Category Archives: Movies

Ape’s War

War for the Planet of the Apes is a 2017 American science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback and Reeves. A sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), it is the third installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot series. The film stars Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer and Terry Notary, and follows the confrontation between the apes, led by Caesar, and the humans for control of Earth.


Firstly, this isn’t a “war” movie. Instead it concentrates on Ceasar and his journey. Visual effects are top notch and the action scenes (when they finally turn up) are good. But it is  2:20 hours and at times it feels just too slow. It could have been edited to 2 hours.

We know where the movie must end at the 1968 original movie. And it does provide some interesting unexpected turns. Unfortunately it just isn’t as good as the previous movies.

Ape’s Dawn

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a 2014 American science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell and Kodi Smit-McPhee. It is the sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which began 20th Century Fox’s reboot of the original Planet of the Apes series. Dawn is set ten years after the events of Rise, and follows a group of people in San Francisco who struggle to stay alive in the aftermath of a plague that is wiping out humanity, while Caesar tries to maintain dominance over his community of intelligent apes.


It’s not surprising this movie got great reviews. It depicts two sides of a conflict where neither side is shown as good or evil. These exist on both sides and the way in which the narrative draws out the story is Shakespearean in it’s grandeur.

 

Tomorrowland

 

 

Tomorrowland (subtitled A World Beyond in some regions) is a 2015 American science-fiction mystery adventure film .

The film stars George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, Britt Robertson, Raffey Cassidy, Tim McGraw, Kathryn Hahn and Keegan-Michael Key.

In the film, a disillusioned genius inventor and a teenage science enthusiast embark to an ambiguous alternate dimension known as “Tomorrowland” where their actions directly affect the world and themselves.


This $190 million dollar budget film made a box office of $209 million. But not enough to recoup it’s total  costs of $330, suggesting $140 was spent on marketing.

It deserves better. The film was written and directed by Brad Bird, responsible for ‘The Iron Giant”, Incredibles, Ratatouille and the upcoming Incredibles 2.

The visual effects are spectacular, great action scenes and George Clooney playing a grumpy old man. And it’s a REAL science fiction story, with proper Sci-Fi themes and ideas.

The only real problem is Hugh Laurie’s character, is he a villain, leader, architect ? It’s not until the end that his real motives are revealed.

Spy

Spy is a 2015 American action comedy spy film written and directed by Paul Feig. Starring Melissa McCarthy, Jason Statham, Rose Byrne, Miranda Hart, Bobby Cannavale, Allison Janney, and Jude Law, the film follows the transformation of desk-bound CIA analyst Susan Cooper (McCarthy) into a field agent who attempts to foil the black market sale of a suitcase nuke.

Produced by Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping, Feig and Jessie Henderson, the film was theatrically released on June 5, 2015. It received praise from critics and was a box office success. It was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards: Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for McCarthy.


This is a comedy movie that doesn’t resort to toilet humour for laughs. It’s got a good script and action pieces, including a few surprisingly good fights featuring McCarthy. Miranda Hart is good, playing herself (as seen on her TV series). Allison Janney also does a great job in a more dramatic role (I have only seen her on the comedy Mom). Jude Law is suitably smarmy as the top CIA agent. But it’s Jason Statham that almost steals the show with his foul-mouth, hard as nuts agent. He really knows how comedy works.

So overall a rare thing… a good comedy.

 

Dis Me 3

Despicable Me 3 is a 2017 American 3D computer-animated comedy film produced by Illumination Entertainment and released by Universal Pictures. It is the third installment in the Despicable Me film series, and the sequel to Despicable Me 2 (2013). Directed by Pierre Coffin and Kyle Balda, and co-directed by Eric Guillon, the film is written by Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio and stars the voices of Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig and Trey Parker.


The third in the series shows more character development (and characters) than the first two. It also has multiple plot threads. It’s all woven together  in a tight and professional manner, but somehow it just doesn’t have the zing and pacing of the previous two shows, and there are not enough minions.

In fact, Trey Parker as the villain almost steels the show.

 

Wonder Woman

 

Wonder Woman is a 2017 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the fourth installment in the DC Extended Universe.

The film is directed by Patty Jenkins, with a screenplay by Allan Heinberg and a story by Heinberg, Zack Snyder and Jason Fuchs.

Gal Gadot stars with Chris Pine, Robin Wright, Danny Huston, David Thewlis, Connie Nielsen and Elena Anaya in supporting roles. Wonder Woman is the first live action theatrical film starring the character, following her first live action theatrical appearance in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In the film, after American pilot Steve Trevor crashes on the island of Themyscira and tells Diana Prince about World War I, Diana leaves her home to try to stop the war.


This film got a lot of positive reviews. And it is the best superhero movie for a long time.

Motown

Standing in the Shadows of Motown is a 2002 documentary film directed by Paul Justman that recounts the story of The Funk Brothers, the uncredited and largely unheralded studio musicians who were the house band that Berry Gordy hand picked in 1959. They recorded and performed on Motowns’ recordings from 1959 to 1972. The film was inspired by the 1989 book Standing in the Shadows of Motown: The Life and Music of Legendary Bassist James Jamerson, a bass guitar instruction book by Allan Slutsky, which features the bass lines of James Jamerson.


Great music documentary about Motown music. Mainly interviews, interspersed with extracts from a Funk Brothers concert.

Arthur

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is a 2017 British/Australian/American fantasy epic film directed by Guy Ritchie and written by Ritchie, Joby Harold and Lionel Wigram. Loosely based on Arthurian legends, the film stars Charlie Hunnam as the title character, with Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, Djimon Hounsou, Aidan Gillen, Jude Law and Eric Bana in supporting roles.


First, Jude Law is mis-cast in this movie. It’s not that he is a bad actor, he just doesn’t fit the role.

Second, it’s all flash, bang, effects, style over substance and has a very modern tone.

Third, It’s dark. Not in content, but colour. Everything is dialed down to a uniform greyness.

Forth, It lacks any emotional involvement. None of the characters are

Fifth, “who is that’. It has actors I had seen, but couldn’t place.
Djimon Hounsou was in Guardians of the Galaxy. Aidan Gillen is from Game of Thrones. And the one I did recognize, Neil Maskell who was in the TV SciFi series Humans.

 

Alien Covenant

Alien: Covenant is a 2017 American science-fiction horror film, directed by Ridley Scott and written by John Logan and Dante Harper, with a story by Michael Green and Jack Paglen. A sequel to the 2012 film Prometheus, the film is the second installment in the Alien prequel series and the sixth installment overall in the Alien film series, as well as the third directed by Scott. The film stars Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup, Danny McBride and Demián Bichir, and follows the crew of a ship that lands on an uncharted planet before making a terrifying discovery.


I could tell right from the start which female character would survive right to the end. Parts were filmed in Milford Sound, in the rain. This movie is very wet, and dark. Not horror dark, just coloured darkly.

The premise is that of a colony ship that diverts to an unknown planet (bad idea) where (OH NO) a certain alien life-form got there first. The movie looks great and is suitably scary and intense. Of all the Alien movies this is probably the third best.

 

Denied


Denial is a 2016 British-American historical drama film directed by Mick Jackson and written by David Hare, based on Deborah Lipstadt’s book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. It dramatises the Irving v Penguin Books Ltd case, in which Lipstadt, a Holocaust scholar, was sued by Holocaust denier David Irving for libel. It stars Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson, Timothy Spall, Andrew Scott, Jack Lowden, Caren Pistorius and Alex Jennings.


Despite first name billing, the Rachel Weisz character could have been done by a number of actors her age. The  real stars here are Timothy Spall (as Irving) and Tom Wilkinson as Richard Rampton, her solicitor. It’s mainly a courtroom drama and despite knowing the verdict before seeing the film it was suitably tense and engaging. This is the type of film that gets nominated for awards, getting a BAFTA nomination for best British film. It lost to ‘I, Daniel Blake’ by Ken Loach.