Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Dawn-of-the-Planet-of-the-Apes-WallpaperRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

A decade after the fight of San Francisco, Ceasar and his following of intelligent apes have adapted to life in the Redwoods. Suffering the consequences of developing the drug which created these apes are the humans who have spent the last 10 years surviving a Simian Flu epidemic.The apes are convinced that the humans have lost their battle against the disease, until a member of Malcolm’s (Jason Clarke) group runs into two apes and shoots one in excitement. Ceasar still faithful to his no killing rule lets the humans escape, unaware that they are searching for a power source to get San Francisco running again.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes joins the ranks of great sci-fi blockbusters this year among the likes of X-Men: Days of Future Past, Edge of Tomorrow and Godzilla. Films which could really prompt the rise of genuinely good sci-fi films. For a sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes completely trumps its predecessor in all departments. Keeping Ceasar central to the story was a masterful decision and because of it we get a far more compelling story than that of the humans. We’re ultimately trying to get our way to the climax which is the planet of the apes, and it wouldn’t have felt right if Franco was still there fighting for screen time. Of course he is a massive part of Ceasar’s origin story which is where Ceasar’s compassion and empathy for the humans comes from, also a reason why Rise of the Planet of the Apes works so well, but telling the majority of the story from Ceasar’s perspective was definitely the right way to go. This way we have a protagonist who is unbiased and has an impartial view towards the world, a character we know we can trust in a broken society.

During Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we see Ceasar grow up among humans, absent to life with his own kind outdoors where he belongs. He doesn’t know what humans are capable of or where he came from, but asking the questions gives him answers he finds hard to swallow. Ten years on he and his family of intelligent apes have formed a sophisticated society living as one. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is great in so many ways, it could have easily turned into a cheap action crapfest but instead it’s an intelligent film not short of the human element. I think I join a large group of people who were attracted to this film purely because of apes with guns on horses, I mean I’ve never heard of anything as awesome as that. Anyone expecting 2 hours of apes with guns may be disappointed but I’d like to think that they’d be pleasantly surprised at the same time. We spend most of the film with Ceasar amongst his family contemplating how to deal with the humans. We learn their way of life and how they all live as one and care for each other, living without the modern necessities that we live with nowadays such as electricity and internet. It makes us question how we are as a modern society, everything that is wrong with it and everything right with it. Ceasar genuinely believes that Apes are better, but as the film unfolds he learns that ignorance and indifference is something you can’t prevent and maybe conflict is all but inevitable within nature.

This film not only shows us the potential of sci-fi but also how far performance capture has come. Andy Serkis has revolutionized the film making tool and proves that it shouldn’t be ruled out as a legitimate method of performance. A lot of buzz has gone around saying that Serkis deserves an Oscar nod after this performance, and I’ll have to agree. It’s amazing to even think that a man is literally playing Ceasar, all of his facial expressions, his movements, all these details which bring the character to life. Serkis expresses so many emotions just from these delicate details which is pretty amazing since Ceasar’s dialogue is quite limited. I’ve never felt such a strong connection with a non-human protagonist. That being said, Serkis is only one of many who use performance capture to play the ape characters. The likes of Toby Kebbell and Judy Greer prove that Serkis is not the only actor who can master performance capture. Kebbell especially puts in an absolutely terrifying performance as Koba, an ape who can’t forgive the years of torture ensued by the humans.

The only negative about the film would probably be the human characters, the only character which stands out is Malcolm (Jason Clarke), one of the few humans who see the apes in a much brighter light. He is to an extent quite an important character as he reminds Ceasar that not all humans are corrupt. Characters like Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) and Carver (Kirk Acevedo) represent how we find it hard to blame ourselves for the downfall of humans, even when the facts are right in our face. To an extent they mirror Koba’s same feeling of indifference.

As for the aesthetics, the CGI is a lot better than its predecessor by a large margin. The apes actually look real this time around, improving from the choppy CGI we had in the first film. The set design is incredible creating a post apocalyptic forest look to both San Francisco and the Redwoods, which sets up some incredible shots throughout the film. It’s just an overall great looking film. Also props to the sound mixing crew who created a genuine ape society atmosphere, sitting in the cinema and being able to hear apes surrounding you was not only awesome but put in perspective how many of them there were.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is definitely one of the best films of the year so far, not for its spectacle but more for its storytelling and direction. We’re being given an intelligent story about war and human nature, a film which makes us think rather than fry our brains, and for anyone who wants their brains fried, well apes on horses with guns!

Advertisements

The Spectacular Now (2013)

82be1a35bdd197cdb228bea4120f7e72Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

Every year I watch a shiz load of films, ranging from the brilliant to the utterly terrible, but there will always be that odd film that some how finds its way to me and strikes the sweetest G-Chord within my heart. The Spectacular Now is that film for me of 2013.

Ever since The Descendants I knew I was an instant fan of Shailene Woodley and had been waiting to see her follow up film for quite a while. And what a film. Just as The Descendants was, this film is down to earth and totally real. Miles Teller plays Sutter Keeley, a kid on the brink of adulthood. We meet him as he struggles to begin his college application, unsure of how to put his life into words. He seems like he has his sh*t together as we indulge in his large personality and his way of words, but once we’re exposed to his constant alcoholism we know something is up. What makes this such a relatable film is Sutter’s predicament. He’s lived in the now for all his life and has struggled to do anything productive with it. He may have heaps of fun but during a time of his life where a future plan matters he becomes stuck. His girlfriend dumps him for the pure reason that he has no ambition. Then Shailene Woodley’s character Aimee Finecky comes along and gives him a bit of a pick me up. Aimee is the complete opposite of Sutter, she’s down the chain on the social ladder and has dreams of finally leaving for college although stunted by her mother. Sutter befriends her in the hope of helping her out.

There’s films out there which make you wanna cry because devastating stuff happens in them with that sole outcome in mind, but then there are some films which make you wanna cry because you connect so much with the characters and the films themes that they are more tears of inspiration than sympathy. I wont lie, by the end of the film I felt quite emotional. It was odd because I’ve never felt so emotional for such a character triumph. Something so simple yet profound. I’m at a similar time in life as this Sutter kid which is why it probably felt so relatable, and because of that I may have left the film slightly a better person.

What I like about this story is that there’s no defining character that helps grow Sutter. From watching past coming of age films there’s usually a father figure or someone that can be looked up to who knocks some inspiration into our lost soul, but in this film, it took getting to his lowest point to finally grow. Sure there were characters along the way which were important but at the end of the day if you can come to terms with your problems then you can look for a solution. That’s what makes the final scene so good, it’s ambiguous but does it really matter? (You’ll see)

The cinematography is earthy capturing the human element of young love and uncertainty pleasantly. Along with the score which slowly develops from upbeat to endearing to melancholy.

As for performances, Miles Teller has the potential to be the next Vince Vaugn of sorts with his natural ability to bring charisma to a character. Saw him for the first time in Footloose then 21 & Over this year. He has no problem with running his mouth rampant and when put in the right film, it comes out positively. Hopefully he sticks to movies such as this and doesn’t over do this type of character as some actors do. Shailene Woodley co-stars and offers another great performance. Really looking forward to her new franchise film next year, Divergent, I don’t care if it seems like a Hunger Games copy, I’m sure she will bring something to the films.

What really makes these performances stand out though is the chemistry between Woodley and Teller. The last time I saw legitimate awkwardness and realism brought to teen love was last years Amazing Spider-Man, maybe I need to watch more films if that’s the case. But everything about their interaction is something I’ve been through, and for that reason it felt so real.

The Spectacular Now is a coming of age tale that starts off upbeat then hits you with emotional substance. It’s engaging and totally relatable with great leads and raw chemistry. One of my favourites of 2013.

The Story of Luke (2013)

The Story of Luke - Movie Stills 22Roze-Rating: 4 / 5

We’re first introduced to Luke attending the funeral of his grandmother, and immediately we can tell that she was his main caretaker and most likely one of the only people that truly cared about him. We soon find out that he suffers from autism which is what prompts the main themes of the film. What I liked about this movie is that it could have easily been sympathetic and depressing but instead it takes a character we should all feel sorry for and surrounds him with opportunity, dreams and jokes. It’s down to earth and offers thought out laughs rather than cheap ones.  It’s a surprisingly upbeat film with a lot of moments to laugh about making this one of the better comedies of this year.

With the abuse Luke gets from his family during the films opening I was expecting something that would be hard to watch, but it helped the film in a way as we see his family warm up to him as soon as he moves in with them, because well, family is family. It ends up being an overall charming and sweet film with a coming of age essence.

The film isn’t special in terms of cinematography or performances, where it triumphs is its script.  It’s a shame as that bit extra in making this film look a little prettier and thorough with its performances could have made this a lot more engaging. Lou Taylor Pucci plays Luke, he gives him an odd voice that gradually grows on you but his social anxiety is captured perfectly. The better of the performances comes from seasoned actor Seth Green, also one to grow on you. Really wished he’d come back to make more movies again instead of spending his time doing cringy sitcoms (Dads). As for other performances, they were average, characters we have seen before.

Coming of age films seem to be gaining in popularity nowadays. I think they are hard to get completely wrong unless you have a director that doesn’t know what the film is going to be. It seems like having a troubled character facing defining moments in their life in order to change positively really gets to people as they can easily be very relatable. It’s not a bad thing because I love these type of films but it would be a shame for the genre to start getting over crowded just like this film hasn’t gained any recognition. It will probably be one of those films that gets out over time.

Prisoners (2013)

maxresdefault (1)Roze-Rating: 4 / 5

Prisoners is a suspenseful thriller that plays off the tragedy of two families and the dedication of one detective. The film follows two main protagonists, Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman during their antagonizing search for two missing girls. They both offer compelling performances giving us a raw insight on how the mind works in situations illustrated in this. It’s a film about the lengths we would go to in order to protect our children, how far is too much? and is it really worth it in the end? Jackman portrays a man so consumed by his emotions that he takes matters into his own hands, ultimately committing the same crime he is mourning over. We’re left wondering if his actions are counterproductive as he neglects the very people that are in it with him. Gyllenhaal plays a cop with an 100% record for solving cases. From the go we know that he isn’t committing to a family or a girlfriend as he sits alone in a restaurant making small talk with a waitress. His exaggerated blinks expose his tiredness and accepting a call without hesitation reassures us that he’s a legitimate cop.

I can’t say I enjoyed this film as much as I wanted to. I found myself trying to connect with the characters and relate to their emotions a bit too hard. This could be down to not having kids myself but that being said I’ve definitely felt similar emotions having lost my little sister for a split second, not pleasant (bad brother). We’re introduced to the (going to be) lost children during the opening act and a lot of emphasis went to them allowing us to get to know them and ultimately tap into their parents emotions once they are missing. It’s executed perfectly as the suspense is heightened emphasizing their parents increasing fear. The following scenes are emotional as we see these two families searching for their children. Unfortunately for me what follows disconnected me from the film slightly. It starts to focus on Jackman’s character and his gradual surrendering to his dark emotions . His story is compelling but I felt we needed more insight to the other characters within the two families in order to get a well rounded sense of the family’s well being. Eventually I kind of forgot about them.

I would say this is more of a crime drama than anything else and that’s what I liked about it the most. The search is realistic, we never really know what’s happened til the end and the suspense is masterful. In terms of characters I resonated more with Gyllenhaal’s character more than any one else, I think you rarely see a film where you feel like your in the detectives shoes and this film explores that really well.. When his character is faced with the parents you feel for both of them since you can understand the frustration that’s expressed by the parents but you also sympathize for the detective for having to deal with aggression coming from the very people your busting your ass to help. I’ve not really seen that in cop films very much.

What really makes this film are the performances. Without the high caliber performances we wouldn’t be getting these raw emotion on screen pushing our emotional buttons. Hugh Jackman gets so intense I was just waiting for those wolverine claws to spring out. I mean this guy can be scary when he wants to. Jake Gyllenhaal is a total badass, from his no nonsense demeanor to his slick haircut. Little details like his hard blinking make his character real, great performance. A performance that may get overlooked is Paul Dano’s interpretation of a troubled kid slated as the main suspect for the kidnappings. I mean I’ve never felt sorry for a person that frustrates me and creeps me out at the same time. There’s a hint of innocence in that performance that I don’t think many people could do.

Prisoners may get frustratingly slow at times but it makes up for it with it’s gloomy tone and still camera work. The suspense will get your heart racing and the performances will engage you. Even though it may be a bit too long, it’s still worth a watch as one of the better dramas of 2013.

Prince Avalanche (2013)

paul_rudd_emile_hirsch_road_workers_prince_avalancheRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Prince Avalanche is about two guys painting lines on a country side highway just after it had been hit by a massive fire. Alvin (Paul Rudd) decides to work away from his girlfriend in order to somewhat reinvent himself and find a bit of joy in his life, tagging along is Lance (Emile Hirsch) his girlfriend’s brother. In this offbeat comedy we meet the pair as they begin their relationship and over time we see them form an unusual friendship but not without your odd feuds.

There’s no explanation about how the fire happened or how it affected the people in the area, it’s more about the growth of these two guys and their newly formed bond. They’re both at different points in their life. Alvin is well into his adulthood and is looking to cement a pure commitment with his girlfriend but moving away from her may suggest some form of unhappiness back at home. While Lance is more concerned about getting his “little man squeezed” than any serious life commitment. But I guess what they both have in common is that they long for more and haven’t really reached their optimum happiness in life. Alvin seems to be relishing life outdoors and his alone time, getting opportunities to explore what he loves and pure silence. There’s a scene where he visits a burnt down house and acts out a scenario as if he was back home with his girlfriend and you feel there was a lot of neglect there. He may have felt more alone at home than being out in the countryside by himself. Lance feels the opposite as he starts feeling lonely, missing the hectic life of Garland (funnily a small village), only thing on his mind is sex. What’s funny is that his train of thought is relatable to any man, he makes an emotional speech about not getting any and it’s probably one of the funniest things I’ve seen in film this year.

This is definitely one of my favourite films of the year, it has everything I like, weirdly lovable characters, offbeat humour, coming of age essence, brilliantly filmed settings and a great score. It may not appeal to mainstream audiences but if given the chance, the characters and tone of the film may just win a few viewers over. I like how on the surface it seems like such a simple film but dig deeper and it’s actually quite a charming story about growth and coming to terms with what happiness really is between two characters and their odd friendship dynamics. The final act probably holds one of my favourite scenes this year, filled with catharsis using booze and great music, simple yet freeing.

Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch both step outside their comfort zones playing characters we rarely see them cast as. Rudd takes on a more serious character while Hirsch is the funny one. Definitely solid performances. Lance Le Gualt, the truck driver also puts in quite a charismatic performance. The film only has four characters and from the start we are told that four people lost their lives in the fires that hit the countryside. So are they ghost’s? one of them definitely is, but I guess we can interpret it in any way we feel right.

Hopefully this film doesn’t go unnoticed, it won’t win any major awards but it deserves some form of recognition, starting with views. I’m not familiar with David Gordan Green’s earlier work except his mainstream comedies but if these are the type of films he produces, I’ll definitely be giving his films a look.

Mud (2013)

Mud-Movie-2013-Matthew-McConaughey-Roze-Rating: 5 / 5

Two boy’s, Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (Jacob Lofland), venture to an Island in the Mississippi where they find a boat stuck in a tree. Excited by the prospect of finding something they can have for themselves, they soon realize that a man has been living in it. His name is Mud (Matthew McConaughey), he recruits the boys to gather food and complete tasks for him as he reveals his predicament. Ellis sympathizes with him and soon enough a strong bond is created.

The film revolves around the theme of love as we see Ellis try to understand it in both harsh and warm ways. Mud has been in love with Juniper (Reese Witherspoon) since childhood but he doesn’t see that love being shared back, yet he continues to pursue her. Similar to Eliss’s mother towards his father but that love has deteriorated over time. This make’s Eliss’s father cynical towards women and their affection, telling Ellis “you can’t trust women, they’ll never love you back”, Ellis fail’s to believe him as he continues to help Mud, mislead to think that Juniper’s love is shared back. From this point we know that Ellis is a strong believer in love, he is 14, on his way to adulthood but naive towards the heartache love can cause. His heart is strong which is why he is not afraid of helping people.

This film exposes love in many shapes and sizes. We have Neckbone and his uncle who takes care of him like a father, you may not get a large glimpse of it but they share unconditional love. The head of the crime family attempting to avenge the murder of his son, they go about expressing their love differently, and in the end we wonder if it was all worth it. Mud is a coming of age film about love and letting go, accepting what won’t work and getting back up and trying again just as Neckbone’s uncle says “if you get your heart broke, don’t walk around with a shit look on your face, get back in there and get your tip wet”. In terms of coming of age films this is the most unique one I’ve seen as it explores its themes using an uncommon plot. The narrative is compelling which makes us root for the characters and feel strong emotions for them even if they aren’t all good guys.

What I liked about it is that it’s not melodramatic or sappy, it doesn’t try its hardest to make us bawl our eyes out, it tell’s the story as honestly as possible with great performances and southern settings. We truly care for the characters and I think that’s what makes this film so masterful, we can relate and genuinely connect with the story. This is totally down to precision writing and execution on screen, of course it couldn’t have been achieved without the actors.

Matthew McConaughey has once again come up with a great performance. He’s reviving his career like a total boss, coming out with consecutive wins of films. He proves this with his raw grit and ability to dig deep to play these roles making his way to being one of the best actors today. In the process he’s getting rid of his hot bod reputation even if we do see him with his shirt off. Young stars Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland also kill it with their performances and should be looking at big futures as we get a great sense of their friendship on screen.

Mud is a respectable addition to the list of great coming of age films and hopefully will get some recognition during award season. A must watch for 2013.

The Truth About Emanuel (2013)

emmanuel-truth-about-fishes02Roze-Rating: 4 / 5

Moving in across the street is single mother Linda (Jessica Biel) possessing a striking resemblance to Emanuel’s (Kaya Scodelario) dead mother. Emanuel blames herself for her mothers death at childbirth, she feels she has nothing to offer in this world. Uncharacteristically offering to babysit for her new neighbor opens up a relationship she has longed for ever since she was born. An obsession evolves as she can relate to her neighbors pain even if she lives a lie.

The Truth About Emanuel is a beautifully constructed film exploring human relationships in such a down to earth way. We are introduced to a 17 year old girl, Emanuel, claiming to have murdered her mother. She mentions this during an opening monologue where she later explains is from childbirth. She is guilt-ridden, convinced that she was never meant to belong in this world. Her obscured views on life and reality makes her cynical about her future and to an extent people. An important quote from Emanuel is when she claims “reality is overrated”, her feelings concerning her place in the world makes her absent of ambition, she lives in her own distorted reality. I find her character extremely real as teenagers at some point will feel lost, unsure of what lies ahead and where their choices will take them. Emanuel may be damaged but she has the personality of the average teen. She’s intelligent and extremely witty as we see her countlessly crack smart ass responses to people, she has an identity but no coherent outlet to express herself with.

Ultimately for a good thirty minutes of the film we are exposed to an Emanuel that is on the edge, she feels no one understands her and no one will. I like how the film progresses through her daily routine a number of times, driving home how little she allows herself to live at her age. The film really starts going when Linda moves in with her baby daughter across the street, Emanuel instantly feels a connection with her as we later realize she looks very similar to her mother. A relationship soon develops and we come to learn that there is more to that connection than we thought, it’s chilling but Emanuel’s understanding of Linda’s pain is compelling.

Performances from Kaya Scodelario and Jessica Biel were pretty solid. I felt Kaya Scodelario was perfect for this role, her face is so gentle and has this believable innocence that you rarely find. I knew she had something special when I first saw her on Skins and not because she was hawt (She’s older than me so not creepy). After seeing her in this I now have to see what she has to offer in her future films because this performance was perfect and surprisingly her accent to. Biel was business as usual, solid playing her role to an eerie believability,

Some parts of the film were shot beautifully typically involving montages and water. We see moments where water floods Emanuel’s surroundings to symbolize what I think is her rebirth, inner purity and subconscious as she develops a mother-daughter relationship with Linda which she has longed for since birth, it later illustrates a much self fulfilled meaning. Another great addition to the film is the soundtrack, it fits perfectly aiding the tone of the story.

It may be a film that proves to be unpopular as it lacks melodramatic moments and a generic tone but it just wouldn’t have been real if it went out to be these things. It’s a story about how human connection and relationships can help you as there are always people out that can relate to your problems and the only way to help oneself is to accept reality and make your own destiny. That was my take on it anyways.