Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Andy Serkis, Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke
Plot: In the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race.
Review: Following on from the 2011 ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’, Caesar (Andy Serkis) an intelligent but sympathetic ape, leads his ragtag band of primates to the forests of San Francisco. Years later and still the leader of this tribe Caesar wonders what has become of the humans all while dealing with family and the pressures of keeping them all safe. As Caesar’s son is out one day with a friend, they come across a human, and this one meeting will start the change for the lives of not only the apes but of the humans that remain. First of all I want to address probably what is the biggest concern for most people, which is the CGI. Well I am very happy to say you really don’t need to be worried at all, seriously it’s probably the best I have ever seen. Take Caesar for example, yes he is the main character so the focus would be to make him look the best but it’s not just that it looks good but that sometimes I really wondered if there was any practical FX used because the textual imaging of the faces was just too realistic. Now, if like me you just never got around to seeing the first film but won’t have time to see it before going to see this, don’t worry, as there is enough of a backstory through media montage clips and flashbacks that means you won’t be completely lost. Creating a story that interacted the humans with the apes was always going to be challenging because why would either side help or even tolerate each other, but it is here that the writers give a fairly legitimate reason why they might come into contact with each other and with it being the source for most of what we create, necessity. From Andy Serkis’ brilliant voice talent to the acting ability of Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman, as the leaders of the survivors, I’m hard pushed to really find a negative thing to say without being really picky. That said, the run time could have been shortened by maybe ten minutes to bring it down to the even two-hour mark. All in all, it’s a great show of CGI and acting talent and easily kept up with whether or not having seen the previous film. ***/* 3/4 Stars
Director: John Carney
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Keira Knightly, James Corden, Adam Levine
Plot: A chance encounter between a disgraced music-business executive and a young singer-songwriter new to Manhattan turns into a promising collaboration between the two talents.
Review: With the beginning part of the film acting as a retrospective collision of timelines, we start the film with Steve (James Corden) having just finished a set on stage at a New York bar. He introduces (although against her wishes) his friend Gretta (Keira Knightly) as a singer songwriter and coerces her to play a song for the crowd. From here the film rewinds several times to show the back stories of Gretta and of Dan (Mark Ruffalo) and the convergence of these stories for that moment in that bar. The film is enjoyable in that the music is pretty good throughout and the story (albeit a little too much touchy feely) has substance and a pretty obvious but not mind-challenging conclusion. The acting for the most part is ok but with the ever-brilliant Mark Ruffalo carrying the film, I really wondered if the rest of the cast couldn’t have been better picked. For example, the female lead Keira Knightly is ok, but her character has to sing and quite a lot; whoever they got to replace the singing voice is just off. The only way I can explain it is like listening to Stevie Wonder while watching Lionel Ritchie (ok it’s not that bad) but it is a little off-putting. And then the person within the film that can actually sing (Adam Levine / Maroon 5) gets very little time, ok his character dictates that we don’t centre on him but still. With the good acting and great soundtrack available within, this is a film you should watch at least once (fellas maybe only on date night). But for music as well as acting and a great storyline you’d be better off with last month’s Chef. Not the greatest attempt at showing passion and emotion but with some great and ok acting as well as a good soundtrack you should still go and see it. ** 2 Stars
How to Train your Dragon 2
Director: Dean DeBlois
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera
Plot: When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the center of a battle to protect the peace.
Review: All is well in Berk and the people have never been happier and the dragons are just the same, Well except for one person and his dragon. Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is back along with his faithful friend and companion Toothless, but as usual Hiccup is unsettled. Now with the ability to get around quicker and further Hiccup starts to map the areas around Berk, all the while Hiccup’s father Stoick (Gerard Butler) is trying to keep him grounded and learn how to be chief of the island. While out with Toothless and girlfriend Astrid (America Ferrera), Hiccup catches glimpse of a smoke plume in the distance. When he goes to investigate he finds out his home of Berk and the dragons they have really are just the tip of the iceberg. Unfortunately so are the threats. Once again the voice talent on offer is top notch and with great additions in the forms of Cate Blanchett and Djimon Hounsou among others. But the most impressive thing is the CGI, since 2010 when How to Train your Dragon was released you would have hoped the visual side would look better, but I can honestly say that it is much more than that. This is a brilliant representation of when you have a good story, great acting and great directing showcased and wrapped up in a beautifully visual bow. There is a word of warning for the parents taking any child to see this, depending on the sensitivity and understanding that your child has, you may need a tissue. **** 4 Stars
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What to look out for this month:
Guardians of the Galaxy: In the far reaches of space, an American pilot named Peter Quill finds himself the object of a manhunt after stealing an orb coveted by the villainous Ronan. Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper
What If?: A story of a young man and woman who struggle to navigate their friendship, which has developed a deep romantic undercurrent. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver
Lucy: A woman, accidentally caught in a dark deal, turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman and Min-sik Choi.