Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The last Planet of the Apes saw James Franco (Will) and his pally monkey, Cesar, off on mad capers freeing local apes, learning sign language, and taking down evil labs. Well the monkeying around is over!
Will is dead from a virus along with almost all the other humans. The apes were immune, and Cesar is now king of the swingers. He and his simian army have made the local forest their home. The remaining humans are cooped up in some derelict warehouse. And never the twain shall meet….
Except, due to plot necessities, they have to, and then they to try and play nice, and then they have to fight. Lots of whooping and gorilla (ha) warfare follows. The CGI is outstanding and the apes’ wise smiles and ominous frowns are a cinematic sight to behold.
However, the frowns are also a problem. There is far too much scowling and every line of dialogue seems a little too portentous. The main issue is that the apes haven’t learned humour; much more difficult, as it turns out, than man’s red fire. Both groups have a wise leader and a war monger and everyone takes themselves very seriously. Especially Gary Oldman who seems to exactly reprise his brooding Commissioner Gordon role.
Overall it’s a spectacle, but not everybody will leave smiling.
Guardians of the Galaxy
Recent Marvel incarnations seem to have suffered from the same lack of gags as the Planet of the Apes movie reviewed above.
Fortunately, in this comic book adaptation they have given themselves over to a good old space romp.
If the baddies are silly and one-dimensional then the heroes are even sillier. A smart-mouthed orphan from Earth, a world-weary talking badger or raccoon? A smouldering hot green alien woman, a crazed but dense UFC-like wrestler, and a giant tree root who can only say I AM GROOT? (Groot is voiced by Vin Diesel, his most apt and enjoyable role to date.)
There is a fantastic 80s soundtrack, not the over-played kind, and fantastic action set-pieces as the group bound across the galaxy to try and save the federation, or whatever it`s been renamed in this. I have to admit to having a soft spot for space operas, whether it be Star Trek or Star Wars, Solaris or a A Space Odyssey. This is no exception! Great fun is had by all. Sequels will no doubt follow.
This gently moving, sweet-natured Bollywood romance contains none of the singing or dancing you may expect from Bollywood, nor the schmalz you may expect from romance.
An error in the delivery of a tiffin lunchbox to an office worker in Mumbai starts up a correspondence between an unhappy housewife, Nimrat Kaur, and a widowed older man, played by Bollywood legend Irrfan Khan.
Within this context, we get a refreshingly candid and at times humorous view into the lives of India’s lower-middle classes. The interactions with ‘aunty’ upstairs who gives tips on how to cook are both hilarious and touching. Be warned: you can almost smell the mouth-watering food from the screen and you’ll be left clamouring for a curry.
Set against that very Indian backdrop, the portrayal of the estrangement and strains of love and relationships in the modern world nonetheless seem universal.
The film does not avoid all of the usual romance movie tropes, but stirring performances by the leads propel this particular romcom well above the pack. The movie is free of the sentimentality seen in most Bollywood, and indeed Hollywood, movies. The characters are understated, and complex, and you’d need a heart of stone not to be rooting for the couple in the final scenes.
We asked guest reviewer, Manuela Hernandez, aged 11, to tell us about her favourite film.
How to Train Your Dragon 2
This fast-paced action movie is about burly Vikings and wild dragons. The main characters are: Hiccup, teenage boy who has never wanted to kill a dragon and who lost a leg 5 years ago (in How to train your dragon 1), Astrid, Hiccup’s girlfriend, a very brave teenage girl with straight blond hair, Stoick the Vast, the chief of the Viking village called Beck and Hiccup’s father, Gobber the Belch, the chief’s closest friend, Valka, Hiccup’s mother that he hasn’t seen since he was a baby and Stoick’s wife. Like her son, she discovered that dragons aren’t dangerous.
Drago Bluvist, an evil dragon hunter who wants to control the world with an army of dragons. The problem of this movie is that some points are illogical, for example when Valka told her son what happened when he was a baby, she told him that a dragon took her to go to live in the dragons hide. Why didn’t she come back to her village? We don’t know. And it seems that to do Toothless’ face (Hiccup’s gentle dragon and best friend) they took some parts of Stitch’s face from Lilo and Stitch. However, it’s is a fantastic adventure and magical movie for both children and adults. Already in cinemas.
By Duncan Hall