8:00 PM, 24th March, 2012
Benjamin (Damon) is hunting for a new house - somewhere he won't be reminded of his recently deceased wife. So he buys - okay, you're ahead of me. It's my duty to warn you that it's a bit of a wait until the zoo is bought, and a tiny bit of a chore getting through the scenes that set up the characters in Benjamin's family (blunt-talking brother, charming young daughter, moody teenage son). But things pick up from there. Benjamin is essentially an urban soul who despite being (we are told) a professional adventurer seems to have barely any idea how nature works, how animals behave or how he's likely to come across to these rural folk.
The countervailing force is Kelly (Johansson), his head zookeeper. Benjamin buys the zoo to sort out his life, to delight his daughter and in the vague hope that a drastic life change will somehow improve his relationship with his son. These are all very well, but Kelly at least realises that they can wait until the animals have been fed and cared for. Director Cameron Crowe (Almost Famous, Say Anything) is renowned for being overly sentimental as a storyteller but We Bought a Zoo manages to find a middle ground between saccharine and bittersweet. The drama is gentle, as is the comedy. While the story could easily have been overwrought or melodramatic, instead it feels like real life with all the accompanying highs but not quite as devastating lows. It's a comfortable kind of movie.
10:19 PM, 24th March, 2012
Imagine a world where everyone looks 25 and can live forever. However, there is a catch: time is the currency and you have to earn it faster than you live it, or you die.
In the spirit of classic science fiction such as Logan's Run, that is the central concept of In Time.
Will Salas (Timberlake) lives in a fenced off ghetto, struggling to earn enough to keep alive and trying to not notice the bodies of people whose time's run out. A bit of bravery and good luck sees him given 100 years of free time from a very rich, world weary centenarian, and Will is out of there, looking for the good life amongst the rich.
Soon, Will comes under the scrutiny of the Timekeepers, this world's police, led by Raymond Leon (Murphy). Now Will is on the run, accused of murdering his benefactor. Will his time run out before he can clear his name?
Yes, it's pretty silly. But despite the flaws, this film has a great premise and should prompt lots of discussion afterwards. Timberlake continues to prove his worth as an actor and Amanda Seyfried is luminous as always as the rich girl who becomes his ally on the run. Critics were divided on the merits of In Time (or if it has any at all), but if you're a fan of sci-fi action flicks that don't strain the intellect too much, then you should enjoy In Time for all it's worth.