Thursday, 31 July 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

In the wake of a disaster that changer the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race. 

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is directed by Matt Reeves. This film is the sequel of the surprisingly good Rise of the Planet of the Apes. When it came out, a few years back now, people were not really into that film but it was pretty good. Matt Reeves actually proves that he CAN direct and deliver a movie which is looking FANTASTIC! This time the film is dealing with a concept of power struggle between Apes and Human but also among the Apes themselves. Plus it shows how people can hate and behave facing difficult times and in front of something that isn't familiar or an other group or race. Along the film we are discovering that Apes are not as different as we could have thought. In fact they are far more evolved than when we met them in the first movie: they have personality, they have interesting inter activities between each others like learning in school, code of conduct, consequences and most importantly a Leader. Caesar definitely steals the movie. We actually get really attach to the Apes. In fact there is no need of words in Apes' dialogues and proper conversations as they use body language, everything can be understood as they have emotional expressions in their eyes.  Plus, scenes are all so incredibly powerful and there is a great emotion flawing through the film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes improves in every ways possible the first film. The Apes are so well realised thanks to the motion capture work, they actually look like real Apes - which is incredible. Plus Andy Serkis never failed at motion capture he is one of the most talented actor of his generation. ACADEMY LISTEN: This guy has to win an Oscar someday! In fact there are few remarkable technological achievement in this movie, such as special effects, music, direction, motion capture looks, and a great emotional core. I was surprised at every turning point in the story throughout the film like "wait... we're not predictable, let us tell you the story!" Finally this film seems truly human to me even if the majority of the protagonist are Apes and it's full of content in relation to its length.

Overall this film is smartly optimised, it looks great, have very good cgi, it's exciting, it has good action sequences, great relationships and character development.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Movie Vs. Book: The Fault in Our Stars

Hazel and Gus are two teenagers who share an acerbic wit, a disdain for the conventional, and a love that sweeps then on a journey. Their relationship is all the more miraculous given that Hazel's other constant companion is an oxygen tank, Gus jokes about his prothestic leg, and they met and fell in love at a cancer support group.

The Fault in Our Stars is based on the New York Times Best Seller novel published in 2012, and written by John Green. At first I was a little bit worried to walk into a theatre for another book adaptation to a movie because (1) I loved the book and (2) there are so many of them nowadays. It became a proper trend; but gratefully TFIOS is different. 
This is a love story. It's a story of joy, devastating loss and most of all, life. It will make you laugh, rejoice, think, feel and will expend your heart with gratitude and humility, as well as change forever the way you hear the word "okay". YES it will make you cry! If you are one of the millions of people who have read TFIOS, you know this already. If you're not, prepare yourself as you will not walk away from this book, or this movie unaltered. I cried for the whole movie, if we're being honest. What struck me the most is that I thought I would leave really sad, but instead I felt hopeful and inspired. This movie is an encouragement. One of a kind you can take down into the darkness and it would still give you light. Personally, I read TFIOS the way Hazel falls in love with Gus: "slowly, and then all at once". I started out reading it a chapter at a time in between the papers I was grading and then I gave up on grading and read straight through till down. The strength of the film clearly comes from John Green's novel. The beauty of the book, and now the film is that it's a Young Adult novel that brought teens back to reality, which is good after years of popular YA fiction novels and movies revolving around vampires,wizards, deadly games and dystopian universes. That isn't just a "movie", Hazel's voice over intones over a close up of Shailene Woodley expressive eyes; but a document that dares to stare terminal illness baldly in the face rather than hide behind euphemisms. TFIOS' end is not that sad if we think about it for a second, it's uplifting and hopeful. It's emphasising the importance of making your days count, even if you have very few left. The movie manages to imitate those different feelings and does a great job of accurately bringing the book to life, thanks to a smart screenplay and dialogues. Plus, there are some aspects of this half-dreamy, half-earthbound romance that the director Josh Boone gets just right. Obviously certain scenes are cut but oddly non of these scenes are particularly crucial to the plot. However they may have helped to add some depth to the character. Mostly, I feel like the movie didn't really missed of anything. In fact, the most important aspect of this romance is the character's chemistry. Shailene Woodley (Hazel) and Ansel Elgort (Augustus) created two vibrant, believable parts filled with humour and intelligence. Hazel is clearly not afraid to die but she's scared of getting too close to people, and what they're going to do, how they're going to live without her. That's probably why it's so interesting to see how her parents deal with the fact that their child is dying. On the one hand Shailene Woodley embodies perfectly Hazel. She's her. She's funny, sarcastic and cynical. On the other hand, not to disrespect how amazing Shailene is in the film but Ansel Elgort is a real star. He's kind of the revelation of the movie. Gus character is tough as his heroic journey goes from strength to weakness, instead of the usual hero's journey from weakness to strength. He seems to have perfectly understood Gus in deep ways. He's brilliant. His character appeared like the best human being ever. By that I mean if everyone was like Gus there will be no problem at all on earth. Once again it's demonstrating how important is a strong supporting character in romance as they are are both overcoming the fact that they're dying of cancer (almost) together.

Indeed, cancer provides the butt of the film's most funny jokes, provides the power with which the story starts to squeeze the viewers first tears. TFIOS dearly refuses to become a stereotypical young-folks-in-love movie, but sometimes its trying to hard and it falls back into the cliché its trying to avoid. After all it's more complex and stylish than most similar films used to be. I loved how in different ways the novel shows the futility of the written words in the face of sickness and death - not just through the book-within-the book, An Imperial Affliction whose author gives the story its quest-based-plot - in the end no text and no piece of writing can e completely satisfying. The book and movie resists Hazel's grenade metaphor; as a person is not a weapon, and minimising casualties is not the point of love. The melodramatic trailer was a very good preview of the movie's spin off; but in this trailer when she says those words the cheerful pop soundtrack stopped and the romantic scenes suddenly gave way to dark slow motion images of a medical emergency. No one need any cinematic clues to feel the impact of the words. These summery Romantic stories are the YA fiction things. They are urgently nostalgic and also a kind of escape. They echoed as a philosophical essay question. Even if most of us were not that kind of teenagers who could seize the joy of the moment and hold on. When I get out of the theatre my best friend told me that it opened our tear ducts on the idea of dying young and wanting to fall in love with someone like Gus. She's right! And this is what YA fiction can do at their best when it works: open your tear ducts and then staunch the flow with something in between what you want and what you have - more drama but no actual answers, more love but no miracles. 
"The world is not a wish granting factory"
Finally TFIOS left us with one kid dying and one kid grieving. The kind of irresistible grief that is a full 10 on the pain scale. Though I melted gratefully into what A.O Scott calls TFIOS' "expertly built machine for the mass production of tears". 

Overall The Fault in Our Stars is not only reliable to people who have cancer but to everyone. Very well built with smart dialogues and good actors performances and chemistry which make the difference between a good romance and a shitty one (cc Twilight). I may have loved the movie as much as I loved the book.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction

A mechanic inventor, his daughter and her boyfriend find themselves joining the Autobots as they are targeted by a bounty hunter from another world and Humans.

Transformers: Age of Extinction is the fourth film of the Transformers franchise after 2007, 2009, 2011 movies; once again directed by Michael Bay. This time all the cast has changed and every former character is gone. Exit Shia Laboeuf replaced by Mark Wahlberg, his long blond hair and perfect make up (even if she never have access to make up throughout the film) daughter playing by Nicola Peltz and her boyfriend (Jack Reynor). In this case new cast doesn't mean new film. In fact this new Transformers is built in the same way as the first three movies; i-e at first shows off protagonist who are struggling against something, government interfere, then Optimus Prime comes in and fight, plus more governmental dialogues and finally the last 30/40 minutes of the film are nothing but explosions over and over again. Beside that point the major downfall in Michael Bay's movies is that there are to much idiotic humour, racial stereotypes and government conspiracy dimension (that no one really care about). However, Mark Wahlberg is actually the best part of the film. He's a pretty likable character at last. Plus he does things in the film, as grabbing an alien gun and getting involved in the battle. Unlike Shia Laboeuf who spent the entire first three films running and screaming around with his girlfriend(s). Other actors can't really been taken seriously especially Jack Reynor, his character is highly annoying and he didn't do anything to help the people he's surrounding with. They tried to focus on human characters more than Transformers but the problem is that they're quite boring. As a fan of summer big-budget movies and blockbusters in general I know why I'm walking into a theatre in order to see a Michael Bay movie. I don't care about cheesy dialogue and governmental conspiracy. That's probably why this film lost me somewhere in the middle of the second act. What I care about in Michael Bay' films are his amazing special effects and seeing Transformers rolling around and fighting! What disappoint me the most are the poorly constructed dialogues and that every action scenes look like THE big final battle of all time; Which lead me waiting for something much bigger towards the end of the film.  Finally, Michael Bay never really cared about what critics and mostly everyone said about his films. Why? Simply because at the end I spent a good time, people applauded and it will make a hell lot of money...  

Overall, Transformers: Age of Extinction is visually good with amazing special effects and action sequences but when it comes to directing and filming actual real people it looks not that great. If you like those things you will love this movie! 

Friday, 4 July 2014

How to Train Your Dragon 2

When Hiccup and Toothless discover an ice cave that is home to hundreds of new wild dragons and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the two friends find themselves at the centre of a battle to protect the peace and the people they love.

How to Train your Dragon 2 is the sequel to the oddly named original film; which was a huge surprise both for critics, fans and box-office. At first How to Train Your Dragon's trailer wasn't that good. Plus DreamWorks Studios hasn't made a great movie in a while (since Shrek in my opinion). Against all odds the first movie was actually a really good movie. And How To Train Your Dragon 2 follows in its footsteps. This time the film appears like a very adult animated movie and it goes where the original movie didn't in regards to characters and even the story, which is what a sequel must actually be doing. It's mixing an animated film genre with a very mature cinematography and direction. It's really great as I think this film is considering children as "grown up" people; not waiting for them to sit in a cinema and watch cool stuff happening till the end of a movie. There are lots of things going on under the surface, actually How To Train Your Dragon 2 is dealing with universal concepts such as growing up, maturing, family background, responsibilities, obligations and stepping up from the crowd in order to find our own voice. Moreover, it's good to see how Toothless and Hiccup relationship evolves. The only drawbacks of this movie I think is the villain. I was a bit disappointed by Drago's character. At first sight he is not as evil as I imagined him to be but his evilness is pulled out little by little along the movie. Beyond the fact that the score is awesome (John Powell), all the CGI aspect of the film: from characters to landscapes and dragon's action scenes are boosting the technical credit of the movie. Finally How To Train your Dragon 2 is emotionally deeper than just massively good cinematography visuals. This is a quite classical plot for an epic and drama animated movie but it's what makes the film really efficient at last. 

Overall, this film is exciting and has everything a great movie can wish for: great characters, great plot evolving around very mature and universal concepts, really good action scenes, well defined emotions and DRAGONS!     

Tuesday, 1 July 2014


A scientist's drive for artificial intelligence, takes on dangerous implications when after a terrorist attack his only chance to survive is to upload his consciousness into such a program.

The Director Wally Pfister is well known for his work as Director of Photography on big Christopher Nolan's productions such as Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises or Inception. This movie has so much potential: there are great actors (Hall, Bettany, Murphy, Freeman and Depp), Nolan's favourite cinematographer and an exciting a-i plot. A window is wide open to produce a very good and exciting movie. On an emotional dimension the plot gives to the character a deep humanity while allowing the viewer to question their behaviour. What shocked me the most in this film is how far a wife is ready to go in order to save her husband; and by all means Rebecca Hall's character must save him, including maintaining his life on a virtual aspect. Which focused Transcendence only on this Husband/Wife relationship. Nothing thrilling happens! Moreover, Depp character is not that interesting even before he became an a-i; once he is... still boring. Rebecca Hall is trying her best as well, which is apparently not enough. Freeman and Murphy had nothing to do in this movie, they appeared together in couple of random scenes which add nothing. I feel like Paul Bettany has the best part in this film as his character (Max Waters) goes through the most changes and he delivers a very good performance. Indeed Wally Pfister created beautiful images, he is a really good cinematographer. But he struggled to find a tone and pace for this story; as well as creating proper character on screen. The first twenty minutes of Transcendence are really captivating and I was excited to discover how the story will evolve next but then, the movie slows down and it gets boring. The major and "spectacular" action scene happened in the third act and was 40 seconds long. I was disappointed. Finally, It's like the movie itself intended to be contemplated and after wanted you to think about it which is totally working against the film. Unfortunately, a lot of things after dissection don't really make sense. 

Overall this film had entertaining and really beautiful parts; though I was disappointed by how they managed to cover this exciting plot on a-i.