Review: Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017)

8

“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to. That’s the only way to become what you are meant to be.”
– Kylo Ren

SYNOPSIS: Rey develops her newly discovered abilities with the guidance of Luke Skywalker, who is unsettled by the strength of her powers. Meanwhile, the Resistance prepares to do battle with the First Order. – via IMDB

Oh my gooooosh! I loved this. Yeah, I hear there is some hate, but there is a lot of love, too. I am one of those that thought this was really good. After The Force Awakens, I have been so amped to see where the story goes, and The Last Jedi totally rewarded for my excitement, for the most part (even with the little niggles).

Kylo Ren is baaaaack bitches, and he is freaking awesome! This is something my husband and I will debate for many years to come. This time around we get to see more of Adam Driver’s face and that gorgeous hair, and man, we totally got to explore more of his conflict. Imagine your legacy is Anakin and Luke Skywalker, the light side and the dark? Polar opposites. Imagine that you have been manipulated by someone and it was easy to do so because someone you trusted betrayed you (from what you could see), and you are a kid? Confusion! I love it. I could watch that battle rage forever.

There were new things introduced in this one, too. Kylo’s new plan  has definitely piqued my interest. War profiteering reared its head in here, too, so there was some social commentary on the go. I was so pleased to see BB-8 back in action, he is so adorable! Poe, too, is back in action. The Last Jedi brings up some really solid, strong moments for our female cast, and has some awesome action sequences, too. So it is great to watch like that. I quite enjoyed Beneicio del Toro’s appearance, and would like to see if he pops up again.

Let’s not deny that the movie had flaws – those freaking porgs annoyed me. Cute the first time you saw them, and then they were just jammed in all over the show. There is the super cheese between Finn and Rose, which also got a bit annoying quickly. Also, a lot of questions that JJ Abrams had set up in The Force Awakens were glibly answered here (I am hoping they go back and give us real, fleshed out answers, because if these are the answers, that is bitterly disappointing). Another thing, the story is not overly solid, and the pacing is a little off at times, but nothing too extreme. I was totally engrossed, even with the hiccups. I adore Andy Serkis, for reals, and I really wish there was more to Snoke than we eventually got – so short lived and a bit meh 😦

There is a lot of back and forth about Luke Skywalker and his role here. I expected to see more Luke Skywalker, and I didn’t think he would be quite so bitter and ready to end the Jedi lines like he has, though it brings up the notion that the Force is not just accessible by a small group of elite individuals. Not sure where this is going, but I will give them enough rope and see what they do with it. Anyway, it was strange to see him go the way he did, but I was really impressed with where his character went later on.

Continuing with unpopular opinion time, Rey is still a flat, bland, annoying character for me. I just don’t get the love man, not at all. Every time she was on screen, I felt like precious time was being wasted. I don’t like her, and it sucks that she is one of our new, major protagonists. Oh well. Also, the whole Skywalker legacy is something to wonder about – where are we going from here? I feel that the original characters have been handled a little more poorly than I expected, to be honest.

Ultimately, I still preferred Abrams’s The Force Awakens over this – it looked better, sounded better, and was handled better, though The Last Jedi is by no means a bad movie and does not deserve the hate being flung its way. There is a hell of a lot to like about it – it is fun, it is dark, there are some new concepts being introduced, and has plenty of action. I am seriously looking forward to watching it again sometime and seeing how it holds up. Maybe because I have mad Abrams love and want him to keep going with the story…

Review: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

12

“I did not start this war. I offered you peace. I showed you mercy. But now you’re here. To finish us off… for good.”
– Caesar

SYNOPSIS: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. – via IMDB

Oh yeah! Went to see this the a while ago (my first official trip to the cinema in London) and I had a blast. Actually, I don’t know if that is the right phrasing. Either way, we are going to roll with it. Andy Serkis returns as the most amazing Caesar, and is as honourable as ever. War for the Planet of the Apes really goes for certain themes, and the conflict and strife between the apes and the humans reach a peak.

Woody Harrelson steps in as the truly reprehensible Colonel McCullough . Like I mean really. The man waltzes in and just destroys things all round. Harrelson was good, if underused, which was the same complaint lodged against Oldman in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. There is so much more potential here, but it doesn’t come. Serkis completely owned in his role of Caesar, but I expected no less from him on that front. His portrayal is brilliant, he really has made Caesar his own. Naturally the movie was visually stunning, too, because these movies have all just looked fantastic from the beginning. It definitely has heart and is excellent. I must be honest and say that Dawn is still my favourite.

The plot progression is also good here. It rapidly brings you up to speed with where everything is now in the world, and then it hits the ground running and it does not let up. You feel the fear and the anger here, and I would like to give the movie credit for that. The score also works hand in hand with the visuals to set the mood and tone for what it to come. I was also super pleased to see Maurice, Luca, and Rocket all together here, and I also found Bad Ape to be an amusing and yet sad (his backstory and the lasting implications on his psyche) addition to the movie. This movie didn’t really go between the two sides, as we have become accustomed to, giving us the first movie that is more about the apes than anything.

I feel this movie was totally worth the excitement I had stashed away for it. It totally had that Logan vibe going for it, like this was the last stretch, and it was most certainly serious. It was grim and heavy and it was not out of place. These movies started at a lighter area and have progressed through a whole array of emotions and settings, and have not once stumbled. These movies are a great example of how a film franchise, and especially a reboot franchise, should be handled. War for the Planet of the Apes is definitely worth watching!

Rapid Review: The Cottage (2008)

24

the cottage 2008 poster

“That’s chlorophyll for you.” 
– David

SYNOPSIS: In a remote part of the countryside, a bungled kidnapping turns into a living nightmare for four central characters when they cross paths with a psychopathic farmer and all hell breaks loose. – via IMDB

the cottage 2008 david and andrew

GRADE 7So, Eric highly recommended this for me, and who was I to argue? I am a big fan of Andy Serkis and would probably watch him in anything. Anyway, when Eric told me to check out this horror comedy of Serkis, naturally I was all over it. Popping it in, relaxing, I was ready. I had a few laughs thrown through it, and I think this would appeal to viewers who have a slightly darker or more morbid sense of humour than your casual moviegoer. Serkis does a wonderful job portraying David, who is mean, angry, smarter than his brother or silly partner, but who definitely is in a bad place because his partners-in-crime are not criminals. They just suck. Reece Shearsmith was very entertaining as David’s whiny and useless lump of a brother, who really is one of the biggest reasons that things start to go wrong. His mottephobia really had me going, especially with the exchanges between him and David. Steven O’Donnell was perfectly cast as the guileless Andrew, who seems to care for his sister in a bizarre way, but was prepared to get involved with the plan to have her “kidnapped” and ransomed. Jennifer Ellison amused and irritated me in equal measure. For one, I liked that Tracey took no crap whatsoever, and had a mouth like a sailor, but sometimes instead of coming across as strong and a bit bitchy but self-assured, she just annoyed me, carrying on too much and performing and what not. Ellison is not a particularly grand actress, which I think counted against the flick here. I cannot explain it adequately. The changing relationship between David and Peter was also worth watching. One must note, however, that this movie is not without flaws. Sometimes there is too much lull, sometimes some dialogue gets iffy, Ellison’s character can work on your nerves and the flow was sometimes interrupted by silly things that didn’t gel properly. The first half of the movie and the second half are almost two totally different stories, though they are pulled together eventually (albeit weakly if you really want to nitpick). At any rate, the score accompanies the film well, the laughs are dark but entertaining, it was shot well, and sticks to its genre and what it is working with, making it a pretty strong B-movie with a trippy third act.

Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

34

Dawn-of-the-Planet-of-the-Apes-Caesar-poster

“If we go to war, we could lose all we’ve built.”
– Caesar

SYNOPSIS: A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. – via IMDB

GRADE 8.5finally got to see this movie, and I have been excited about it for the longest time. Ironically, I know, I was über sceptical about its predecessor, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but after seeing it I was transformed into a fan, no to ways about it. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen since Caesar led the apes away from imprisonment, into freedom. I wanted to know what would happen after that ALZ-113 spread, that virus that makes the apes exceptionally smart but kills off the people. Let me tell you, the watch was well worth the wait.

The effects were simply amazing for this film, the CGI was something else. It was just gorgeous. The portrayals, too, were phenomenal, and Andy Serkis again simply owned the show in his role of Caesar. Again, the friendship between him and Maurice is so cool, they are such great friends. Caesar and the apes truly did build their little piece of happiness, their own home, settling into regular roles, very humanlike. Koba was a brilliant character, and his hatred and motivations are completely understandable, even though they are totally opposite from Caesar, whom we can also understand on the other end. It shows that each and every experience is subjective. Jason Clarke was great as Malcolm, though I must admit I was disappointed by how small a role Gary Oldman actually helmed at the end of the day.

The movie also managed to balance some complex and dramatic material, but also had a few things to smile at and laugh about throughout the film, which lightened it from time to time. The relationships and how they change between the humans and one another, the apes and one another, and then both groups towards each other is quite something. I feel that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes gave a good look at both the humans and the apes, and both their sides and their feelings. They each had nice characters, and both had nasty characters, so no party was purely innocent or completely wrong, and it is bad to see what some people will do with some power.

The emotions that were put forth were complex, delving into many different aspects, from the humans side as well as the apes, and you can identify with both sides, though there is no doubt that the perception is almost skewed more in favour of the apes. Koba’s character was extensively used, and properly so. The movie was shot well and beautiful to look at. The scenes were the apes go to war, ultimately, captured the essence of confusion and fear perfectly. This movie was excellent, and well worth the praise it receives, it came together wonderfully.

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

41

rise of the planet of the apes theatrical movie poster

“Caesar shows cognitive skills that far exceed that of a human counterpart. The drug in his system has radically boosted healthy brain functions.”
– Will Rodman

SYNOPSIS: A substance designed to help the brain repair itself gives rise to a super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads an ape uprising. – via IMDB

GRADE 8This was something I was dead set against watching. Hell, my other half damn near strapped me to the couch to force me to watch it, and my entire opinion of the Planet of the Apes franchise was changed… well, not the franchise maybe, but certainly the new direction and reboot. I regret not seeing it in cinema because this is something worth seeing on the big screen, and the years have passed with me getting progressively more excited for the sequel.

I enjoyed the cast, the concept, the CGI, Caesar (that goes without say), and the story. It was well paced, never leaving you confused or wondering what the hell had happened. Seeing how Caesar came to live with Will was great, he was adorable, and it was amazing how much he helped Charles become more stable. The psychology behind Caesar’s intelligence and desire to make new connections and all was also completely believable and understandable. The ties between Will, Charles and Caesar is very sweet, they bond together in the closest for of family.

Andy Serkis delivered another grand performance for his motion capture repertoire, and truly dominates in this role. Tom Felton seems destined to play the jackass forever more since his stint as Draco Malfoy, and he was really so reprehensible in here. Ugh. Brian Cox returns once again as a villainous character, also very unlikable. It was terribly sad, getting the testing portrayal from the chimpanzee’s side, and was well crafted.

The score worked wonders, too. Caesar being separated from caring family and thrown to the wolves, so to speak, it difficult, but it is fantastic to see the ape grow, to create ties with his own kind, to see his similarities with them as well as where they differ. I really liked the friendship he and Maurice had with one another, it was sweet. This is one of those films that really needs to be seen, it is exceptionally well done, and will draw in just about any viewer.