The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

When Walter Mitty was seventeen, his dad died suddenly. With the family left destitute, young Walter was forced to give up his dreams to support his mother and sister. He ends up working in Negative Management at Life Magazine, where he’s the sole trusted recipient of the award-winning photo-journalist Sean O’Connell’s masterpieces. Life though is about to be closed down, and Sean sends one final negative that he believes represents the quintessence of the magazine, which management wants for the cover. Problem is, the negative is missing, and Walter sets out – for Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan – to track down Sean and the missing photo.

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Directed and starring Ben Stiller, I actually loved the movie. It’s got just the right balance of whimsy and adventure, of joy and bittersweet sadness, of disappointments and reasons for optimism. It’s absolutely beautifully filmed too, and I challenge anyone – this coming from me who’s never set foot on a skateboard – to watch the scene where Walter skates across Iceland and come away unmoved.

All the non-US scenes filmed in Iceland actually, and the movie’s pretty much a 90 minute film tourism advert for the beauties of that far flung and lonely island. Ben Stiller does a great video promo for both the film and the country here.

Oblivion

Liked Oblivion. Didn’t love it. It’s stylistically extremely appealing – the machines are fantastic – and the Icelandic locations are jaw-dropping.

Oblivion

Overall though, it just reeks of Tom Cruise’s overwhelming ego. He plays himself, basically – the inscrutable leather-jacket-and-raybans-wearing, motor-bike riding loner without an identity, without a past – a character we’ve seen him do again and again and again. Here he’s part of a two-person clean-up crew stationed on Earth. His partner is a creepy redhead woman he doesn’t love (hi Nicole!) and their joint role is to mop up after a thwarted alien invasion that’s resulted in full-scape evacuation to the moon Titan, fending off the last surviving Scavs and repairing fighting drones in the process. Throw in some Mad Maxy humanoids, a bit on cloning, some Super Intelligence, Morgan Freeman being Morgan Freeman, and a love story with a mysterious woman emerging out of hyper sleep, and you’ve got a miss-mash; it couldn’t really make up its mind whether it was a thriller, a psychological drama, an idyllic romance or some robust outdoor adventure. So, as I said, I liked it, just didn’t love it.