Trans-Atlantic Movie Reviews

It’s that time of the year again when Automattic flies all of us from our 70 different countries around the world to one place for our annual Grand Meetup. Located at the southern end of Africa as I am, that means quite a lot of flying for me – around 21 hours flight time, with 33 hours total travel time for me this time around.

Being stuck in an uncomfortable chair with a stranger in your lap and a man-spreader digging his elbows into your ribs, you do what you can to maintain your sanity. For me, that’s making full use of the in-flight entertainment system to catch up on some movies.

Here’s what I watched on my way to Orlando, and what I thought:

Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse

Okay, so I was dubious about this one. Spiderpig? Really? But I’ve seen some good reviews, and I’ve watched some weird stuff on planes to keep from going bonkers, and was pleasantly surprised.

It is really good. The animation is unique – it feels like watching an animated comic book, right down to the pixelated printing and occasional colour bleed. It’s by far the best Spiderman origin story I’ve seen (full disclosure – comics have never been a big thing in South Africa, so my frame of reference are the previous Spiderman films which all focus on Peter Parker), the humour is subtle but effective, and I think I might have a bit of a crush on Gwanda.

And I love, love, LOVE this Aunt May. I wish she had more screen time.


I was dubious about this one as well – With the exception of Wonder Woman and Aquaman, not much good has come out of DC (okay, so Man of Steel was decent, but the best part, the bit set on Krypton, only lasts the first ten minutes or so), and the previews I saw of Shazam had a very slapstick feel to them, so I wasn’t sure that it was something I’d enjoy.

I was pleasantly surprised. I laughed out loud several times, and bawled my eyes out (I really should stop watching family-themed films when I’m sleep-deprived and on a plane that’s taking me away from mine).

Unlike the “DC Cinematic Universe” or whatever they’re calling it films, Shazam doesn’t take itself seriously at all, but at the same time it has all the feels to make it a very moving family film. This serves to make a superhero movie that’s light-hearted but thoughtful, and thoroughly entertaining.

Lego Movie 2: The second part

I’m an unabashed fan of the Lego Movies, including the Batman one. I was excited to see what happens next to Emmet and the gang.

I didn’t like it quite as much as the first one, but it has some good gags if you pay attention. The “moral of the story” bit at the end felt a bit forced, but (and it may be the sleep deprivation speaking again) still sweet.

Marvel, why won’t you return their calls?

Alita: Battle Angel

Another one I probably wouldn’t have watched otherwise (noticing a pattern? I get adventurous (or is it desperate) in my movie consumption when flying, sometimes to my great regret (please never ask me about Into the Woods, or Pan.)

It’s a good movie. The animation is superb, the action scenes are intense, and the world-building is amazing. I think I lost track of the story a bit at one point, but I also get the feeling that there’s more to the story that did not make it into the film. As the film is based on a Japanese Manga series, that’s probably very likely.

Captain Marvel

This one’s a rewatch – first time I’m rewatching it after seeing it in the cinema last year.

I still love it, and it’s probably my favourite film from the MCU (competition is Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok). Captain Marvel is definitely one of my favourite Marvel superheroes (along with Thor, Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange, and Black Panther).

Don’t really have much to say, except I can’t wait for my daughter to be old enough that I can watch this with her. Since becoming dad to a little girl I’ve gained a much greater appreciation for the need for strong female role models I can point her to, and I would not mind one bit if she grew up to be the kind of woman as Carol Danvers as portrayed in this film.

Doctor Who: The Day of the Doctor

Also a rewatch. One of my all-time favourite Doctor Who episodes, and it was a very pleasant surprise to see it available on Delta’s in-flight entertainment.

That’s not 20 hours’ worth of movies, I know. I did also try to sleep a bit, and for the first time struck up a very pleasant conversation with a fellow-traveller, which helped kill some more time. For the first time ever I also sat behind someone who didn’t recline their chair at all during the flight, so no stranger in my lap. I did still manage to get a seat next to a spreader, but all in all, in terms of movies and just general flying, this was one of my more pleasant journeys of the past few years.

6 thoughts on “Trans-Atlantic Movie Reviews

  1. On a long flight once, they were showing–I think it was Princess Diaries 2. That was before you had a choice. It was so bad that I managed to fall asleep. I’ve been grateful to it ever since.

    I’ve often wondered if manspreaders did that to other men or if they only thought they could get away with it next to women. You have my sympathy, but I’m glad to have my question answered. And it’s actually good to know that at least some of them are equal-opportunity jerks.


    1. Ooh! I actually remember those days. Of course, airlines are now starting to phase out individual screens again – they want people to use their tablets/smart phones instead to stream content from the plane’s entertainment system. That will be what finally gets me to buy a tablet – the idea of being stuck in a metal tube for 10+hours without movies is horrifying…

      Manspreaders definitely don’t discriminate (or perhaps it’s just very clear I’m not an alpha-male, so they know they can get away with it).


  2. I haven’t seen any of these movies (except ‘Day of the Doctor, of course…) – I gather ‘Alita – Battle Angel’ is very good for its genre & it’s on my list though. It’s funny how movies that would be dismissed as ‘meh’ suddenly gain appeal on flights. I remember being very pleasantly surprised by one of the ‘Transformer’ movies that way. I must admit, this was also how I managed to read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ – I made sure it was the ONLY book I had on a flight to Sydney once…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I gather ‘Alita – Battle Angel’ is very good for its genre

      That’s a very accurate way to put it.

      I remember being very pleasantly surprised by one of the ‘Transformer’ movies that way.

      I enjoyed them all the first time around, but on rewatching they all reveal themselves as just a bunch of random action scenes barely held together by the plot. Bumblebee which came out last year is a pleasant exception to this (though I also watched that one on a plane 🙂 )

      I must admit, this was also how I managed to read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ – I made sure it was the ONLY book I had on a flight to Sydney once…

      Wait, so you did that on purpose?

      Inferno permanently cured me of Dan Brown…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes – I saw Bumblebee – went on a family outing last Christmas. I had due doubts but it was indeed a pleasant exception to the usual ‘Lego-in-a-blender-in-lieu-of-plot’ Transformers genre experience. And – uh – yeah, I deliberately engineered being trapped on an aircraft with ‘The Of Vinci Code’. I really wanted to see how he’d done it, but couldn’t bring myself to actually read the thing without some form of coercion…


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