Dawn of the Planet of the Apes -Review

29 07 2014

Caesar horse golden gate bridge

I’ll admit it- I haven’t seen any of the original Planet of the Apes movies (sorry, Mr. Heston). I do understand that there really isn’t a central character that stays around through the movies, and that generally each ending is sort of nihilistic. Besides that, I’m told to avoid the Tim Burton mess of an entry. I did manage to catch Rise of the Planet of the Apes in theaters, and I’m happy to say that movie pleasantly surprised me. It wasn’t life-changing, but it was a smart enough movie to get me into the theater one more time to watch a movie about talking apes. And that is my first point- these CGI apes look fantastic. So much computer work can be intrusive, but in this case it was effective. The actor/effects artists nailed facial expressions, and while it’s difficult to tell when the actor’s work ends and the artist’s enhancing begins, Andy Serkis stole the show as Caesar.

andy serkis ape motion

SMEAGOL. NOT. KILL. APE.

During the opening scenes, I was in a bit of a shock with monkeys doing sign language with no humans present, but by the end of the movie it seemed natural. Jason Clarke as Malcom was easily the most effective human character, with the others filling in the blanks, such as his wife Ellie (Keri Russell) who played the supportive spousal role who happens to know medicine. Malcom’s son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is easily more memorable if only for his scenes with Maurice, everyone’s favorite primate.

orangutan

“This is a Marvel book. I specifically asked for Batman, human.”

Dawn excels in the villain category, with excellent examples on both human and ape sides. For the humans we have the hateful Carver, who blinds himself by blaming the apes for a virus that humans created. I still can’t decide if Gary Oldman‘s character Dreyfus was even supposed to be a villain. He came across as a sympathetic leader, especially during the scene where he finally sees his family’s pictures again. However he did end up being an antagonist to Malcom at the very end when he thought Malcom had lost his mind. Ultimately, it’s implied he could have been reasoned with if there had been more time to explain; after all he had already decided against violence earlier when he found out there was a peaceful alternative for the dam. It’s an interesting character only because of Oldman, because honestly he wasn’t given much content. I felt like there must have been some deleted scenes that filled in more blanks about him.

Underused. Should have stayed in Gotham.

Wishing he had stayed in Gotham.

That being said, Koba easily takes top honors for best villain. He’s genuinely sympathetic as a victim who wants to keep his species alive, until he starts murdering anyone who stands in his way. At that point, we see what a monster he’s allowed himself to become, almost indistinguishable from the worst humans who had harmed him in the first place.

Koba

Mr. Cutie wants your guns.

Basically, I appreciate how director Matt Reeves chose to go with a character-driven story when it would have been so easy to go the Michael Bay route with endless action scenes. One example of this is the ending sequence, which was actually cut short. Originally, the last few minutes focused on the apes on the Golden Gate Bridge, staring at a fleet of Navy warships approaching. Instead, we got a emotionally high final scene between the best human and ape characters of the movie (Malcom and Caesar). With deep villains, complex issues and standout visual effects, Reeves managed to pull off a sequel that’s even better than the (new) first movie.

Andy Serkis tracking horse apes

This would have been a very different movie had they just used this footage.

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“10:00 PM- 11:00AM” 24: Live Another Day Finale Review (Season 9, Episode 12)

16 07 2014

Watch out London. (Slow Clap). This season’s finale managed to incorporate every part of what makes 24 one of the most legendary shows out there. The whole hour was filled with tight action scenes, plot twists, emotional whiplash, and major character deaths, resulting in TWO silent clocks. I don’t know about you, gentle reader, but I’m not sure they could have ended with a bigger bang- but they certainly could have ended on a higher note. And that’s the only thing keeping this from a perfect score for me. If there is no renewal for 24 next year, what we got was actually a lousy ending for show hero Jack Bauer. If there is a season 10 (fingers crossed), than the last few minutes would fall into the patented cliffhanger ending 24 seems to enjoy. More on that in a few, but what about the actual events this hour? And will we get another season of 24?

The biggest shocker of course came when Audrey was saved from the sniper, only to be unexpectedly gunned down by a second attacker. That just hit like a ton of bricks, especially considering how it finally looked like Audrey may have a happy ending…geez, just think about all her character has gone through. Big shout-out to Kim Raver’s emotional performance all throughout. Gosh, why do my favorite characters always get the ax?

The positive effect of Audrey’s demise came immediately when Jack heard the news. Yes, he had a great vengeful rampage through the ship, but before that we saw Kiefer Sutherland‘s best acting this season as he portrayed Jack’s spirit crushing in a long, unblinking shot. That moment was meant to be felt, and he delivered the despair. How much more satisfying did that make Cheng’s duel and ultimate head release?! Talk about dumb moves- never kill Jack’s love interest if you’re within 100 miles of him. He’ll find a sword and mess you up.

Mark, President Heller, and Kate may have made it through the day, but gosh were their final situations depressing. They finally made me feel bad for Mark Boudreau after the flash forward, he’s lost his wife (who he loved but controlled), his idol the President (who he thought he was protecting), and his freedom. And President Heller’s breakdown was awful, but even sadder was his final monologue with the Prime Minister. He had already forgotten who Audrey was once, and he knew soon he’d forget, well, everything about her, and during all of this we’re watching her coffin board Air Force One. Dang. I hate to say it, but it would have been so much happier if he had died and she had lived. I hate that tragic ending for both of these strong, classic characters. Man, the feels.

Chloe played a huge part this finale with several great scenes with Jack: her talk with him in the car, getting back into her tech support mode during that awesome ship infiltration sequence, and finally her final moment with Jack during the exchange. You could argue that moment was a sort of redemptive one for Jack, and at the very least it shows how deep their friendship has become.

All in all, I’d say the doubters of this show’s return have been silenced. This season was a return to the best days of the series, with twists and turns, slick action, and genuine emotion. While I hate the fate of some of the characters, that’s what makes 24 work- nobody is safe, and every threat can be felt. Jack may have stopped World War 3, but none of the characters will be the same. Here’s hoping the show’s announced appearance at Comic-Con soon will mean the announcement of Season 10.

Pre-Jack Rage Mode.

Pre-Jack Rage Mode.

Final Thoughts:

1. Could this be the best season of 24 yet? I’m not sure, but the very fact that many people are asking that question is a glowing review either way.

2. If there were another season (12 episodes are fine), who could they bring back? I feel like 95% of the characters are deceased. Maybe the Russian president, or Logan?

3. This whole season really worked well with 12 episodes- it cut the fat and moved the story faster.

4. Please bring Kate back!

5. FOX YOU WILL RENEW THIS SHOW. WE CLEAR?

Final Score:

9.5/10





“9:00 PM-10:00 PM” 24: Live Another Day Review (Season 9, Episode 10, 11)

13 07 2014

24-Live-Another-Day-kiefer-sutherland-jack-wallpaper

I know it’s getting redundant at this point, but I’m really enjoying this show’s return. Though it may just be a final treat for fans, I can safely say that all my initial misgivings about bringing it back have been eliminated faster than a terrorist fighting Jack Bauer. That said, I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon for the last two weeks. The finale is tomorrow, so that means I need to hurriedly put together a summary of episodes 10 and 11 thoughts. 

First of all, is anyone else surprised the Russians and Cheng are working together? I had been expecting Navarro and Adrien Cross to be the final villains, but gosh was I proven wrong. Live Another Day‘s final hours have really been burning through the rogues gallery, no? First Margot gets thrown out the window, next we have a satisfying trick confessional with Navarro, Adrien gets shockingly blown away by Cheng (!), and this last hour Russian Walrus Man got dominated by some glass shards. This leaves us with Cheng, one of the worst dudes Jack has ever faced. Here’s hoping for an epic death, because honestly this guy’s messed up.

This was a strong recovery episode for Chloe, who had been making less than wise choices lately. Way to think on your toes and make a successful escape, Ms. O’Brian. Now please stay alive for one more hour. And take off that ridiculous raccoon eye makeup.

Poor Mark Boudreau (sort of). He’s been so consistently slimy this series that I was surprised when I felt a little bad for him. During his whole confrontation scene with Heller and Bauer, I went from “heck yeah!” to “aw, he really wanted to do the right thing for his idol Heller.” Helping Jack with a crazy mission is a good first step (even if he did manage to get their only source of information killed). Will he make it through the last hour, or will Jack have a second chance with Audrey?

Speaking of Audrey, I’m so glad Kim Raver was able to return to the series. Of course the Cheng storyline gives her extra material, but this whole mini-season she’s balanced a lot of emotions quite nicely. I would be more than a little depressed if she doesn’t make it through.

 

24 Russian Sutherland

(Pew! Pew!)

Extra Time:

1. They need to explain why the Chinese sniper was waiting for Audrey and her contact. Was she followed, and if so, why was Cheng so interested in her? How did they know where she would be?

2. They’ve officially covered every type of 24 villain in just 12 hours- terrorist, mole, Russian, Chinese, misguided idealist. If they make a follow-up season, they’re going to have to think outside the box.

3. I actually felt bad for ol’ Adrien in his final moments, seeing his entire team destroyed and his plan to disarm the world backfire. He also gained points for letting Chloe know the truth about her family. Even if it was late, he didn’t have to tell her. Maybe he did care about her somewhat?

4. Again, if this is indeed the last we see of 24, PLEASE give some closure here. Maybe even give Jack a love interest who won’t get killed off in the last 5 minutes…

 

Final Score:

9/10