of the two. Both these guys were decent and doing the best they could, but they still had some deep trust issues. And yet, those trust issues weren't unwarranted. I didn't find it to be unrealistic or unnecessarily dark. And overall, it definitely ended with hope, which made me like it. Thumbs up for the ending, even if there was some sadness to it. 

Overall: Well it's a small sort of story, but still deep and thought-provoking. Don't go into it thinking it's gonna change your life or anything, but as I said, I liked it WAY more than I thought I would. I'd totally watch it again. :D

Has anyone else seen Air? Did you like it?

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