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

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“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!

Review: The Edge of Seventeen (2016)

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“I don’t wanna take up a ton of your time, but I’m gonna kill myself. I just thought an adult should know.”
– Nadine 

SYNOPSIS: High-school life gets even more unbearable for Nadine when her best friend, Krista, starts dating her older brother. – via IMDB

Alright, so I know this rated really highly with people, so I was interested to see how this coming of age film sets itself apart from others in the genre, and there are a few ways, some good, and some bad. It was definitely different in the sense that you don’t actually really like our protagonist, though she does grow as the movie progresses (as to be expected), and ultimately you can see the changes.

Nadine is a more unlikable character than you are used to for this type of movie. Sure, they are supposed to have unlikable aspects, things that change as the movie progresses, but Nadine has virtually no redeeming points, and is selfish on a totally believable teenage level, this is to say that the whole world had to revolve around her. She also encounters situations where being abrasive doesn’t always helps, and other times it did. All that being said, I did like the way the movie did a really good job capturing the insecurities of a teenage girl, as well as the constant stress and complete teenage selfishness.

Even with that being done exceptionally well, I didn’t love this. It isn’t a bad movie, it just didn’t make me feel much of anything. I enjoyed watching Woody Harrelson, because he’s awesome and so was his character, but aside from that? Oh yes, there is Erwin, and I thought he was adorable. Besides them? There were no characters I really enjoyed, or situations, or interactions (except between Nadine and poor Mr Bruner). The movie just came across as really flat and shallow, which is unfortunate. It also wasn’t funny, which at times it felt like it was desperately trying to be. I didn’t find this as deep and poignant as others did. It isn’t a bad watch, it just didn’t do for me what I was hoping it would.

The Edge of Seventeen does a great job of capturing the totally self-centred nature of being a teen, as well as all the awkwardness of it. The movie features sold performances and is shot well, but it doesn’t have the heart or humour it thinks it has.

 

Rapid Review: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part II (2015)

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the hunger games mockingjay part 2

“Our lives were never ours, they belong to Snow and our deaths do too. But if you kill him, Katniss, all those deaths, they mean something.”
– Peeta Mellark

SYNOPSIS: As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7I was excited for this, I really was. I was unhappy with the split of this book into two movies, and it seems that that was justified. I just don’t quite get it… you all know I was not really a fan of Mockingjay Part I. It felt unnecessary, though it was interesting to explore some of the political issues there. Then there is Mockingjay Part II, and it is uneven, and a mess, and somehow manages to feel so rushed. I don’t get it. There are also things that really irritated me. The main two offenders being SPOILERS that Finnick’s death was not done more justice – because it was really just glossed over in the book, and that Prim barely featured, so her death  meant absolutely nothing here. The movie felt cluttered, and it was not nearly as smooth as Catching Fire, which remains the crowning moment for this franchise. I maintain that Jennifer Lawrence succeeded in making Katniss Everdeen far more likable than she ever was in the books (ask anyone – Everdeen is a total pet peeve of mine, ugh, whiny brat). This is not the worst way to end out the franchise, but really less oomph than I was expecting. Visually, of course, the movie was great to look at, but I was extremely disappointed in the pods at the outer edge of the city. Way less bang for my buck than I was expecting. The conclusion is also portrayed in a far more upbeat manner than the book, which is much better for me because the book made me want to throw it out of frustration because Katniss is such a selfish child. The trailer contained all the really good things, unfortunately, so there was spans of filler stuff (for me) while watching this. I feel that the cast again did a fantastic job with their characters, bringing all of them to life, though many characters were glossed over. Sam Claflin is still fantastic as Finnick Odair, Josh Hutcherson is precisely what you would expect Peeta to be, and Liam Hemsworth is a really good Gale, exactly what I pictured him to be (don’t know why he gets so much hate – but then I have only ever seen him in this franchise). That’s just glossing over the main cast, as it really is just too large to talk about them all, but just know that they all worked very well with what they were given. I liked this alright, but I did not love it – it just feels like it never really took off like it was supposed to. It felt unpolished, unfinished, and uneven. That being said, it is still a fun franchise, and I am totally looking forward to a nice box set to add to my collection!

Sporadic Scene: True Detective (Season 1×04) – Who Goes There Tracking Shot

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Wow. This is one of those incredibly well shot and intense scenes. True Detective is, hands down, one of the best shows I have ever seen, and there was just so much going on there that was right and perfect. Anyway, Cohle and Hart eventually go off the books when they decide that Cohle must try and infiltrate a biker gang he was once undercover in, and in exchange for the co-operation of one of the main members, Cohle needs to help with a hairy situation. Eventually Cohle decides that, no matter what the hell is going down, there are some things that he just needs, and decides to take them. What follows is six minutes of pure epic.

If you have a scene that you would like featured, drop me a mail at sporadiczoe@hotmail.com with a picture/gif/video of the scene and an explanation as to why (should you want to include it).

Rapid Review: Now You See Me (2013)

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now you see me poster

“What is magic? Focused deception. But deception meant to entertain.”
– Daniel Atlas

SYNOPSIS: Four magicians each answer a mysterious summons to an obscure address with secrets inside. A year later, they are the Four Horsemen, big time stage illusionists who climax their sold out Las Vegas show with a bank apparently robbed for real. This puts agents Dylan Rhodes of the FBI and Alma Dray of Interpol on the case to find out how they did it. However, this mystery proves difficult to solve even with the insights of the professional illusion exposer, Thaddeus Bradley. What follows is a bizarre investigation where nothing is what it seems with illusions, dark secrets and hidden agendas galore as all involved are reminded of a great truth in this puzzle: the closer you look, the less you see. – via IMDB

now you see me

This is pretty much how the movie went…

GRADE 4You know, reviews for this movie were really mixed. I know my other half asked me a few months ago if we had this to watch, and I put on The Prestige instead, because he had never seen it and I personally feel it’s the best movie of the sort. Naturally, he was head over heels for it. So then recently we decided to finally get to this, which came in highly recommended from people around us. I was pretty neutral on seeing it. Let me tell you, that changed soon enough after starting it. What the hell?! I cannot express to you how disappointed I was. What a ridiculously talented cast, wasted. Completely. I felt that Dave Franco was insanely underused, too, not to mention that Michael Caine was such an important character who suddenly disappeared. You would have thought that Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg coming together again would be a good thing. The holes all over this movie were terrible, it was all just not working for me. The final act is truly what killed this movie for me, in my opinion. The first bit of it is fun, nothing too serious, just alright. Albeit that there is no character development or anything like that and the prerequisite that we don’t ask questions as to how these four magicians suddenly got huge and what they have been doing for the past year. It felt too much like it was trying to be a cross between the Ocean’s movies and something from The Prestige. I love all those movies, I just didn’t like the implementation here too much. I don’t know, there was just too much wrong with this movie for me to like it a lot. I don’t hate it, the first bit was fun, the debunking of the magic, watching the tricks, all that. I liked that aspect of it, because who doesn’t love to wonder a little when all magic is said and done? But then later it just dives. There’s this plot twist that just feels clunky and silly, and illusion gives way to real magic at the end (I don’t know – the cards????). The conclusion of the movie was absolutely freaking ridiculous for me, too. In what world is that how this was going to play out?! Also, something I had a major issue with is the sudden and abrupt cuts between scenes at the best of time, leaving you feeling flustered and confused. I know that my write up is a bit harsher than the score would reflect, but I cannot say that this was good, I cannot say that this was bad. I suppose halfway is about the right place to place this.  Meh, this had the potential to be so much more, but it just fell flat.

Review: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part I (2014)

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the hunger games mockingjay part 1 poster

“I never wanted any of this, I never wanted to be in the Games, I just wanted to save my sister and keep Peeta alive.”
– Katniss Everdeen

SYNOPSIS: With the Games now destroyed and in pieces, Katniss Everdeen, along with Gale, Finnick and Beetee, now end up in the so thought “destroyed” District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her friends, Katniss becomes the “Mockingjay” and the symbol of rebellion for the people. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5So we all know that the entire world has been waiting for this with bated breath and immense amounts of participation. The reviews came back, mixed. Very. Irrespective of, I had to go see this. Now that I am free of my exams, I could do this without stress and worrying about anything. Yay. Now, there are a lot of things this movie did right, and there were a lot of things that I was not fond of. There was a lot that they stuck to in the books, and other things that they certainly could have developed more that they just didn’t (big eyes here at the Gale and Finnick sections). I mean, Gale ended up looking like a jackass at a stage when he freaked about Peeta, simply because there was no proper build up. Haymitch was underused, and the fact that they dropped the Finnick in his underwear scene was criminal. I was not expecting a huge action film going in, knowing how they split the book into two films, I knew that Part I was going to be significantly slower (the first half of the book was, too). What I didn’t expect was it to feel like it was dragging, trying to fill up the runtime at the best of times. Pity, too. I don’t mind a slow burn or a drama or anything, but then those elements have to take over and keep you completely enthralled, which did not really happen here. I was not happy either when Finnick delivered his huge exposé speech either, because they kept punctuating it with the rescue scenes, which would have been fine (I mean I understood what they were going for), but they let those scenes drag on too long without Finnick talking or focused too much on the event punctuating his speech, so when he comes back and he’s saying something, you have forgotten what he has said already, and the OMG bit of all of it is underplayed, and it was an important bit. The performances from the cast were very good all round though. Julianne Moore was great as President Coin, Philip Seymour Hoffman was still a wonderful Plutarch, though I wish there had been more of him, Liam Hemsworth finally gets more screen time (though I still think they needed to do so much more with his character), and Sam Claflin was solid as Finnick as always, though I really wish we had seen more of him (the mistreatment of his character in here was criminal), and Elizabeth Banks was entertaining as always, though she was not really supposed to be such a big part of events. I liked her nonetheless. There were some logic issues that got under my skin (most of it having to do with the hiding in the bunker thing), and the shaky cam stuff annoyed me endlessly, too. I was happy that the reunions were done well (Finnick, Peeta, etc). I was worried they would manage to screw that up, but it worked wonders. Overall this is not a bad flick, it’s just that so much more could have been done.

 

Review: Out of the Furnace (2013)

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out of the furnace poster

“I’ve got a problem with everybody.”
– Harlan DeGroat

Russell Baze (Christian Bale) is a hardworking man. He is a blue-collar worker at the local mill and lucky to have a job seeing as he lives in the economically depressed Rust Belt. His younger brother Rodney Jr (Casey Affleck) is a military man with a gambling problem and in with some criminal types but not necessarily bad people for some money. Going to settle his brother’s debt with John Petty (Willem Dafoe) one night, his whole life is changed. Going home to his girlfriend Lena Warren (Zoë Saldana) he is in an accident that is not even remotely his fault but sentenced to prison. Leaving his younger brother and dying father behind, Russell begins his incarceration.

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“Working for a living? I gave my life for this country and what’s it done for me? Huh? What’s it done for me?” – Rodney Baze Jr

While in prison, his father passes away, and Russell is wracked with even more guilt over his passing and not having been there. Upon his release, Rodney takes Russell to his father’s grave and then to their home. Russell slowly but surely starts sinking back into the old ways of his sad life, though he is upset that Lena has moved on and is now seeing police offices Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker). Rodney is not working and is finished serving his country, fighting for Petty to settle his debt. Russell discovers this one day and confronts his brother, again offering that Rodney come work at the mills and that he should not be too proud to work for a living. In a rage, Rodney goes to Petty, forcing his hand to set up a fight for him with Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a disgraceful redneck with a drug and anger problem. Petty is not keen on the idea, but Rodney’s vehemence eventually gets the upper hand and he arranges.

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“Now, will you calm down. I’ll get you the money, Harlan. I’m fixin’ for a fight this week.” – John Petty

Rodney is told to throw the fight, but has a tendency to forget that policy in the heat of the moment. Petty continually warns Rodney that DeGroat is not worth screwing over, and in the ring it looks as though Rodney is set to win, and Petty has to make sure that Rodney loses, which he progresses to do. However, on the way home from the fight, DeGroat catches up to them and kills them both. Russell is informed by Barnes of the transgression, though he says Rodney may still be out there and that Russell should leave it to the police to work out. Russell and his uncle Gerald “Red” Baze (Sam Shepard) set out together with a plan – justice will be exacted for Rodney. Either they will find Rodney in DeGroat’s county, or they will make him pay for what he has done.

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When your future relies on the decision you are faced with

Russell must make a decision about avenging his brother and throwing away his freedom and average, hardworking life, or he must let the police sort it out, though they have made it clear that they don’t really want to get involved with DeGroat. Will Russell be able to let DeGroat get away with the murder of his baby brother? Will Russell ever be able to live a normal life and stop suffering unreasonable hardships all the time?

A 7.5/10 for Out of the Furnace. I was hooked from the get-go. The film boasts a pretty solid cast and they all bring brilliant performances to the table and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love Woody Harrelson but wow he was so reprehensible in this one. Christian Bale delivered a great performance of the hardworking and very caring brother. It was great to see Casey Affleck again, and he played the little military man gone wrong very well. I was not particularly sold on Forest Whitaker in here, either his skills or his character, it just didn’t work completely. I enjoyed the plot of this film as well as the progression. I loved the camera work and effects; it looked so great, like washed out. The soundtrack worked perfectly, and the pace was so good for what it was. The conclusion of the film had me at the edge of my seat, not because it was unexpected, but because it was pretty moving. The film’s pace is slow and deliberate and worked perfectly for this film. This is a film not everyone, definitely nothing new or revolutionary and goodness knows it has its flaws, but I enjoyed it and would recommend it, if not for the performances alone.

Review: Seven Psychopaths (2012)

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Seven Psychopaths Poster

“You didn’t think I was what? Serious? You think I’m not serious just because I carry a rabbit?”
– Zachariah

Marty Faranan (Colin Farrell) is a struggling screenwriter that has been trying to write a movie for ages titled Seven Psychopaths. He is having no luck, and his best friend Billy Bickle (Sam Rockwell) decides to step in and take the reigns, and starts off by feeding Marty some stories about some crazy people. What Marty doesn’t know is that Billy is so intent on helping him write the screenplay that he has gone far enough as to place a classified ad in the paper calling for all psychopaths to contact him and share their stories so that Marty may find that bout of inspiration that he is so desperate for. This way there will be a real inside look, an undeniable link to something that Marty cannot wholly understand or identify with without an inside scoop.

Seven Psychopaths Christopher Walken

Have a beer. Relax. It is only a crazy gangster’s Shih Tzu!

His first visit is from Zachariah (Tom Waits) who tells him that they were serial killers that hunter serial killers, but that his wife Maggie (Amanda Warren) had left him years ago when he could not assist her in murdering some hippy perceived to be the Zodiac killer. Meanwhile, Billy’s associate in crime Hans Kieslowski (Christopher Walken) is running their business of kidnapping and returning dogs to their owners for hefty rewards. Hans has kidnapped a Shih Tzu named Bonny from her overprotective and psychotic owner Charlie Castello (Woody Harrelson). This helps them nothing when they realize Castello is not looking to give a reward to whomever may return his dog, he is out for blood, and wants to murder the perpetrators.

Marty is rapidly pulled into the Los Angeles underworld due to his friends and their retarded decisions, and his drinking ultimately leads his girlfriend, Kaya (Abbie Cornish), kicking him out. Out of a place to live, and his movie not coming along as famously as he had hoped, the psychopaths start coming to him with their stories, and soon he has enough to fill the book with. He finds out that the stories that Billy has been feeding him are not about fictitious people, but real bona fide people in the world, which unnerves Marty just a bit.

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Such a handsome cravat of a time long past

Hans’s wife, Myra (Linda Bright Clay), is fighting cancer in the hospital, but is murdered by Castello when he makes the connection between Hans and his missing pet, Bonny. Hans no longer has anything to lose, and soon he, Billy and Marty flee to the desert, and the two become very involved with helping him to write his screenplay, and make it a success. Naturally, they grow closer, and though Marty cannot believe that he was sucked into all of it, he is still enjoying the thrill in one of those worrywart manners.

Seven Psychopaths desert

The normal and the psychos

Stuck out in the desert with a stolen pet, are they able to avoid Castello and return the Shih Tzu and get away with it, or are they going to go down in an emotional shootout like Billy wants them to? Will Marty ever finish his screenplay and have it become a crazy big movie, all the while kicking his alcohol habit?

Seven Psychopaths earns a 7/10. I enjoyed sections of the movies, while at times I sat there, mouth agape. It is sharp and smart and most definitely weird, and Christopher Walken delivers another solidly amusing character. You can actually have a look at a “psychopath” in this film, and while it leaves you feeling a little strange at times, at others it is simply hilarious how it all goes down. Woody Harrelson just cracks me up, and the logic of these people in this movie was absolutely absurd, no matter how you look at it. The film jumps between the story as it is happening, the psychopaths and their antics, as well as the screenplay that everyone is assisting Marty with. It was a very good watch, and it was a load of fun, though I don’t feel it deserved to be hyped up as much as it was.