We’ve seen a few movies in rapid succession over the past couple of weeks, so here’s a quick run-down!
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
My husband and I saw this after trying to see a different film the night of our anniversary. It was a spur of the moment decision because there wasn’t a lot else on that we wanted to see, and I have to admit, I bought tickets with reluctance. I don’t really enjoy movies that feature animals acting like humans, and I didn’t see the Mark Wahlberg or the James Franco films from the last decade. But, like I said, it was our anniversary, our daughter was spending the night at her grandparents so we had to take advantage of not having to rush home to relieve a baby-sitter. I was SO tired that night, though. Like, unbelievably, horribly exhausted. The movie started and I kind of just tried to focus and stay awake.
Turns out it wasn’t a terrible film. Not the best film I’ve ever seen, but it had enough of a plot line to keep me awake. It’s ten years after the ALZ-114 virus that caused the collapse of human civilisation. The people who survived are living in the destroyed city of San Fransico, and need to gain access to a hydroelectric dam to create an alternate source of power when their generators and fuel run out. In exploring the forest where the dam is located, Carver, one of the humans, shoots and kills an ape. Caesar, the leader of the apes, goes into the city to convey a message to the humans. The apes don’t want a war, but they will fight the humans to defend their home if they have to. They tell the humans to stay in the city and the apes will stay in the forest. Another human, Malcolm, reconciles with the apes and a small group of them are allowed to work in the dam to see if they can get it working again. The apes assist the humans in the dam, but Koba, an ape who was tortured by humans, doesn’t agree with letting humans into their territory. Koba manages to steal a gun and shoots Caesar, blaming it on the humans, who were supposed to have surrendered their guns before working on the dam. Koba convinces the apes to go to the city to fight with the humans and chaos ensues.
The storyline is nothing new: minority group fights to retain ownership of their home, not realising there’s a member of their group with their own agenda. But despite my dislike of animals acting like humans, the apes were incredibly compelling to watch. The CGI of their faces is amazing, particularly their eyes. So much emotion is conveyed without words, and I think that’s eventually what drew me in to the film and forget how tired I was. It’s a decent film, but not necessarily one that I would watch again. I think my husband might have felt the same way – I looked over at him at one point and he was alseep!
I haven’t seen the stage show, so I can’t talk about how the film compares, but I grew up listening to Frankie Valli’s music, as did most kids whose parents grew up in the fifties and sixties did, so I definitely wanted to see the film adaptation when I heard about it. We had some Gold Class tickets to use, and Jersey Boys had a few sessions, so we saw last weekend.
Sidenote: I know some people think Gold Class is overrated and overpriced, which it is. I mean, La Premiere at Hoyts at least gives you free popcorn and drinks. But there’s something about having a reclining chair in a movie theatre that sells me every time. Maybe it makes my brain think I have my own personal movie theatre in my home or something. I don’t know. I just know that I really enjoy it!
Jersey Boys is about the rise of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, an American pop band from New Jersey. Character and band member Tommy DeVito narrates the film initially, explaining how he brought a barber’s son, Frankie, into the fold of his music group. They have limited success as The Four Lovers, and at the recommendation of friend Joe Pesci (yep, THAT Joe Pesci), they meet a talented singer/songwriter named Bob Gaudio. With Gaudio as part of the band, they record some demos, but struggle to get noticed. It isn’t until Gaudio pens Sherry that The Four Seasons find their sound and their success. The band begins touring, becoming even more successful with hits Big Girls Don’t Cry and Walk Like A Man. The constant shows and travel begin to wear on the group and with Tommy De Vito in charge, the money runs out as he runs up hundreds of thousands of dollars debt without telling anyone. Eventually things come to a head and Tommy is fired from the group, sent to Las Vegas to work for the mob until the debt is paid off. Frankie agrees to tour until the debt has been repaid, and he and Gaudio become the only original members of the band still performing, as Gaudio writes songs for Frankie to perform with a studio band.
I went into this film with high expectations. I knew I would love the music, that was a given. But I knew Clint Eastwood was the director and I find his films to be hit and miss. Overall, this was a good film, the music was as fantastic as I’d hoped. However, I found the plotline to be somewhat uneven. A lot of attention was given to the characters’ early days in New Jersey when the band formed, which is fine. But I think this was done at the detriment to the later years when things started to fall apart. I felt like there were several key moments in the band’s history and in Frankie’s personal life that seemed like they came out of no where, and were then rushed through just to get to the next musical milestone, which was disappointing. Obviously a film about a popular music group is going to feature the music that made them famous, as it should. But when things in the artists’ lives are affecting the work and it’s shoehorned in as filler material I think it’s a shame. I definitely think the script could have flowed a bit better in the second half of the film. However, it’s still worth watching, particularly if you’re a music fan. The acting is great and the singing is superb.
I had heard a little bit about this film online – apparently it should have been the big blockbuster film of the US Summer. Instead, it’s achieving quiet success through word of mouth. It’s a South Korean sci-fi action film starring Chris Evans, Jamie Bell, Octavia Spencer, Song Kang-ho, and Go Ah-sung, and is an adaptation of the French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob.
It’s 2031, years after an experiment to stop global warming kills nearly everyone and every living thing on earth. The survivors are inhabitants on Snowpiercer, a train that is powered by a perpetual motion engine. It’s named Snowpiercer because earth is now a frozen wasteland, too cold to inhabit. As with any society, there are class levels, and Evans, Bell, and Spencer, along with hundreds of others, are inhabitants of the tail end slums, surviving on manufactured protein bars supplied by guards. Children are being taken away for unknown reasons, the living conditions are horrific, and Evan’s character Curtis plans a rebellion to get to the front of the train and take over. They need the help of Minsu (Kang-ho), a drug addicted man who designed the doors to each carriage of the train, which they receive after paying him in Kronole, his and his daughter’s drug of choice. As the group fights their way forward on the train, each carriage presents a new threat, and casualties occur. However, Curtis and his team forge ahead, getting closer and closer to the front of the train.
I don’t want to give anything else away, because Snowpiercer is a truly excellent film. Yes, it’s yet another futuristic film about a small group of survivors on earth, but it’s one of the most gripping, intense films I’ve seen for a while. Evans is fantastic as the film’s protagonist, and I’m really pleased to see him choosing a role like this instead of choosing blockbuster after blockbuster role. The other thing that had me enthralled was how beautifully the film was shot. Some of the fight scenes are so elegantly done that I almost forgot I was watching an action film. The only downside is that the only place in Melbourne you can see this is at Cinema Nova on Lygon St. That’s how limited the release is. The first time we tried to see the film it was sold out, so you definitely need to book ahead. You’ll come out of this film exhausted from the intensity of it, but trust me, it’s so worth it. I’m already calling it: this is one of the best films of 2014, hands down.
See anything good lately?
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