So the advantage of long flights is the number of hours you can spend reading and watching movies without a shred of guilt to get in the way. I tend to bounce between catching up with stuff I really wanted to see but didn’t (for whatever reason) and watching things I would never otherwise have given a second glance.

So, having not been to the movies this year so far (and having missed most of last year’s releases), I have now seen:

Mockingjay Pt I
Another excellent installment in The Hunger Games franchise, both in terms of fidelity to the source material and as a film in its own right. It’s probably my favourite of the films so far, in part because it doesn’t deal with the Capitol, so doesn’t feature the horrid (if appropriate) art direction that set my teeth on edge. I’ve heard it criticised as ‘a rubbish half-a-film, like Harry Potter 7 Pt I’, but as Harry on Camping is one of my favourite Potter films, I don’t consider that a bad thing – and I actually think Mockingjay has slightly better pacing and climax/cliffhanger than HP7A. I’m really looking forward to the final one.

Guardians of the Galaxy
I’m sorry, I know everyone loves it, but I don’t get it. It’s a collection of well-trodden tropes chucked together with some puerile humour and a dreadful script that we’re not meant to notice because the CGI was quite good and everyone likes the soundtrack, right? (no, sorry, don’t get that either. Not my era) Also, the villains were just plain lazy. So I mostly want to punch the scriptwriters in the face, since clearly there will be sequels as it was inexplicably popular. Don’t worry, I won’t go see them so you can all enjoy them in peace 😉

Disclaimer It seems only appropriate to point out I didn’t like Star Trek on first viewing either, and it’s now one of my favourite films of recent years. So obviously I may do a complete U-turn for your amusement if I’m forced to sit through it again, perhaps on a bigger screen and less tired. I’d rather watch Watchmen, and can vouch for how much I enjoyed that. Although I would rewatch GotG over being forced to watch a Michael Bay movie, so it could be worse.

Birdman
Birdman, on the other hand, was excellent. Smart script, superb casting and clever clever camera work. I’m not sure I really think it deserved Best Picture, but I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. Also, I’m not sure there’s been a more perfect casting than Ed Norton here. One day someone will tell me that he’s a genuinely wonderful person who does wonderful things for other people on an hourly basis, and… I’ll pinch myself. He probably is, but he does self-absorbed shit really, really well.

Wild
Low-key, but there’s lots to like – decent performances (albeit surely not Oscar-bait – was it just a weak year?) from Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern, beautiful scenery and a haunting score. Plus a cameo from Michiel Huisman (mmmmm). But the film didn’t succeed in achieving the emotional engagement it was aiming for, so it would be far too easy for me to get very glib about the story it’s based on.

TV
I also got to watch about half of S4 of Game of Thrones, and I find I’m in no rush to watch the rest. Although well done the showrunners on their portrayal of Prince Oberyn. That said, I think I’ve found this before – I binge watch GoT because the seasonal pacing is off so it starts slow, pops out something awesome, loses itself in an eddy, then delivers again in 3 amazing episodes at the end.

I turned off The Walking Dead after one episode of S4 not because I wasn’t enjoying it (on the contrary: I’m now really keen to watch the season, which I wasn’t by the end of S3) but because I was uncomfortable watching it on an aeroplane. Bizarre. GoT nudity and brutality: fine, because everyone else already watched it, right? Zombie gore? Not so much. Also those accents are really hard to make out over engine noise 😉 But a tip of my hat to the writers – they always do really good first episodes in terms of setting the scene, refreshing the context and moving things right along. Plus (in this case) delivering a shameless video game sequence in the supermarket.