Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of 2011’s biggest surprises. After the disastrous 2001 remake of the original, everyone was cynical about this franchise reboot. No one expected it to be any good, and to a lot of people’s surprise, it wasn’t just good. It was extremely good. The incredible special effects combined with a character driven storyline resulted into one memorable movie. With such a precedent, expectations are high for the sequel.
Rise was described as intelligent science fiction—- which is becoming such a rarity in the genre. I’m glad to say Dawn of the Planet of the Apes can be described the same way. Tonally, it’s very different. All the dark palettes create the somber mood in this post apocalyptic world, in contrast to the vibrant and colourful world audiences were initially introduced to in the first one. Still, characterisation takes precedence over anything else. Once again the special effects team at WETA have outdone themselves. It’s amazing how they made the apes look so real in the first one. In this movie, the realism is even more outstanding, you’re bound to forget those apes are merely CGI creations. And it’s even more astounding how these apes could convey more expressions when compared to their human counterparts. But no matter how great the special effects are, everything would be for naught if it didn’t have a compelling storyline to back it up. It’s an age old tale about war, something a lot of people would be familiar with. Yet it doesn’t look cliche. The events that are transpired resonates with the events we see and hear in the real world. How people just can’t seem to get along. How people choose to manipulate events for personal gain. How peace always seems to be within our grasps, yet continues to be out of reach. This is a profound tale about war and peace, and how everything doesn’t look so silly despite having a cast of mostly apes is a testament to the talent off screen. This is an art house flick disguised as a summer blockbuster. Things start slow, but the tension is continuously palpable before all hell breaks loose. Those looking for quality entertainment amidst all the noise created by summer tentpole films shouldn’t pass this one up.
My rating: 4.5/5
This is the 4th Transformers movie in a span of 7 years. Anyone buying a ticket for this movie should know what they are getting into by now. Before entering the movie theater, it is mandatory to check your brain at the door. Therefore any review of this movie that tries to sound intellectual should be ignored. This is a Michael Bay film. And as proven by every single movie in this series, why the heck would you look for substance in a Transformers movie?
So yeah. There’s not much of a plot. And for such a simple plot, it’s amazing how the story can still seem convoluted. I can even ignore how the setting suddenly shifts to China for no apparent reason other than to attract Chinese audiences once the movie is released, which is becoming commonplace with Hollywood movies these days. But I didn’t watch this movie for the plot. I came to see action scenes, explosions, robots fighting, car chases, kick ass special effects. I wanted to be blown away by the things i see onscreen, And this movie definitely delivered… Especially on IMAX. Wow. But it didn’t just deliver—- it kept delivering all those things… relentlessly. On and on and on until everything became a blur, until everything became tiresome, no matter how elaborate the spectacle onscreen. And that is this film’s major problem. It runs for 165 freaking minutes for Christ’s sake. Even if you’d check your brain at the door, you can only take so much mindless entertainment before your mind gets numb. Eventually you’d yearn for a little substance, and this movie has none to offer. I really had fun watching during the first hour or two, but after that i just couldn’t wait for it to end. The novelty of seeing giant robots onscreen is starting to wear off. If they plan to continue making a lot more of these movies, they better start doing something to keep things fresh. And no, a new batch of human characters won’t suffice when they basically play interchangeable stereotypes. Maybe a plot that makes sense to start with. Or injecting a semblance of substance amidst all that dumb fun. And as exemplified by this movie, a bit of brevity would help…. A LOT. Even the least discerning of us would eventually get tired if you keep showing the same damn things. You could get away with those things the first time. But for the fourth outing? I would say they still did. But just barely.
My rating: 3.5/5
21 Jump Street was a pleasant surprise. I never expected to like it as much as I did. For the sequel, like most sequels—- we get more of the same. That’s not really a bad thing. Since it’s a comedy, it can freely move into the realm of a parody. Together with the high degree of self awareness, this movie was so much fun to watch. Whether that self awareness aims to make a statement about unnecessary sequels, or just a clever gimmick to shield this movie from complaints that it offers nothing new is still up for debate. What’s certain is this movie offers so much laughs, anyone who loved the first movie will surely love this one as well. Some jokes fall flat, but the chemistry between the two leads hardly makes them noticeable. When a movie is this funny, it doesn’t really matter that much if we get more of the same.
My rating: 4/5
How To Train Your Dragon was a special film. Unlike most films made by Dreamworks Animation, it did not rely on slapstick and childish humor, nor did it rely on a bazillion pop culture references. That alone made it real special. It may not be as good as Pixar's best efforts, but it was an animated movie with a lot of heart. That again made it different from majority of Dreamwork's animated movies which can be best described as amusing but ultimately forgettable.
Even though the trailers did not interest me, i was looking forward to the sequel. The story in the first film wasn’t quite open ended though. It was hard to see which direction the sequel was headed. It was a story that seemed to have a definite ending, so there was a risk of ruining the whole story if they expanded it. I wouldn’t say the sequel ruined the world created in the first movie, but it surely didn’t make it better. What we get is some sort of a mixed bag.
It seems that in the process of expanding the world these characters lived in, the film makers seemed to have spread everything thinly. There’s a lot of stuff going on, and the film seemed to lack some focus. That sense of intimacy from the simple story we got from the first film was set aside for something bigger and bolder. And we all know bigger does not necessarily mean better. The visuals are spectacular especially during those flying scenes—- and there are loads of them. No doubt kids everywhere would get a kick out of watching, whether or not they understand the story. Although most adults would find this movie entertaining, a lot of em would be left wanting. Sad to say this isn’t that rare sequel that manages to be better than the first. It also doesn’t quite feel like a natural expansion, in fact sometimes it still seems like a cash grab. I guess it is, just one that isn’t so blatant. But at least this isn’t like a lot of sequels that only manage to ruin all the good will from the first movie. It may not be a better movie, but we can see in every frame that the film makers did at least try to make it one….
my rating: 3.5/5
It’s amazing how great a movie can be when you come in with the lowest of expectations. For one thing, those movie trailers weren’t very interesting. They made it seem like a mish mash of a lot of things we’ve all seen before. Also, the groundhog day plot made the movie seem very tedious to sit through. Who would want to sit through a redundant and derivative movie during the summer? And for me, the worst part is the lead actor. I really can’t stand Tom Cruise these days. I was really prepared to hate this movie.
But with clever direction and editing, the groundhog day scenario wasn’t tedious at all. It has a plot that actually had some depth for a sci-fi movie. There are loads of action and awesome special effects that put it toe to toe with some if this summer’s more high profile blockbusters. There are lots of funny moments too that serve to break the monotony of all those explosions. Those comedic touches do not look misplaced at all. The fact that the transition from comedy to action to drama flows so smoothly is a testament to the great talent behind the cameras. It’s a pity that this movie is destined to get lost in all the summer noise. With better promotion and a less polarizing lead actor, this movie could’ve reached a larger audience. Fans of sci-fi and action movies shouldn’t let this one pass.
my rating: 4.5/5
There’s nothing wrong with this trend of re-imagining old stories and movies. If done properly, they give a refreshing take to an old story. The difference in perspective can even result in interesting scenarios. But when they only serve to muddle the original story and add nothing to enrich it, those people in charge of these new movies should have just left the original stories alone. Take Maleficent for instance. It can be best described as a patchwork of unrelated scenes, a movie so disjointed that the story fails to move smoothly. A lot of those scenes were even unnecessary, you’d often wonder what was the point of all that. The special effects were great, sure, and Angelina Jolie seemed to be born to play this role, but other than those things? It’s a great idea on paper, but with such a horrible script and confused direction, take out all the eye candy and this movie can only be described as mediocre. Kids might get a kick out of all those special effects, but discerning adults would be wise to just skip this one.
my rating: 2.5/5
This shouldn’t be anyone’s first X-men movie. People who haven’t seen any of the previous movies should at least watch the first three—- that’s right, including the atrocious third one. There’s so much going on and there are so many references to the previous films that the uninitiated among us are bound to get confused. Not only would they think this movie is unnecessarily convoluted, they might hate it outright. But for the fans, and for anyone who has been following this series from the very beginning—- Oh boy, you guys are in for a treat. From the opening sequence to the last few minutes of the movie, a lot of scenes are gonna make you smile.
The time traveling scenario was indeed clever. Not only does is open up multiple possibilities going forward, it also erases the sins of the past, particularly the head scratching events that transpired in The Last Stand. Lots of continuity errors still exist, but none of em are big enough to be considered major distractions. With such a huge cast, one would expect a film as massive as this to implode, but with brilliant and fast paced direction, such a scenario was mostly avoided. This isn’t your typical mindless summer blockbuster. Like most of the other Xmen movies, this has an underlying message that resonates. I still think First Class is the best X-men movie, but this new installment comes pretty close. With a stellar cast, great acting, jaw dropping special effects and set pieces, this movie delivers in so many levels. If you only have time to see one movie among this summer’s tent pole films, this is arguably the one to watch.
My rating: 4.5/5
The great thing about misleading movie trailers? You’re bound to get a lot of people watching on opening weekend. The downside? Word of mouth could get pretty bad when people don’t get to see what they expect. I wouldn’t have watched this movie if the promos showed what it’s really about. But i have to admit, i didn’t hate it like i thought i would.
The thing about creature features and monster vs monster movies is, you have to have a strong human protagonist that could serve as an anchor that audiences can relate to. Otherwise, it’s gonna be like watching a video game cut scene. No matter how great everything looks onscreen, if there’s no strong human component, most audiences wouldn’t care. And I guess that’s the main problem with this movie. Aaron Taylor Johnson serves as that anchor. He is not a bad actor at all, but he lacks the necessary acting chops and screen presence to carry the whole weight of this movie on his shoulders. The movie avoids being campy unlike other creature features, but without a strong lead character, the whole scenario still seems preposterous. Bryan Cranston would have been a better lead actor, but he only plays a minor role, contradictory to what those trailers suggest. The movie also reaches the point of disaster fatigue, and it barely avoids becoming tiresome. It’s not a bad movie at all, but with better casting and a few edits here and there, it could have been so much better.
my rating: 3/5
I was one of those who thought that The Amazing Spiderman was a premature and unnecessary reboot. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the decision of making our titular hero dark and brooding like Batman. But still, i knew that it wasn’t a bad movie. It turned out pretty good actually, and it set up a lot of potential… which this sequel completely ruins. First, the good things. The action sequences were well done. The special effects were mind-blowing, especially when seen in an IMAX theatre. And I couldn’t find anything wrong with the casting. Everyone played their roles perfectly. But apparently, Sony didn’t learn a lesson from their follies in Spiderman 3 which made a reboot seemed necessary in the first place. You know why that movie was bad? Why people considered it the rotten part of what was supposed to be a great trilogy? They tried to cram so much stuff in one movie that all those interesting plot points just resulted to some jumbled and cluttered mess. The Amazing Spiderman 2 does the exact same thing. They tried to cram so much in one movie that there seems to be no consistent narrative, just a bunch of scenes haphazardly put together. There was not enough time for character development. A lot of those plot points were even unnecessary. You could take them out and you would lose absolutely nothing. The way the tone shifts abruptly from one plot point to another can even be a bit disorienting. Also, they seem to be more preoccupied with setting up sequels and spinoffs that they forgot to tell a decent story first. As a result, the emotional kick that you’d expect to feel in the end didn’t really happen. The emotional investment that these producers expect audiences to give just seems so unearned.
The Amazing Spiderman 2 isn’t really horrible… I could sit through it again if someone asked me to. But wasting all that potential makes this movie pretty bad. If this goes on, expect another reboot in the next five years or so. I just hope viewers won’t be suffering from Spiderman fatigue by then. It would be pitiful if they finally get things on the right track and people just don’t care about the webslinger anymore.
my rating: 3/5