Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets – Review

This is a film that has been included in the trailers before a fair amount of films I’ve seen this year. I thought the visuals looked decent but nothing about the trailers sold the characters or the plot to me, both seemed really generic.

And those assumptions were correct. This is one of those sci-fi stories where the setting and the aliens are where all the creativity went but instead of focusing on one of said aliens we focus on the most boring humans in the galaxy. The heroes are human, the villain is human and the most important aliens are the ones who look the most human.

nintchdbpict000312552301

Valerian himself has nothing to his character outside of the fact he likes Laureline, whenever he’s not flirting with her he’s just talking about plot stuff or in an action scene. Cara Delevingne gives the better performance of the two leads but as a character Laureline isn’t any better, she’s just another “I’m not interested in you but secretly I am” love interest who occasionally gets the spotlight for some of the action scenes. Oh and their romance really doesn’t work, the film gives us no reason why these two should like each other and their performances don’t help, in fact from the trailers I saw it seemed more like they were supposed to be siblings.

valerian-and-the-city-of-a-thousand-planets-screencaps-17

It’s not a bad film and has some great visuals that make decent trailer footage and will be great for those footage of multiple films from a year videos you get near the end of the year but that’s it really, everything worth watching about the film is in the trailers.

Okja – Review

So with all the Netflix Original films I’ve been watching this year it makes sense to watch the one notable enough that even a few film critics I follow have reviewed it.

This is much better than the other Netflix movies I’ve seen this year. It’s closer in quality to Tallulah and The Fundamentals of Caring from last year. I’ve seen some criticism of the way the film delivers its message concerning the meat industry but I think said message is handled well. I expect the reason people have an issue is that it’s not presented subtly.

bllZgGFfRGCODyTu0TPUG3Rgy39

One of the film’s strengths is the way the language barrier effects characters. There are scenes where dialogue is translated back and forth as well as scenes where we the audience understand what is being said but Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun’s character) doesn’t and is only able to pick up notable words or location names. It’s rare that I see a film with multiple languages where the foreign language is English and I like the fact they brought in the English speaking Jon Ronson is co-write the dialogue for the American characters.

24c334f15e5c16c5fcca54a950cf64a027a23c65fa8b0dab1f265b0ee2d6bc63_3957487

The heart of the film is of course Mija and Okja’s friendship. While there’s a lot of scenes that are painful to watch they only work because you care about these two and want them to go back to their peaceful life at the farm in the mountains. If you have a Netflix account check this movie out some time, while it may not be for everyone it’s still a very well made film.

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie – Review

I never read the books when I was younger but I remember them being popular so I had no prior attachment to this franchise. That said I still wanted to see this film because while it was never going to be one of the better films of the year it still looked like it’d be entertaining.

And it was, it’s a funny movie with neat animation and a talented cast. A lot of the comedy is silly goofiness and toilet humour but there’s a few jokes aimed more at the older viewers too (not adult jokes but jokes only adults are likely to get like a “like-like tends to end with marriage” line).

a9f9572bbd9a163490d1ba071d7c4a68f1da178c

I really like when CG animated movies have a cartoony style. It’s fun seeing the expressive visuals common in 2D animation in a different medium. The film also uses 2D animation for a few scenes when the Captain Underpants comics are animated.

captain-underpants-movie

Is it worth seeing in the cinema if you don’t have something like Odeon Limitless? Probably not but it’s still a fun movie to watch.

War for the Planet of the Apes – Review

And so we come to the end of another movie marathon. Since I saw this one in the cinema I ended up being amused when among the ads that play before the trailers were two of those army jobs ads before a movie that has soldiers as the villains.

This series is going to be my go to argument when I defend reboots now because all three films have been fantastic and are the best films in the entire franchise. This time the focus is entirely on the apes with the humans only appearing when the apes encounter them, this only serves to strengthen the things that made the ape scenes in the previous two films so great.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES

An example of this is the sign language now being the main form of dialogue in the film, this time being subtitled. It even applies to the human ally to the apes who is mute and rarely even signs. I also like how they named her Nova as a nod to the original. As for the human villains much like how Kobo was the best ape antagonist in the franchise Woody Harrelson’s character is the same for the human antagonists, I especially like how we never actually learn his name and only know him as the colonel.

d5b0579f0ac35e114d5bdcaf91a4d0e01

I’ve saved talking about Caesar for this review because these films are his story and seeing them all back to back really shows how much this character has grown of the course of the series. I liked Caesar in the old films but this Caesar is a much better character. Even the way he communicates develops between each film with him barely saying a word in the first film, only speaking when he needs to in the second and now he defaults to speaking even in conversation with other apes who are signing.

P1ZTj8S

And so with the marathon over here’s my ranking of the franchise

War for the Planet of the Apes > Rise of the Planet of the Apes > Dawn of the Planet of the Apes > Planet of the Apes (1968) > Escape from the Planet of the Apes > Conquest of the Planet of the Apes > Planet of the Apes (2001) > Battle for the Planet of the Apes > Beneath the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Review

While this film does have parallels to Battle for the Planet of the Apes it’s not as much of a counterpart of it in the way Rise of the Planet of the Apes is to Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. This is more of an inbetween two major events movie focusing less on the big battles and more on the events that lead to them and the aftermath of the previous film.

With that in mind while it’s not as good as the previous film it’s still one of the stronger films in the franchise. I’m especially impressed that a majority of the ape dialogue is in sign language, they could have very easily done like Battle for the Planet of the Apes and just had all the apes speaking perfect English but instead their default is sign language only speaking when they need to.

koba-dawn-planet-apes

While there are human antagonists the main villain is Kobo, the scarred bonobo from the previous film. While yes his design just screams evil it also justifies his strong hatred for humans as in one scene he points to each scar saying “human”. He is comparable to Aldo in Battle for the Planet of the Apes but without the whole “gorillas are bad” thing. He’s without a doubt the best ape antagonist this series has had.

1200-dotpota

And with that I’m all caught up ready to see the new film. I’ve gone from being interested in seeing an iconic film series to being excited to see what happens next.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Review

In my Conquest of the Planet of the Apes review I said I’d probably have more to talk about it when I had something to compare it to. That something as it turns out is to say that Rise is better than Conquest in every way.

In fact it’s the best film in the franchise so far. The human characters are more complex than they’ve ever been with even James Franco’s sympathetic human character having flaws that contribute to pushing Caesar away. I also think the apes rebelling due to the ways they’re actually treated in modern society is a more powerful message than “if all dogs and cats die out we’ll start treating apes like slaves”.

a48cb18505f941e4382f33e925b1c172

Once again the already impressive effects of the previous movies are surpassed. It’s films like this that are why I’ll never understand people who complain about CGI in movies. The effects in this film are incredible with the apes looking the most realistic they’ve ever been making it even more impressive seeing apes from different parts of the world side by side. It’s not just the CGI though, the motion capture performances live up to the hype.

rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-caesar

Two more films to go and from what I’m aware both have been pretty well received.

Planet of the Apes (2001) – Review

So this film isn’t very popular, most times I’ve heard it get mentioned it’s either to say it sucks or to defend it from the common opinion of not liking it.

Personally, I think it’s a decent remake. It does its own thing with the set up rather than just be the original and that made it more enjoyable to watch than if it was just the original again but with updated effects.

planet-of-the-apes-remake-dinner-guests

And said effects are very impressive. The original films’ makeup was great for its time but the differences between the ape species were pretty minor with the gorillas looking nothing like gorillas. In this film the physical features of each ape species is captured perfectly… for the male apes. The females on the other hand look like humans with ape faces.

planet_of_the_apes_2001_03_stor

The film isn’t without its faults though and the biggest has to be that the human lead is boring and generic, which seems to be a common role for Mark Wahlberg. He’s even part of a weird love triangle between a human and and ape but both pairings not only feel forced but non existent most of the time.

APES-2001-4

Honestly though the appeal of these movies has never been the humans so these problems don’t effect my enjoyment of the film that much. Now it’s time for the main event of this marathon, the reboot series…