Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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War is a remarkably hard concept to portray accurately in fiction. In film’s case, a movie will often clearly let the audience know which side of the feud is good, and which side is evil. This is almost never the case in real life, however. 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (the sequel to 2011’s surprise hit “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) introduces us to a world where Apes thrive and Humans struggle for survival, and the threat of an all out war breaking out between the two groups exists that feels surprisingly very real.

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One of the film’s strongest aspects is the way it delicately handles it’s characters and their conflicts. There was never a moment where I was rooting for the humans to beat the Apes, or vice versa. It’s a smart way to tell the story and is what keeps this movie from being just another summer blockbuster. These characters feel so real and layered that it’s hard not to become attached to many of them. My personal favourite characters are Caesar (Andy Serkis) and Dreyfus (Gary Oldman). Caesar’s main conflict is that he was the only ape to see the goodness in humans, whereas all the other Apes only saw their bad side. Because of this, he is shown to have sympathy for the humans, but still keeps his guard up for the protection of his family. Dreyfus is interesting because at first glance, he seems like he would be the villain. But as the film progresses, I started to realize that his intentions were actually very nobel in his eyes. He just wants what’s best for his people, and will sometimes go to extreme measures to do so. Another character I should mention is Koba, who’s one of the apes that Caesar freed in the first movie. Caesar. Again, he seems like he would be the film’s villain, but ultimately, he’s just misguided. And much like Dreyfus and Caesar, wants what’s best for his race, and will also go to extreme measures to achieve this.

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The only characters that I thought could have been handled better were the human protagonists. They weren’t terrible, just a little less interesting then the Apes and Dreyfus. I especially found Malcom, Malcom’s son and Ellie to be fairly boring and not very memorable. Despite this, I appreciated how none of the human characters came across as villains. To be fair, there is one guy who causes some problems fro the group and the Apes, but it’s all out of fear.) It’s yet another example of how real and down to earth the film feels. When war is spoken of, it seems to be an act of desperation. The characters in this movie are not black and white, but very human and very relatable.  As for the soundtrack, I liked it. It had a very classic Planet of the Apes vibe to it without coming across as too cheesy.

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As for the Apes, what can I say? You’ve all heard they look amazing and honestly they really really do. Their movements are pretty spot on (if a little too fluid at times) And when it comes to the facial expressions and the way they interact with one another, the motion capture truly shines. I loved the use of sign language the Apes had with one another. It was to fascinating to watch it made me want to learn how to speak it. And when Caesar finally does speak english…it sent chills down my spine. There is a lot more english spoken by the Apes this time around then in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and I thought it was handled well. I’ve noticed that CGI has been very impressive this year, from Electro’s epic abilities in the Amazing Spider-man 2, to the sheer might and power of the Kaiju in Godzilla, to the convincing Apes in this. I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s leaps and bounds beyond anything I’ve seen in something like Lord of the Rings or the more recent Hobbit films (Which Andy Serkis also appeared in as Gollum), but regardless, this is a fine example of how special effects can complement the story.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is bleak, intense and thought provoking. It’s not afraid to show the harsh consequences of violence and war, and the majority of the characters feel very real. I know it’s been said before, but I could really see Andy Serkis getting an oscar for his winning performance as Caesar.   It’s the cream of the crop of the planet of the Apes franchise, as well as one of the must-see movies of the summer.

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22 Jump Street

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If you enjoyed 2012’s “21 Jump Street” then you will love 22 Jump Street. That’s pretty much the verdict of this film. There’s not too much to talk about beyond that, but I’ll try my best. 22 Jump street sees the return of the undercover cop duo Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) teaming up once again to solve another crime at a local collage. Now if that sounds familiar to you, chances are you’ve seen the first film. The writers are clearly aware of the fact that the story is recycled, so the film doesn’t attempt to be anything more then a self-aware summer comedy that has proven to be a hit with audiences.

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Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum continue to have great chemistry with one another. While I wouldn’t call myself a “fan” of either actors beforehand, I cannot deny that the way these two play off each other is brilliant. There’s an undeniable Bromance vibe between the two characters that works entirely in the the movie’s favour. While the entirety of the movie is played for laughs, their friendship feels genuine,and the two of them remain a likeable duo throughout the course of the movie. Ice Cube’s character, Captain Dickson, is definitely my favourite character. Providing some of the film’s most memorable and funny scenes as well as becoming involved in a hilarious plot twist that I won’t dare ruin for you here. The rest of the cast does a serviceable job, although none of the other characters had me laughing quite as much as the leads. The only character that I found totally forgettable was Maya ( Amber Stevens) who also happens to be Schmidt’s love interest. I just found her character boring and forgettable compared to rest of the cast. While the supporting cast failed to leave an impression on me, the leads faired much better.

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As I mentioned before, the film’s story is almost identical to the first, save for a few minor differences. Such as The self-aware humour, and the location change from a high school to a collage. Let’s face it though, chances are your not going to see 22 Jump Street expecting a terribly original story. (Despite the fact that the film’s directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, gave us the delightfully original film “The Lego Movie” earlier this year.) Actually…the more I think about it, I’m realizing that this movie also shares a lot in common with March’s “Muppets most Wanted.” Both films are sequels to successful comedies that were both surprise hits. And on one hand, the story for both films could be seen as lazy and flat, while on the other hand, both of the films style of self referential humour is what prevents them from being just plain bad. Speaking of humour The film’s sense of humour, aside from being self aware, goes for shock value and it didn’t entirely work for me. That’s not a knock against the film itself, in fact, the movie seems to be doing very well among critics and audiences alike. I guess it’s just not my kind of humour.

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22 Jump Street is perfectly serviceable for fans of the franchise, just not for me. I will admit that some parts did make me laugh hard (the end credits montage may very well be the funniest thing I have seen all year, period.) but for the most part, It came off as a little forgettable and full on humour that I just didn’t find as funny. Still, I won’t say it’s a bad movie in general. Like I’ve said time and time again, if you liked the first 21 Jump Street, do yourself a favour and go see this one. Although judging by how late this review is, chances are you probably already have.

Transformers: Age of Extinction

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I feel like I’m in an abusive relationship with the transformers movies. And it’s my fault. Everytime a new film comes out, I find myself thinking “You’ve let me down and insulted me for the last time Michael Bay! We are done!” But then as soon as the trailer for the next one comes along, I think to myself “Ooo! That looks great! When is this coming out!?” As per usual, I had hopes (If slightly hesitant hopes) that Transformers: Age of Extinction would be the entry that redeems the franchise. While I won’t go THAT far, I will say that Age of Extinction is by far the best entry in the series and a very pleasant surprise.

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One of the aspects that makes this film such an improvement over the others, for me, is the new cast. I just cared more about Mark Wahlberg and his family then I cared about the previous trilogy’s characters. I wanted to see them succeed, and even though the film runs at almost three hours, I didn’t mind spending that much time with these main characters. Mark Wahlberg’s character, Cade Yeager, is a likable protagonist that offers some of the film’s comedy as well as some of it’s heart. His daughter Tessa on the other hand, is kind of a mixed bag. She has more personality then Megan Fox, but still comes off as flat at times. Her boyfriend does fair better though, and the way him and Cage play off eachother is amusing. Stanley Tucci plays the film’s human villain, and is, as expected, a Riot. This was the first time I really enjoyed one of the human antagonists in a Transformers movie. His assistant, Su Yueming (Played by BingBing Li) isn’t quite as memorable however, and Sophia Myles’s character could have been written out entirely, and nothing about the film would have changed. Overall, the film’s cast does has it’s ups and downs, but it’s still a marked improvement for me.

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The Transformers themselves shine very brightly here. They all have personalities and are more identifiable then before. Optimus Prime in particular has an interesting character arc. His character The film’s main villain, Lockdown, is my favorite villain of the franchise thus far. What makes him so interesting is that he’s not on anyone’s side. He’s just a space bounty hunter that collects a large assortment of alien creatures, with Transformers being among them. His ship alone is truly remarkable, as much of the film’s second act takes place aboard his ship, we get to see a great variety of alien creatures and robots. (The ship itself had a very Star Wars-y feel to it. The sheer creativity of the ship brought to mind the Droid Factory sequence from “Attack of the Clones” and Jabba’s Palace from “Return of the Jedi”.) The secondary villain, Galvatron, is sadly a not utilized as much as I felt he could have been. Without giving anything away, He shares a strong connection to an older villain that, while interesting, felt almost unneeded. Still, hearing the legendary Frank Welker provide his voice was a treat. One aspect that the film’s marketing got me very excited about, was the introduction of the Dinobots. Although we don’t get to see them until the end, There’s a subtle build up to them as the movie progresses, and their reveal felt highly rewarding.

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Another aspect that’s been improved are the action scenes. In the last trilogy, The acton often looked too shaky, and it was hard to tell what was going on. In “Age of Extinction” however, not only is the Cinematography better, but the action feels like it has more weight to it. As one sequence would end, something impactful would happen. (A major character would get captured, obtain something new, ect). There is one big flaw with the movie however, and that is the film goes on for WAAAY too long. Clocking in at two and a half hours, towards the end of the movie, I was starting to feel the length. This movie would have really benefited from an intermission of some kind. The story itself is interesting, but at times it can feel a little overblown, as the movie tries to juggle it’s three villains when in actuality, it would have been just fine sticking with one. One aspect that I loved was the way it handled the climax of “Dark of the Moon”. Treating it as a 9:11-type catastrophe that the world is still healing from.

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I was ten years old when the first Transformers Movie came out. in a sense, I was the prefect age for it. As I’ve gotten older however, the films don’t seem to have aged as well as I would have hoped. Nevertheless, many of my problems with the franchise were fixed in the latest entry, which provided me with characters I cared about, Some of my favorite Transformers, an engaging story (for the most part) and a cliffhanger ending that actually got me pretty excited for the next one. (Although can we please try and keep the next one length under two hours, Michael Bay?) I’d definitely consider it the best the series has to offer. I do recommend you see it at some point, but I’d say wait for the DVD so that you can create your own intermission to prevent the film from feeling so overlong. Otherwise, If you simply MUST see it on the big screen, you’ll most likely still find yourself with a fun big summer action flick. Take it for what it is. You might be surprised.

 

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Oh…And Rainbow Dash was in it……Nice.

Updates 2: Future movie reviews, Book review and more variety

Transformers-Age-of-Extinction-HD-ImagesWelcome to my second set of updates. i’ve got some exciting news for you all today, so let’s get started!

1: Future Movie reviews. This month you will definitely be getting “Transformers: Age of Extinction” as well as “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”. I would like to see more, but it all depends on my schedule. My Transformers: Age of Extinction review will hopefully be up on July 3rd.

2: Book review. I recently obtained the “Journal of the two Sisters” Novel based off one of my favourite shows, Friendship is Magic”. I’m not used to doing reviews for literature as I am for film, but I thought it would be a neat experiment to tie it a try. Expect that shortly.

3: More variety. While I love writing movie reviews, I would like to start expressing my interests in different ways. Expect more top 5 lists, articles and maybe even some videos coming soon!

That’s all for now. Have a great day everyone!

 

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