The Hunger Games franchise has lit up the cinematic conversation towards films directed for young people and women as an untapped market for large blockbuster films. Thanks to the surprisingly well done performances from Jennifer Lawrence across the board and some worthy direction by Constantine director and every Hunger Games film except for the first, Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer), this franchise has tapped into the aforementioned market and made the series increasingly watchable for fans of these types of films. And after saying all of that, I should tell you that I have not enjoyed any of the prior Hunger Games films, nor gotten more than half an hour into the prior Mockingjay film. But I will also say that I was in for a surprise as to how much I found interesting in the final instalment. Continue reading
With Dogtooth, Yorgos Lanthimos created a new wave of filmmaking that is still rarely seen from anywhere outside of Greek cinema. After an Oscar nomination for best foreign language film and another acclaimed film in the warped Alps, Lanthimos has crafted another dark comedy in his English language debut, The Lobster. Audiences familiar to his style will expect the deadpan sense of delivery and pitch-black humour from the director, but it is hard to understand and, in some cases, may be seen as impenetrable emotionally, but this strips The Lobster down to its essential message and tone. Anyone that is worried about the jump from Greek to English should be put at ease. Continue reading
Class warfare has become more and more prominent within films, most notably from the perspective of the lower class. Rags-to-riches is one thing, but to literally deconstruct the entire social hierarchy is something that makes for a far more interesting tale. With that in mind, Ben Wheatley’s High-Rise partially manages to ascend beyond the now-typical poor versus rich story by pouring all the elements into a single apartment building, watching the world crumble as its main character stumbles around as little more than an audience surrogate.
“With great power comes great responsibility” is probably the best line to describe everything about Fantastic Four. I could write lengthy articles about the turmoil behind-the-scenes of this directorial follow-up to Josh Trank’s Chronicle, but the film largely speaks for itself. Despite a cast of talented, younger actors, and a franchise with more than enough interesting elements to pull from its 50-plus year history, Fantastic Four is a movie that seems to have amnesia about what it wants to be midway through. Blame it on whatever you want, the film forgets what it is and sacrifices its characters for dumb action moments that disappoint more often than they amaze.
My disdain for Adam Sandler has never reached the heights that it has for many others. I tend to stay away from his films unless there is something that hooks me (The Cobbler was seen because of Thomas McCarthy, and before that, I saw Funny People for Judd Apatow). Besides those slightly more serious roles, every film between those two has been unabashedly awful looking, and pandering to a very low-brow audience. But Pixels is a movie which hooked me with its video game premise (and a pretty good short as source material), and ends up being a film that does some of the most pandering in Sandler’s career. With that caveat in place, Pixels actually ends up being an average film (which is apparently the highest praise anyone on the internet could muster) until it’s final act, where it devolves into the usual “throw shit to the wall and see what sticks” motive.
Oren Peli may not have directed any film outside of Paranormal Activity, but his hand has been present on many horror projects that emulate a similar approach to the genre. While found footage existed prior to the prolific horror franchise, it wasn’t until Paranormal Activity‘s efficient use of the camera that the series and the entire found footage genre catapulted to new heights. It was an effective use of subtlety in a frame that gave a renewed sense of tension and dread. Peli’s return to directing horror has been much-anticipated by horror fans, but his newest project feels like someone who has been watching other found footage films from the sidelines and didn’t want to rejuvenate the genre, but attempt to make slight incremental improvements.
Title: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Genre(s): Action, Drama, Science Fiction
Director(s): Matt Reeves
Release Year: 2014
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a magnificent film. Not because it does anything original; not because it breaks new ground; and not because it reinvents the wheel. It is a magnificent film because it uses revisionist film-making to make a point. It understands that good science fiction has something to say, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has something very poignant to tell the audience. It takes a human story and uses apes to tell it. By doing so, Matt Reeves manages to highlight the simplicity in the story, but also reinvigorate what it means to be a science fiction film.
The movie picks up years after the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes escalated into a world where Caesar (Andy Serkis) is essentially the ruler of the world, or at least in the scope of the film. Humans aren’t even considered to still be alive, and there are rules which the apes live by. They are rules which are reminiscent of Moses and the Ten Commandments, but more limited and devoid of religious association. However, they are the beginning of a civilization. That is where Dawn of the Planet of the Apes excels: it demonstrates the evolution from tribalism to civilization by simply restarting the world.