Movie Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: A Movie Review

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Taking place 10 years after the first movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes takes us into a glimpse of what life would be like when a deadly simian influenza breaks out from a lab and kills billions of people across the globe, leaving the now highly intelligent apes to thrive and sorta take over the world. Set in a post-apocalyptic background, Caesar is now a full-grown alpha ape. He is in control of the all the apes and together, he and his band of brothers and sisters have built a cozy nest in a forest beyond the ruins of San Francisco. The apes have lived in peace for the last 10 years without the disturbance of humankind. They have built their own communities, learned to communicate using complex sign language, learned to hunt using weapons, as well as educating themselves ala the farm animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm. However, as we all know, peace is a fragile thing in this world. All hell breaks lose when a band of human survivors comes across the apes. Fearing that things will be chaotic, Koba, Caesar’s right hand ape, decides that the humans should know who’s in control. He, alongside Caesar and the rest of the ape clan, decides to pay the human’s colony a visit to threaten them, and to let them know that they are not afraid of them anymore, and to tell the humans to stay clear of their “home”. One tricky thing though. The humans need to get pass Caesar’s home so that they can have power again – in the form of a hydroelectric plant which sits within Caesar’s home turf.

Caesar, having a soft side for humans, allows the human team led by Malcolm, to have a few days in his home turf to do whatever they need to get the power back on. Koba on the other hand, resents humans and has a plan of his own – which ultimately goes against what Caesar believes in: Peace. How will the story unfold? You’re gonna have to find out for yourself!

There are so many things that one should be most impressed about with the movie. So I’m going to make a list of why you should be impressed with Dawn of Planet of the Apes:

1. The CGI

Honest to God, the apes look almost realistic. Remember that Planet of the Apes remake with Mark Wahlberg and the apes just look like drag queens? Well that was eons ago and today, technology has help us to create almost realistic images of apes, brought to life by animators as well as fantastic actors!

2. Andy Serkis and the Gang

The bad-ass Caesar

The bad-ass Caesar

The movie wouldn’t have been great if it weren’t for the fantastic performance of Andy Serkis as Caesar. If you do not know who Andy Serkis is, you probably have heard Gollum. Yes, he’s the guy who gave life to Gollum, and he has definitely done justice to the adult Caesar. Jason Clarke, who plays Malcolm, also gave a great performance as the man who’s trust in Caesar is so overwhelming (probably because he’s scared shitless of the ape). Last but not least, Gary Oldman as the leader of the surviving humans, Dreyfus. As always, Oldman was a sight to behold, but his character in the movie kinda reminded me of the the rundown, disheveled, confused and lost Commissioner Gordon.

3. The plot

Now, you think with so many sub-plots, you’d get lost, confused and bored. But no, not with this movie. Director Matt Reeves and writers Mack Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have crafted a story line so smooth, so heartfelt, so beautifully and intricately entwined that this movie is a worthy of an Oscar. It wasn’t just the smooth sailing story that was captivating, it was how the characters were developed and clear that you will get to sympathize and empathize with each and every single one of them. The writers really did do a great job of giving each important character a back story, without having to rely on too many unnecessary flashbacks.You will get to understand somehow from where each character comes from, and how the past has shaped them to be who they are in them movie, and determines the course of action that they will take in the future.

4. Underlying messages

Honestly, it is always a surprise to learn a lot from a movie that has been deemed to be one of Hollywood’s cliches before it was released. Honestly, I didn’t expect much from the movie and honestly, I thought it was going to be like one of those typical, message-less action movies but boy, was I wrong. Underneath all that ape grunting, violence and struggles between both humanity and ape, lies a profound message that this world truly needs: Peace. Caesar has been adamant about his quest to keep the peace within his tribe and yet Koba, the violent one, dares to challenge his authority to fight for what he believes in – to eradicate the humans. The humans want nothing more than surviving and having coped with the devastating effects of what they had done to each other, must now learn to survive against the imminent threat of the apes. The message here is simple: Peace is fragile, and with a slight misstep could lead to a war that can never be stopped. There are basically two themes in this movie: Peace and Trust. The word “trust” is a recurring theme in the movie, with Caesar showing loyalty towards Koba, his trust towards Malcolm and Malcolm towards Caesar. I think Peace and Trust go together very well and it is understood from the movie that when one offsets the balance of one of those themes, whatever tranquility that has been achieved will greatly be affected.

Malcolm and Caesar sharing an intimate moment together.

Malcolm and Caesar sharing an intimate moment together.

I think Reeves and his band of writers succeeded in coming up with a complex yet stunning movie without having to try too hard. The story just flows from one scene to another and the plot holes are hard to detect when you are so engrossed seeing the battle between ape and men. The juxtaposition of the characters of the apes and the humans are well constructed and leaves much room for discussion. Is this an Oscar worthy movie? Maybe, maybe not. But Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has succeeded Rise of the Planet of the Apes with a darker, much more complex plot yet beautifully executed by Reeves and his team.

If you have not watched this movie, I advise you do.

Rating: 4.8/5.0

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Movie Review

Transformers: Age of Extinction : A Movie Review

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Transformers: Age of Extinction is without a doubt one of the most anticipated blockbusters of 2014. Nabbing a whooping $302 million on its opening weekend alone, this Michael Bay film makes a big entrance, becoming 2014’s biggest movie opening. I went to watch it a couple of days ago and I wanted to write a review about it just as soon as I got home, but then I forgot and I got busy (and lazy) but here it is!

Does the strong number suggests that Transformers 4 was a good movie? It sure was full of action – Michael Bay style, of course – but for 2 hours and 45 minutes you will get glued to your seat (in not a great glued-to-your-seat kind of way) watching confusing camera angles and movements, robots smashing each other, explosives and the occasional shots of the damsel in distress being all distressed but still looking oh-so-gorgeous. You want to see Dinobots? You have them! You want to see Lockdown? You’ve got it! You want to see Bumbledee acting like a dick of a teenager robot with serious discipline issues – yeaps that’s in the movie too. So what made this movie (in my opinion to be dull, bordering painful to watch at some points) become one of 2014’s biggest box office smash?

It’s simple really. Boys will definitely come for the robots and the babe, Nicola Peltz (more on her as we go further in this review). The robots have of course transformed to become more bad-ass. Optimus Prime’s body got tougher and shinier.

Optimus Prime's truck newly painted and designed truck form

Optimus Prime’s truck newly painted and designed truck form

Bumblebee’s upgraded look was fresh and young, akin to the robot’s personality, and the three other Autobots Hound, Drift and Crosshairs also add their own (annoying) personality to the bunch.

Bumblebee's upgraded form.

Bumblebee’s upgraded form.

 

from left to right - Drift, Bumblebee (pre-upgrade), Crosshairs and Lockdown's car form.

from left to right – Drift, Bumblebee, Crosshairs and Lockdown’s car form.

Megatron got his own upgrade, but his upgrade includes a new name – Galvatron. In the cartoon series, you would know that Galvatron’s pre-robot look is a huge-ass gun, but in this movie, they decided to make Galvatron an evil version of Optimus Prime’s truck form. Really, they could at least turn Galvatron into a full-metal tank or jet or something. There’s also a Bumblebee upgrade called Stinger, but you don’t really see them fight until towards the end, which sucked. Also, there’s this robot-bounty hunter by the name of Lockdown who’s face can pop up a gun at will. That was kinda cool.

Galvatron's truck form.

Galvatron’s truck form.

 

Lockdown has a gun on his face!

Lockdown has a gun on his face!

Now moving on to the humans. Goodbye Shia, and hello Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor. This three got themselves tangled in the web of robots vs. humans war when Wahlberg’s character Cade “saved” Optimus from being destroyed or killed by a renegade group of CIA agents working for Lockdown. The main highlight of the movie in my opinion was not the robots, but Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of the obnoxious, driven, wise-ass character, James Savoy. James, a brilliant and pushy scientist/entrepreneur is collecting precious metal they called Tranformium (or something like that) so humans can have our own robot army. Smart, but the complication starts when James needed The Seed to have an abundance of metal material which he can only get from Lockdown, of which the CIA is working for. James Savoy’s character and how he was “designed” reminds me of Steve Jobs. Another honourable mention is Bing Bing Li. This Chinese actress has already made a name for herself by staring in X-Men: Days of Future Past as the transport-warping, portal creator mutant, Bink. What her real function was in the movie though, remains some sort of mystery to me. She plays some sort of Chinese diplomat for Savoy’s company and later on… ah, not gonna spoil it.

The Humans: Wahlberg plays inventor/engineer Cade Yeager, Nicola Peltz plays his daughter Tessa and Jack Reynor is Tessa's Irish, race-car boyfriend Shane Dyson.

The Humans: Wahlberg plays inventor/engineer Cade Yeager, Nicola Peltz plays his daughter Tessa and Jack Reynor is Tessa’s Irish, race-car boyfriend Shane Dyson.

 

Stanley Tucci as the Steve-Jobs-esque James Savoy.

Stanley Tucci as the Steve-Jobs-esque James Savoy.

I bet your eyes and your mind just got tangled. Well I’m gonna stop typing about the movie and move on to my critic.

The movie was 2 hours 45 minutes long, a little too long for a movie about robots battling each other and humans getting involved. The back-story for Wahlberg’s and Peltz’s characters itself took close to one hour. And then there were the subplots of CIA renegades hunting Autobots and killing them to get to Optimus, the greed and dilemma of being James Savoy, the love story between Reynor’s and Peltz’s character. Urgh, I just got tired and numb just writing all of this down. The one thing that was obvious (at least to me) about the movie was how it became a platform for advertising. You’ll see Tom Ford, Victoria’s Secret, Goodyear, and a “Visit Hong Kong” poster.

I’m just gonna keep this simple. It’s not a great movie, but if you love action and you don’t mind the crazily confusing story line and bad acting (Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor), then it’s your cup of tea. Nicola Peltz was so bad I almost gagged looking at her acting. I mean, Rosie Huntington was bad too but at least she was gorgeous. Nicola was just flat and boring and predictable. ¬†For me, Stanley Tucci saved the whole movie from being dead boring because honestly, it was. There was nothing different between this fourth Transformers film and its predecessors because honestly, one can only get bored of robots battling each other for the “sake of humankind”. Honestly, I didn’t appreciate what the designers did with the Dinobots because I expected cooler, less predictable, less dull designs. Overall, it’s an o.k. movie for you to enjoy with your family and your dudes but 2 hours 45 minutes was way too long for this movie.

Rating: 3.0/5

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