X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)

dofpRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

The original X-Men cast return to the big screen as they are under the attack of Bolivar Trask’s (Peter Dinklage) Sentinel program. Casualties are high and rising, as the mutants aren’t the only species being attacked but also the humans who dare to help them. This leaves earth under brutal control of the worst of society, with the mutant killing machines at their disposal. The only way to save the world is to turn back time and prevent the very event which caused the genocide. This requires Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to be sent back to the 70s to stop Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) from killing Trask, an event which dictated the view of mutants around the globe.

I will say right off the bat that this is the best X-Men film to date. After multiple viewings my opinion does not change as it’s quite simply a great film. What it does is give us a true in depth exploration of these characters, not all of them, but a lot more than what previous X-Men films achieved to do. This meant Wolverine was able to take a seat back and give other characters a turn. I think Singer recognized that and for once the characters are given the respect they deserve. This film is filled with great character driven moments, and in my opinion they stand out much more than the action, which was also brilliant. This is completely down to Simon Kinberg’s screenplay, which gave us complex characters, encouraging us to think a little bit and allowing us to make our own opinions about these characters. A stand out moment would be a heated argument between Professor X and Magneto (young) as they are flying to find Mystique. It becomes clear that these are two people who have the mutants well being in mind, but their ideologies about how to go about protecting them are vastly different. For once Magneto isn’t portrayed as bad. We are able to understand his ideology and for a moment sympathize for him as he protests Professor X’s self-pity. These ideologies are further explored as Mystique is caught in between them, trying to pave her own path towards saving the mutants. Ultimately the writing really makes this a great film.

I was always a bit underwhelmed by how the characters powers were translated on screen, not all the time, but I felt this way more times than I should have. Days of Future past finally nails it as it feels more fluid and organic rather than confused and flat. I never liked Storm (Halle Berry) because I thought her powers were a bit lame, but after this film I finally understand her badassery. Right from the opening scene I knew that things were going to be different on the action side, and they were for the better. Like they say, one stick is easy to break, but a bunch of sticks are almost impossible to break. Much like their powers, they function better when they work as a team, and quite evidently it’s much more entertaining. It says a lot that Wolverine was probably one of the tamest characters throughout the whole film.

With the rise of this comic book movie phenomenon, it’s encouraging to see that the acting is not being compromised as this film has some of the best performances I’ve seen in a comic book film. If future films of this genre continue to go in this vein then I have a lot of money to save for the 20 odd comic book films which are going to be raiding our local cinemas in the coming years. Seeing this cast on screen is awe inducing right to the end. Making it even harder for me to hold in all my emotions as both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy share an intense moment of screen time, which did not disappoint.

There is no denying that this film will make it onto peoples top 10 lists for comic book films. If not your best comic book films list, then your best comic book film moments list. The moment I’m referring to is the Quicksilver scene, which is hands down the best scene I’ve seen in awhile. It’s inventive, funny, badass and totally appropriate for the representation of his power. One thing is for sure, Aaron Taylor Johnson is gonna have to do something special to have one over on Evan Peters.

For a superhero film it felt somewhat down to earth, as if we were watching real people with genetic differences to us. The way they integrated real life events like the JFK assassination and the Vietnam war made the X-Men universe feel real which only enhances the feeling that this is more than just a comic book film but a film about these characters who are complex and interesting. Bryan Singer has genuinely saved the X-Men franchise by erasing all the continuity problems of past x-men films and giving the new cast a chance at a perfect trilogy without the burden of knowing Wolverin: Origins and X-Men: The Last Stand exist, the ending is the ultimate cherry on top to that.

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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!

Chef (2014)

Chef-1Roze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Having gone through a stint of directing rather large budget films, Jon Favreau has “gone back to basics” with Chef, a film about cooking as a passion and a way of life. Carl Casper (Jon Favreau) is a passionate chef running his own kitchen at a stable restaurant, yet he is unhappy. Restaurateur Riva (Dustin Hoffman) wants him to play it safe but after countless years of serving the same food, all Casper wants is freedom so that he can go back to enjoying his passion once again.

Chef is one of those films that has you smiling throughout its run time, not purely from its humor but from its down to earth charm and feel good vibe. Everyone has a passion, it may dominate our lives or it may just be a hobby but we all have one. Seeing Carl Casper living his passion and being it is not only a joy to watch but inspiring for all us dreamers out there. Chef is a film that tells us that the measure of success is not large sums of money or working in a respected establishment, but the currency of happiness. Casper may have been blind to his unhappiness for years but once his creativity is obstructed he realizes that freedom is all he needs to be happy again, and just like Jon Favreau, going back to basics is the way to go.

What I love about chef is the detail that’s gone into depicting cooking and food as a passion, all the intricate details from handling the food to the acting. I totally bought into Jon Favreau’s character because he totally embodies this person who lives for food and all he wants to do is share his passion with others so that they can experience everything he loves about his art, and isnt that what all artists strive to do. But just like any art, it can be corrupted by external forces be it the industries or people that want to take control and that’s when problems occur. Ultimately the direction is brilliant, Chef is a film that knows what it wants to be, a grounded, character driven piece of film with a great soundtrack.

My favorite moments in the film are equally the same moments I hate because it makes me so damn hungry!. Seeing Casper handling his food as if each ingredient was his own child, so delicate and perfectly handled just hits home how much he loves what he does. It makes those father-son montages later on in the film that much more pleasing and effective, as we get to see Casper share his passion with his son. A relatable theme for me especially, bringing me back to the days where being told to do all the crappy chores from my dad was called bonding.

As for performances, props to Emjay Anthony playing Casper’s son, who gives for me the best performance in the film. He’s just a kid stuck in between his parents divorce who doesn’t quite understand it but at the end of the day he just wants to hang out with his dad. He’s innocent but optimistic, never intending to be overly emotional about the situation, just making the most of his time with his dad. As a result of his performance, the father son relationship steals the show.

It may not be the most eventful road trip film but it sure is the tastiest, offering an upbeat playlist of latin jazz and flavor, a film that will make you want to go out and partake in your passion.

Three Film Feast: Star Wars (Original Trilogy)

Star Wars OTRoze-Verdict: Possibly the greatest trilogy ever made.

Films;
– Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (1977)
– Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
– Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983)

Directors;
– George Lucas (A New Hope)
– Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back)
– Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi)

Main Cast;
– Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker)
– Harrison Ford (Han Solo)
– Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia)
– James Earl Jones (Darth Vader Voice)
– Billy Dee Williams (Lando)
– Alec Guinness (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
– Kenny Baker (R2-D2)
– Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
– Frank Oz (Yoda)
– Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)

George Lucas had a vision, his vision included star fighters, talking robots, Jedi nights, gangster worm monsters, storm troopers, countless planets and a death star. All things that we would have loved to think of. Lucas was so passionate about his project he later produced the final two films independently, with the intentions of protecting his work from being meddled with by film studios. Although a difficult task, he succeeded in making a long lasting trilogy which created die hard fans around the globe.

There’s a good reason why Star Wars is such a classic and that’s because it’s absolutely incredible. From the characters to the locations, it is not short of imagination, it makes me wonder where all this innovation has gone to nowadays. Of course there’s no surprise that George Lucas creator of Star Wars also played a large part in writing the Indiana Jones series which is probably my favorite film franchise to date. It’s not hard to see similarities in both these franchises as the adventure is what the films are all about. What’s great about this trilogy is that it works as a 6 hour film, as the story picks off from where the last one ended. What’s even better is that each film ends satisfyingly avoiding that irritating cliffhanger feeling. Does it hold up compared to films nowadays? Absolutely and probably exceeds them in terms of quality.

I think anyone who can make a robot, that can’t speak, one of the most lovable characters on screen, should get massive praise. Almost half the characters in the franchise can’t speak a language we understand, yet they are memorable and characters we empathize with, most notably Chewbaka, R2-D2 and Wicket the Ewok. That goes for all the characters, they are all interesting and have personalities we can relate to, but they really wouldn’t be anything without the bonds they share. The likes of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia and even Lando share a chemistry that’s addictive, it makes us want to see more of them and come out victorious. Another brilliant character is Darth Vader, the very person we’re meant to despise. Even though he was an evil bastard in the first couple of films, I couldn’t help but admire his no nonsense style and persistence. Which is why after the “shocking” ending of The Empire Strikes Back, we realize there’s even more to him than we thought. Nowadays our villains on screen are one dimensional and share similar motives, it’s refreshing to witness such a character transformation of a villain on screen because what initially is a feeling of bitterness towards Darth Vader ends in one of the most emotional and heart warming scenes of the trilogy. I can’t stress how brilliant these characters are.

For a film made 30 odd years ago where CGI was on the brink of development, it doesn’t do too bad of a job. If I’m not mistaken Star Wars was one of the first films to use CGI at its full potential during that time period and prompted future use of it in films like Alien and Superman: The Movie. George Lucas of course went on to build his own visual effects company which is pretty much the reason we have incredible CGI imagery in blockbuster films today. In respect to the time period Star Wars was made, they were smart in using the CGI only where necessary so it didn’t get tiresome or draw attention to its flaws. What I think enhanced the underdeveloped CGI is the costume and set design which is some of the best I’ve ever seen in film. Some may disagree and argue that it makes the alien characters look noticeably fake but there is a charm to it. Knowing that the human characters are acting with objects within the scene makes it all that more convincing, more so than some films nowadays where actors have to pretend that the CGI characters are there with them, most recently Transformers. We are immersed in the lands they explore and the surroundings because the sets are expertly built with emphasis on detail and the location scouting is bold. After the films, it doesn’t just make you want to build a light saber and fight evil, but it makes you want to explore and have you’re own epic adventure as these characters did.

For a time where cynicism inhabited most things in society such as music, media and even films, Star Wars really brought back an optimistic and hopeful perspective on life and the future. It’s a simple story between good and evil, where peoples choices and free will define them, and no matter what, the good will smash the evil. Even though there’s a possibility Luke could turn to the dark side, we never believe it because his character is so pure and likable, he’s the every man, someone we can all relate to, and by the end of the trilogy, someone we strive to be. As well as being a great story, it’s also a lot of fun. Probably the biggest positive about Star Wars is what a good time it is, no matter how many times you watch it, Han Solo’s sarcastic humor and wit will make you smile, as well as the back and forth dialogue between the characters. It really is the definition of a “popcorn flick”, and I think that’s largely down to how passionate George Lucas is and how well the actors know the characters. They play them with so much confidence and awareness of how the characters should be portrayed, that we are able to buy into them. Ultimately the film knows exactly what it wants to be, which is a quirky, fantastical space opera that needs to be watched religiously because “if you’re not trillion at least once every three years, the dark side wins” (How I Met Your Mother reference).

The Other Woman (2014)

20140425TheOtherWoman3Roze-Rating: 1.5 / 5

Carly (Cameron Diaz), Kate (Leslie Mann) and Amber (Kate Upton) have one thing in common, they are all seeing the same man, Mark (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Even though they all meet in this awkward circumstance, they form a strong friendship which prompts their goal of destroying Mark’s life. What follows is a mixture of emotions for Kate who finds a life without her husband hard to digest but eventually with the help of her two new friends she learns that she deserves better.

This film reminds me of those old school comedies we used to get that only ever offered cheesy dialogue and cheap laughs, but they were strangely satisfying. Films like Daddy Day Care and Meet The Fockers, they weren’t exactly creative in the plot department but they executed their brand of humor in the best way possible. The Other Woman initially seems vapid from its trailers but could have turned out quite empowering for anyone who is unfortunate enough to be with a manipulative cheater. I felt it was stuck in between wanting to tell a light hearted story with a strong message and being a quirky comedy. Ultimately it doesn’t offer either of these things despite it’s efforts. The problem with the comedy is that it feels outdated, with the likes of Neighbors, 22 Jump Street and This is the End, comedies like The Other Woman really need to step it up. I mean the poop jokes are so overdone nowadays, in terms of ways to torture a guy, the possibilities are endless and that’s why the lack of imagination is really disappointing. That being said it seemed to get a relatively positive audience response with a 65% score on Rotten Tomatoes, this could be because of a strong female cast, Kate Upton’s Bay Watch moment or people actually enjoyed this film. I can’t say I agree with the audience tomato meter on this one.

We are given three different characters with considerably different personalities, we have Leslie Mann playing a housewife, Cameron Diaz as a strong minded lawyer and Kate Upton as the girl next door. Having this type of diversity supports its message, saying that no matter who you are, no woman deserves to be used or needs a man to depend on. It would have been effective if the characters weren’t so one dimensional. This is no criticism to the actors because they did well with what they were given, I just think if the film had a clearer direction and really empowered the trio by illustrating its message consistently and having a coherent ending, then it could have been heaps better. Leslie Mann actually has some great moments in the film, where she’s hesitant about leaving her husband, moments that are grounded and realistic as it’s a situation that would be hard to accept for anyone. Moments like that gave the film some potential, to add layers to a story which is largely thin. Talking about moments, Nicki Minaj surprised me immensely. She must have a knack for acting because she seemed so down to earth and reserved, which is not the Nicki Minaj we all know, I weirdly want to see more from her.

As a comedy The Other Woman doesn’t really work for me, there are a few laughs here and there, but for such a talented cast who have experience with comedy, they didn’t utilize them at their full potential. I’d rather see Leslie Mann improv more or bring out Kate Upton’s quirky personality that we’re all so fond of, than see a guy crap his pants. As for a film that empowers women, it too false very short. There’s a scene where Leslie Mann’s character throws her wedding ring into the sea to an emotional song, a scene which is intended to be a defining moment for her character but it runs like a music video, completely cheapening the moment, which represents what the film is as a whole.

Trailer Park: Lucy (2014)


Verdict: Buying a ticket!

Director: Luc Besson
Screenwriter: Luc Besson
Main Cast: Scarlett Johansson, Min-Sik Choi, Morgan Freeman

Coming to screens soon is Luc Besson’s Lucy, probably one of the most exciting films he has been involved with in awhile. Besson of course coming off a bad year with The Family, would like to come back with a success. It’s about time we get a film with a little something different, of course with the surge of superhero movies over the past few years this may become a big hit as Scarjo AKA Black Widow is boasting some badass brain super powers. It’s about time Scarlett Johansson started pursuing action films as we’ve seen her reprise her role as Black Widow three times now brilliantly, and Lucy looks like the perfect film to legitimately cement her as an action star. The trailer doesn’t really reveal anything unique in its premise, as it simply seems like a revenge flick, but when do revenge flicks ever get boring; I mean we have Oldboy’s Min-Sik Choi cast as the bad guy, who is known for having a particular set of skills with a hammer. What makes this film intriguing though is the drug and its effects on Scarlett Johansson’s character, it obviously increases brain power significantly as Morgan Freeman explains, but the abilities that Johansson develops influences a whole bag of baddassary. Ultimately we know to expect some great visuals and action sequences, but in terms of story we’re not really given much to know confidently what direction Lucy’s journey for justice will take her.

Off The Radar: Premature (2014)

premature-movie-poster-01-1390x2048Roze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

Premature may look like your average teen gross out comedy judging from the unknown cast and budget production, and you would be right to assume that but it doesn’t matter because aren’t the point of comedy films to entertain you and make you laugh? Rob Crabbe (John Karna) is a normal teen coming to the end of high school, but just like any male teen he has fantasies, fantasies causing him to wake up with slimy boxers and an awkward mother telling him to put his own sheets in the wash after walking in on him. What Rob soon finds out is that whenever he releases his special sauce during the day, he lands right back in bed in the same awkward situation as before. Some would find it a burden but eventually Rob embraces it, which could potentially break him out of the “curse”.

I’ve seen enough of these B-movie comedies to know not to take them too seriously, or expect a lot out of them, but something about Premature sets it apart from the others. For one the premise is quite fun, it’s already been branded as Groundhog Day meets American Pie, and I’d say that seems quite accurate. It has the exact same format as Groundhog Day but takes a more gross out, cheap laugh root towards its comedy. That being said the jokes try not to be cheesy or overdone, and that’s probably down to the comedic timing and likability of the cast.

There’s something about Craig Roberts that makes me laugh, it could be his stone cold facial expressions, the fact I can’t help thinking he would look good in glasses or his hilarious delivery, whatever it is it makes me want to see more from him. Improv or not he has some hilariously memorable quotes. An example “It’s a scientific fact that your blood pressure drops when you orgasm, it’s like your balls are shooting yoga through your veins”, classic. He’s already starred in recent hits such as 22 Jump Street and Neighbors, so he must be doing something right. Alan Tudyk also makes a memorable appearance as a college admissions officer who happens to be a widower. I know it shouldn’t be funny but Tudyk somehow makes it funny, big fan of his after his appearance in Transformers 3. Also look out for Adam Riegler who looks as though he was pulled out from a Nickelodeon sit com, definitely a highlight of the film. As for John Karna, he is one of the few unknown leads, in these kind of films, that actually look promising for the future. He may not have done anything groundbreaking but at least I wasn’t trying to pretend he could act which is usually the case for these films, and he made me laugh multiple times which is the goal right?

If the film ever reaches your cinemas, I wouldn’t tell you to go spending money on a ticket, but I would tell you that if you’re like me and find it hard looking for new comedies to watch due to watching them all already, then this is a perfectly fun film for your weekend screen fix.