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!

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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.

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.

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.

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

f140aad0-e041-11e3-bbab-c14b02f09f69_transformers-age-of-extinctionRoze-Rating: 2.5 / 5

Following the attack on Chicago, there is a sense of bitterness towards the transformers. Unknown to the public, Decepticons and Autobots are being hunted down and killed for their scraps, sanctioned by corrupt CIA operatives. Of all places, Cade Yeager finds a torn up truck in an abandoned cinema hoping to sell the parts for enough cash to put his daughter through college. When he discovers that it isn’t your average truck, his life takes a turn for the worst.

Now I’ve never been a hater of the Transformer franchise or ever boarded the “down with Michael Bay” bandwagon, because I actually find his films fun and thoroughly entertaining, but this time around I’m finding it hard to defend the CGI addicted director. I’ll give him Transformers one as it was actually a pretty good action flick, and what made it so good was that element of mystery, for people who weren’t familiar with transformers or ever had a history with them, the first installment was perfect. We’re learning about who the transformers are and how significant their rivalry with the Decepticons is, and the bond they form with the humans adds an extra layer to the transformers that makes them admirable characters. But as the sequels increase the more shallow the franchise has become, and when we take a step back and think about the films together as a series, it’s evident that there’s no progression and it never intends to, instead there’s more of a desire to include as much CGI as possible, dress the girls down as eye candy and make a simple story over complicated. And that’s a shame as the characters are pretty badass. That being said I’m one of those people that totally fell for the plethora of explosions and destruction that was Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Yes a lot of it was ridiculous, and there are moments that annoy me, but you can’t fault the entertainment value it offers and some of those action sequences are jaw dropping. Looking back you can tell that Bay took on the criticism from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and improved the franchise immensely, because that film achieved the complete opposite of what it intended to do. The story was bloated and the pacing was completely off, making for an overlong film that was ultimately boring despite the non stop action. Unfortunately Transformers: Age of Extinction does not move forward as Dark of the Moon did, but instead takes a huge step backwards.

Unsurprisingly this film is visually brilliant, there’s one thing Bay can do and that is make a great looking action film. The CGI is incredible and has come a long way since the first film of the series, you would honestly think that these robots were real if you were a kid watching for the first time. Of course if you’re looking for explosions, explosions and more explosions then this film will hit the spot perfectly; it would be hard to find a film that can top the amount of destruction that you’ll get in this. But If you’re looking for an action film with a coherent story and uncliched characters then this may be 2 hours and 37 minutes you’d rather save for another trip to the cinema.

There’s a reason I could tolerate Transformers: Dark of the Moon, and that was because I cared about the characters having spent two films getting to know them with the exception of Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Just like Dark of the Moon missed Mikaela (Megan Fox), Age of Extinction missed Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf), just because followers of the franchise have already developed a relationship with the character and in addition that relationship between Witwicky and the Autobots. Mark Wahlberg is great in this film but in all honesty I didn’t care much for his character or the others, and that’s down to how cliched and cheesy they are. For the first time in a film, I actually disapproved of seeing a beautiful girl in short shorts, just because we’ve seen it so many times before in a Transformers film, why must it be a perquisite to have a gorgeous girl cast in these films. The good thing about Megan Fox and her character was that there was more too her than met the eye, she was a badass and had a legitimate reason to be involved with the transformers. Ultimately the characters are just bad, I mean the only reason I remember Shane (Jack Reynor) is because of his Irish accent.

Now the storytelling is pretty terrible, there are countless moments which could have easily been condensed and reduced the run time significantly, making for a less exhausting watch. The story alone is generic, haven’t we already had a government conspiracy plot line before. The most interesting thing about the film is the Transformers and their conflict between helping the humans or accepting they don’t want them there, and that’s where the tireless critique returns, make the transformers purely the heart of the films!

Despite the action being pretty well choreographed and executed, there’s so much of it that it really does suffocate you. The amount of shaky cam and low angle shots used within the long action sequences makes it so hard to concentrate on the screen. I had to look away and blink a few times just to make sure my eyes weren’t trying to wriggle their way out of their sockets. Admittedly I did enjoy the final action segment, just because it’s pretty hilarious and the urban warfare approach is totally my thing. I just wish they kept that same lighthearted tone from start to finish, because the worst parts of the film are when it tries too hard to be serious, and therefore sucking all the fun out of it.

Ultimately there’s no surprise towards how the film has turned out, we all know what to expect with Michael Bay films and especially when coming from the Transformers franchise. It may be time for a fresh face to take over and inject the imagination and inspired ideas that this film really missed. That being said if you’re in the mood for hardcore action to fry your brain then this will do the trick.

Off The Radar: Grand Piano (2014)

grand_piano_still_a_lRoze-Rating: 3.5 / 5

Tom Selznick branded as the most talented pianist of his generation returns on stage for a comeback performance after five years of retirement, as a result of nightmare performance that halted his career in an instant. To add to his ongoing nerves, during the opening of his concert he discovers a message on his score sheet stating that he will be killed if he makes a mistake. While playing in front of a large audience, Tom must figure out who has him at gun point and for what reasons.

This isn’t your average thriller as the premise may suggest, and that may be why the film isn’t a complete flop. That being said behind the preconceived premise, the twists and turns that take place may not be as inventive as one hopes. What saves it from becoming a generic thriller is the direction of Eugenio Mira and performance of Elijah Wood, who has relished his freedom lately and taken up a number of low budget projects. Grand Piano is set in one location and is filmed in real time, yet it remains engaging and is rarely dull.

As classical music is, the camera work is elegant in its movement and is reluctant to use the same angles excessively keeping the location fresh but also working hand in hand with the music as a way of expressing the chaos taking place in front of a clueless audience. The cinematography as a whole is a good enough reason to watch this film. The editing is also masterfully utilized on occasions to symbolize violent acts, such as suddenly cutting to the stroke of a bow along a cello’s strings to show what crime had just occurred. Without the sophisticated camera work, Grand Piano would lack the thrills and tension which make the film at times exciting.

Upon doing some research I was surprised to find out that Elijah Wood has limited piano playing abilities and that most of what was filmed was the craft of his hands, and that alone merits praise for his performance. Having to concentrate on his precise hand movements, acting and listening to John Cusack via an earpiece takes some major multitasking skills and it totally succeeded. Despite not seeing much of John Cusack, his voice succeeds in being convincingly menacing.

It is an unusual film but that’s what gives it character, providing quite a pleasantly unique viewing experience. It’s tense when it intends to be and quirky in others, despite underwhelming twists and perhaps a payoff too, it’s a film definitely worth watching as a guide on how to make a low budget film that looks classy and is as intriguing as any other blockbuster thriller; and hey it make even convert you into a classical music enthusiast too.

The Lego Movie (2014)

the_lego_movie_2014-wideRoze-Rating: 4.5 / 5

Emmet is your average construction worker living life by the rules, always sticking to the instructions enforced by president Business. What Emmet isn’t aware of is that his mind is capable of so much more than conforming with everyone around him, and that he has the potential to be just as special as the people he looks up to. Unaware of the coming onslaught of President Business and his Kragal, Emmet finds the “piece of resistance”, the key to saving the universe they live in.

Coming from the directors of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” and the “21 Jump Street” franchise, The Lego Movie clearly have Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s footprints embedded into it, from the quirky humor to the larger than life action sequences. Finally a film utilizing it’s ensemble cast to its full potential. Up and comer Chris Pratt is the highlight of the film, voice acting as Emmet, and for anyone who’s a fan of “Parks and Recreation”, will be pleasantly treated to a character with hints of Andy written all over it. We are also treated to the likes of Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Morgan Freeman and Will Ferrell, and other big name cameo’s on top of that. The cast may be large but they all have their moments providing laughs for both adults and kids.

The major highlight of this film has to be the animation which has reached new grounds making each piece of Lego look real enough to grab from the screen. As Lego should be, the aesthetics are colourfully glossy with no limits to imagination. The way the pieces move and assemble is masterfully animated, taking the old timers back to their childhoods and entertaining the kids, possibly giving them ideas for their next big creation. That is where this film succeeds, the Lego really are the stars of the film. Exuding a sense of nostalgia for the older audiences while creating an atmosphere of fun for everyone else.

Both Lord and Miller acknowledged that their first effort in film lacked heart and a true connection between audience and character, although Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was a success for its humor, this time around they’ve successfully found the best of both worlds. What I like about this film is that they never forget what Lego is all about and what it represents and in a way it’s a homage to the toy itself. President Business (Will Ferrell) is the bad guy, enforcing rules and instructions on the public with the ultimate goal of making things permanent. The film illustrates the endless possibility of Lego and encourages imagination and individualism going beyond the instructions you’re given, despite it being based on Lego, it goes for all things in life and that’s as big a connection you can make with an audience.

On top of the messages, what makes this film one of the best of the year, are the little details representing the nuances of playing with Lego, making it so relatable and real. for example the odd manual sound effects as a detachable building floor flies away, or the use of everyday household objects as toys, clueless to what they’re actually for. It’s a definite must watch film of 2014, and has Academy Award nomination written all over it.