Gulliver’s Travels

Life in South Africa is so odd, everything you think is normal just isn’t, and all those things you think should be completely unusual are taken in stride. I often describe living here as being stuck in the pages of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, and not in a good way. So I’ve got a soft spot for Lemuel Gulliver and his disorienting travels into Lilliput and Brobdingnag. But, whilst this latest movie version is sweet enough, and entertaining enough, it’s kind of light-weight, really and mostly pretty forgettable. It stars Jack Black (as Jack Black, apparently – this is the “All-Jack-All-the-Time-Show”), though the rest of the cast including Emily Blunt, and Catherine Tate, and James Corden and Billy Connolly, are most heinously wasted.

It is interesting though from a locations point-of-view. Two great British landmarks – Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, and the Old Royal Naval College in my old stomping ground of Greenwich, both utterly exquisite – become pint-sized palaces on cliffs by the sea. Quite effective too.


2012 is from Roland Emmerich, so you know it’s going to start with a lone scientist with his mouth open, staring at a flickering monitor going “Oh My God”. You also know there’ll be some quasi science and a bit of cultural history – here the link to the end of the Mayan calendar in 2012. There’ll be some cliched stereotypes entirely interchangeable with previous films – the divorced family, the cute kids, the alienated nutjob, the skeptic, the snarky Jew, the radio host. And then there’ll be some special effects…….

And how!! In 2012, Emmerich revisits the CGI images of his previous end-of-days melodramas and pumps them chockablock full of disco biscuits. It’s not just the White House that’s destroyed, it’s the whole of the East Coast. Los Angeles? Pah! The whole of California slips and slides into the sea. New York flooded? Try the whole planet!!

And I suppose that’s my only problem with this rollercoaster film: the special effects are so spectacular, so astounding, so vast, so entertaining, that they’re impossible to take in. Fortunately a decision was clearly made to cast good actors, so the human interest is maintained. But it’s difficult to take too seriously a story arch that wipes out India and then expects you to be moved over the rescue of a small, flat faced dog.

I’d still say it’s a must see, if only for the ride. And Cape Town survives, which has to be a good thing, right?