Planet of the Apes (1968)

Planet of the Apes Movie Review…………………………………………………….

Planet of the Apes Movie Review

Planet of the Apes is a 1968 science fiction film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner and starring Charlton Heston. It is one of the best blockbusters of all time.

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Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!

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Planet of the Apes Movie Review…………………………………………………….
I absolutely love this franchise and even though I like the current trilogy of films a bit more, I still absolutely love and admire this original film as it truly is a classic. It remains a true sci-fi classic and it came in the year of ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ which goes to show that 1968 was probably the best and most influential year for this particular genre.
The story is simply phenomenal. I guess it can be a bit too preachy at times as was the norm for 50s and 60s SF movies, but it is mostly clever with its religious metaphors and the commentary on society. I really liked those courtroom drama sequences as they were very entertaining and sophisticated.

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Planet of the Apes Movie Review…………………………………………………….
Of course I have to talk about the ending. I loved the entire interrogations, scientific conversations as well as that very intriguing first act, but the finale remains the best and most memorable scene of the film. When he realizes that this has been Earth all along and that humans had gone extinct and been replaced by apes, the line “You maniacs” becomes truly impactful and tragic which is why it is even better than that famous “stinking paws” line (the entire movie is so damn quotable). That ending features one of the smartest and finest twists ever in a film and it remains one of the best and most unforgettable ending scenes of all time.
Let’s talk about the characters. The black guy of course died first which was beyond frustrating, but Dodge was a total bore regardless. Landon was better and his and Taylor’s arguments were quite solid. Of course Taylor is a memorable protagonist and I mostly really liked him. Nova was frustrating as this typical sex object and nothing more than that. Of the apes, Zira is naturally so likable as is Cornelius, but the standout is Dr. Zaius whose calculated mannerisms make him a perfect villain for this story.

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Planet of the Apes Movie Review…………………………………………………….
Planet of the Apes is very well directed and the performances are quite good, especially that of Charlton Heston who here gave one of his best performances in one of his most memorable roles.
As for the costumes, those apes are obviously people in costumes and they aren’t great. It doesn’t help that the brilliantly looking ‘2001’ came in this same year, but I thought some of the voices weren’t the best and I didn’t like some of their movements, mostly the kissing. However, this is a sixties film and they look nice for its time. I still liked their designs and I liked that the film made use of not just chimps, but also gorillas and orangutans. I liked that hierarchy.
But even though it makes sense for the production expenses, I still found big problems with this ape society. They obviously reached the equivalent of human 19th century owing to carriages and uniforms, but why then would they live in such terrible looking, ancient buildings? That made no sense whatsoever.

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Planet of the Apes Movie Review…………………………………………………….
But the film is still technically strong, though a bit campy at times. I’ve only had problems with costumes, society and sometimes on the nose themes, but the film is otherwise terrific and not only is it so well edited and paced, but always riveting to watch as it just flies by. I like that it is a blockbuster of its time nonetheless owing to its high level of action as those scenes were so well executed and exciting. The cinematography is beautiful and these real locations were fitting and chosen superbly. And of course the score is just marvelous. Very evocative in tone and simply unforgettable. It truly is a superb film which is highly rewatchable as I loved it the second time just as much as I did the first.
Planet of the Apes is such a marvelous movie. The themes aren’t subtly incorporated, but they are still clever. The story is riveting, sophisticated and filled with many great scenes such as that awesome twist ending which is one of the best in film history. The characters are memorable, the action is exciting, the cinematography is beautiful and the score is so memorable. Along with ‘2001’, it came in 1968 which is probably the best year for sci-fi ever and it definitely remains one of the best blockbusters of all time.

My Rating – 4.5

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The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)

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The Man Who Fell to Earth Review

The Man Who Fell to Earth is a 1976 science fiction drama film directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring David Bowie. It is an intriguing, but very uneven sci-fi movie.

It is about an alien who crash lands on Earth seeking a way to send water to his desert planet to help his family. But he gets involved with a woman and starts to lead a hedonistic life on Earth. I did like the story here. The plot itself is very good and thematically rich to some degree, but the execution is problematic. I liked the ending which is pretty unconventional, I also liked the opening very much and I really enjoyed the incorporation of both drama and science fiction elements. Those elements do work and are interesting, but this is mostly a drama and the one that is quite interesting to follow.

The characters are solid, but could have been better. Newton is really good and his alienation is so well established and definitely felt. Mary-Lou is also pretty good and I liked their relationship a lot as it has its warmer and later more bitter moments. It worked and the filmmakers dealt with it in a pretty good way. But the rest of the characters are pretty boring to be honest.

The acting is very good. David Bowie is excellent and although this was basically him being himself due to his problems at the time, it is still a performance and it benefits the picture a lot. He is quite good and this is his best performance, even better than his memorable role in ‘Labyrinth‘. Candy Clark is also pretty good and the two are great in their scenes together.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is very uneven. It is well directed by Nicolas Roeg and well acted, but it is very weirdly paced with some very slow scenes. The movie is certainly slow and moves at a sluggish pace. However, that was a good choice at times as I liked its laid-back approach with some scenes that felt more real in the process. The film is grounded in reality, but still not as detailed as I would have liked it. The dialogue is also pretty good, but it also should have been more sophisticated given the film’s nature.

It is unpredictable and very engaging at times and although the movie is slow, I still never found it boring. It is somewhat clever and the tone is well established as it has both dramatic as well as romantic moments. I liked the alien design and I loved the imagery in this movie. It is definitely too psychedelic, but the scenery on the desert planet in particular is very memorable and those sequences are present throughout the whole movie at just the right moments. It is well shot and made with the score being unexpectedly good and helping the film a lot as it contributes to its weird and even creepy feel. I wish that the whole film was more like that, but it focuses too much on drama instead of science fiction. The effects are excellent and the film is pretty imaginative and even original in some areas. I really disliked its tendency to go into drug and sexual territory, but that is unfortunately expected given the time period in which it was released. But I still found that annoying.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is very uneven, too sexual and at times slow, but it is still very original and imaginative with some intriguing imagery, a good performance from David Bowie, some very memorable scenes and a good, well crafted story.

My Rating – 4

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Mr. Peabody and Sherman (2014)

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Mr. Peabody and Sherman Review

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is a 2014 animated science fiction comedy film from DreamWorks Animation. It is directed by Rob Minkoff and it stars Ty Burrell and Ariel Winter. It is, in spite of its flaws, a very entertaining and enjoyable movie.

Mr. Peabody is a dog who has an adopted human son. Together they travel with their time machine through different time periods and he teaches him lessons along the way. I liked the story and the property. The first act or so is a bit rushed, but introduces you to all of the characters well. The third act is very sweet and satisfying whereas the second act is adventurous and filled with different time periods wonderfully explored.

The French Revolution is really well done. What they did with Marie Antoinette is funny and all of it is visually pleasing. Ancient Egypt isn’t as explored as I’d have liked it to have been, but it does have its moments. Now, Renaissance Florence is definitely the finest period here as it is visually breathtaking and so imaginative. Leonard Da Vinci is funny, especially with his toy child, and the flying scenes in particular are beautiful to behold. I wish they were longer though. The Trojan War isn’t as good, but it has some of the funniest lines with King Agamemnon being hilarious.

The New York scenes are also entertaining and dramatic. I liked all those family problems with the adoption and Peabody’s capability as a parent all being delved into a lot. It is definitely a comment on gay marriage and, although I would have liked them to actually go into that territory for once, I still liked this approach as it is an evident parallel to that and it works as both protagonists are well developed.

Mr. Peabody is excellent and I really liked his nerdy behavior and way of speech. But he is also cool and very capable during the action sequences which is a nice change in pace. Sherman isn’t as good and is flat at times, but the relationship between the two is superb and so heartwarming at times. Penny is so mean at first, but she proves herself later on and becomes a much more likable companion and a suitable friend/love interest for Sherman. Paul and Petty are funny as her parents and the scenes where Peabody impresses them are quite funny. Ms. Grubion is typical, but both Da Vinci and Agamemnon are really good and very funny.

Ty Burrell did a really nice job as Peabody. His voice is always recognizable, but he still gave a very good performance. Ariel Winter is also pretty good and it interesting how the casting directors went with both of them having in mind both are from Modern Family. Stanley Tucci did a really nice job, but of course Patrick Warburton is excellent and he is always welcome as a comic relief as he always delivers.

The animation is very pleasing and enjoyable. It is colorful, but not garish and distracting. The character design is excellent and wonderfully simplistic against the backdrop of the backgrounds which are quite detailed. I loved Florence in particular as it is so beautiful to look at and the houses are particularly good. But the water, sky and everything else is very nice to look at and the colors are great. This isn’t one of the most inspired animations, but it is one of the better looking films from DreamWorks Animation and is always wonderful to watch.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is weakly directed, but well acted. It is so badly paced as it is mostly too rushed and fast paced with too much action and at times even abrupt nature. I am talking about the time travel aspect which is so poorly realized. It is so rushed and convoluted that not even adults could understand it, let alone children. It had so much potential, but everything regarding time travel is very lightly explored here and just rushed upon. We never learn the details of it as they never explain them to us. And the third act in particular is incredibly problematic and just so abrupt and underdeveloped.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman is very entertaining and mostly engaging, but sometimes the action is overwhelming and even tiring at certain moments. It has its heart, but could have been more emotional. It is clever, but not as smart as it should have been regarding its subject matter. The humor is great, I really enjoyed it. It wonderfully makes fun of all these famous historical figures and although the humor is too modern and childish, I was still entertained by it as some lines did make me laugh a lot. Some of the humor is forced, but most is pretty good.

The score isn’t particularly memorable, but is still quite solid. The film is visually great as it has some memorable imagery. The tone shifts from adult to childish in a jarring way, but I still enjoyed how this film is made for those who love history as it does have a geek feel to it. And the dialogue is mostly good, if not that sophisticated. This is a good film in my opinion and is even slightly underrated to be honest. It isn’t one of DreamWorks’ best films, but is certainly one of the better ones as it is their last good original effort for ‘Home‘ was so disappointing a year later. 2014 is the year when DreamWorks Animation released three movies which is a lot and this one falls in the middle – it is naturally inferior to ‘How To Train Your Dragon 2‘, but is so much better than ‘Penguins of Madagascar‘ of course.

Mr. Peabody and Sherman has its flaws including a rushed and too fast paced nature, a convoluted storyline and it should have been smarter, but this is still a very fun film that benefits from a pretty good humor, enjoyable characters, beautiful animation and an engaging time travel plot filled with a couple of wonderfully explored time periods.

My Rating – 4

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Galaxy Quest (1999)

Galaxy Quest

Galaxy Quest Review

Galaxy Quest is a 1999 science fiction comedy film directed by Dean Parisot and starring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman and Sam Rockwell. It is one of the most original comedies I’ve seen.

The film stars the cast of a popular science fiction television show. A leader of an alien race arrives and asks for help from the cast, believing their adventures were real. That is the plot of Galaxy Quest and it’s a pretty unique one. It is such an original concept that intrigued me from the moment the film started. Those first scenes were fantastic and I loved them. The whole first act is so inventive and authentic while also hooking you into the story wonderfully and making you laugh many times.

I am talking about the first act being good in particular because unfortunately the movie never again achieves that level of entertainment and sophistication later on with the second and especially third act being disappointing. The film succumbs into the usual action-oriented territory which is satisfying to a lot of people, but never to me. I expected more story and especially more characterization as it really needed those.

However, the characters are still quite good for this kind of film. Jason is a typical protagonist and although I usually disliked these arrogant heroes, I still liked him for the most part as he was genuinely funny at times. Gwen is very disappointing as she is so underused and not that strong of a female character. She has her moments, but is still not great. Alexander Dane is excellent because his personality wonderfully counteracts the other members of the team. His cold and cynical view softens near the end, but his relationship with Jason and his snarky remarks are priceless. Fred is also solid and Guy is really good and has a couple of great moments. Laredo is underused, but Mathesar is quite good and Sarris is a fun villain.

The acting is great. Sigourney Weaver is really good in her role which is all the more frustrating that she is so underused here. Enrico Colantoni is also good while Sam Rockwell is phenomenal and so funny at times. He is such a good actor and always delivers. It’s such a shame that he’d never got a career he deserved. Alan Rickman is great as well. He is an excellent choice from the casting director as he fits this role perfectly. But he not only manages to sell his funny jokes and cold nature, but he is also great in the more emotional scenes which is great. Tim Allen is the highlight here and gave a stupendous performance with a lot of humor and evident charisma.

Galaxy Quest is visually great with some excellent special effects, terrific for its time. It isn’t particularly well paced, but is well acted and solidly directed. The score is also solid, but not that memorable. And the originality is definitely evident here from the very first moment as the premise is fabulous and the movie is thematically rich as it wonderfully makes fun of Star Trek and its fans in particular. And although it can be too specific, it can still be enjoyed by everyone and not just by the fans of that show.

The humor is very good. I laughed a lot at certain moments as they were so clever and very well delivered. The acting in particular helps the humor a lot as it is superb and some lines are so good. However, the movie loses its steam as it progresses and the humor isn’t as good in the second half. Yes, the film uses too much action in the second half and that ruined it for me. The story, characters and humor unfortunately take a backseat to action and special effects spectacle and that is the biggest problem this movie sadly never managed to overcome. But it has a solid dialogue and is very entertaining to watch with its heart also being in the right place. It is one of the best and most original comedies of the nineties without a doubt.

Galaxy Quest is one of the best and most original comedies of the nineties thanks to such an authentic premise, quite a good humor, great visuals and superb performances from its entire cast. It does lose its steam eventually as the plot and character development take a backseat to the action, but it is still a fun and funny experience and it’s a very unique and clever science fiction comedy.

My Rating – 4

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Alphaville (1965)

Alphaville

Alphaville Movie Review

Alphaville is a 1965 science fiction noir film directed by Jean-Luc Godard and starring Eddie Constantine and Anna Karina. It is an interesting, but still very flawed movie.

I had so many problems with this movie. This is one of the examples where everything seems great and I should be loving it, but I still end up annoyed by it and finding it overrated. The story itself is definitely good and has its moments, but is executed rather poorly. It is clever, but then again too Orwellian and nothing new. And at times I found it to be pretty pretentious.

The characters are also problematic. Lemmy Caution is a clichéd and rather boring protagonist and others are all serving the plot device instead of being well fleshed out, except Natacha von Braun who is the finest character here.

The acting is good. Anna Karina did a really nice job and delivered her more emotional scenes quite well. And Eddie Constantine is also very good. All of the actors admittedly did a good job. The directing is also pretty good, but I have to say that I am not a fan of Jean-Luc Godard as this as well as ‘Breathless‘ I both did not particularly like. His filmmaking style is annoying to me and very pretentious. And always slight in substance, but great in style.

Yes, Alphaville is a technically polished movie and is worth seeing mostly for its technical prowess and great visuals. The imagery is fine and the film is well shot. The score, while repetitive, is still very atmospheric and memorable. It enhances the dark mood of the film wonderfully. And emotional intensity is present mostly in the ending whereas in the previous scenes, the film is overly cold and emotionless. That is the point, I know, but they should have made me care for the characters which they did not.

The dialogue is mostly good, but should have been better. And I really disliked the use of that distorted voice, that was so annoying. The movie has a good atmosphere and is dark and mature, but is also very slow and boring and always so pretentious. The pacing is very slow and the tone is too dramatic with the science fiction elements being rather underused and the romance only being used near the end. And the plot, no matter how important, is still typical and I’ve seen it countless times before. In the end, Alphaville is a deeply flawed, incredibly disappointing movie and Godard is definitely not my cup of tea. It isn’t bad, but isn’t that good either and is certainly not great. This is the type of movie that I should definitely rewatch, but for now it gets just a passing grade.

Alphaville is interesting and at times intriguing and it certainly has a good atmosphere, but it is too slow, too annoying and pretentious with a good premise fairly underused. It is such a disappointing and flawed movie that is poorly realized and boring to watch. This is certainly a style over substance.

My Rating – 3

 

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is a 2015 fantasy science fiction film directed by J. J. Abrams and starring Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Harrison Ford. It is quite a good, but very flawed movie.

The story itself is problematic because it is obviously incredibly derivative and quite unoriginal in many respects. This film wants so hard to be an homage to the original movies, but in the process ends up being a rip-off instead. There are many plot points here that are directly taken from ‘A New Hope‘, from the protagonist’s journey that is literally the same to that of Luke Skywalker’s to the family drama to some sequences that directly copy the original with the most obvious one being the confrontation between Han Solo and Kylo Ren.

However, the plot still has its strengths and there are many good things to be had here. First of all, it is admittedly very entertaining and an engaging, even charming experience. The second half had so many problems, but the first is really good with many superb moments. I liked the beginning, the character interactions and the ending, although disappointing to the rest, still has some cool action scenes and is well wrapped up and a great start for this new trilogy. And the final scene is well realized and quite intriguing, making you excited for the next chapter.

The character development is mostly quite good here and even stupendous for some characters. Rey is such a strong female character that is sympathetic and you root for her, but she still possesses those same annoying qualities that almost every protagonist has in these big blockbusters –  she is overly strong, she does not make any mistake, she becomes very powerful near the end, her backstory is typical and she is just not such a well written character compared to the rest here. Yes, she is strong, but still unrealistically so and sometimes the approach with her character was aggressively feminist and that frustrated me.

But Finn is absolutely great and one of the best characters here. He is very likable, realistic and has such a great sense of humor and is very funny at times. He is a great new character who was unfortunately quite underused in the end product. I was never a fan of Han Solo, but I liked how they dealt with his character here and he has some really good moments. Leia is also very well handled and the two share a couple of truly great moments. Now, Kylo Ren I thought is a rip-off of Darth Vader at first, but I realized later on that that was the point and that he wants to be the next Vader which means that this development is quite intriguing. His character was so menacing in the first half and had such a great presence, but once he removed his mask, he lost some of that momentum and the family drama with him is a bit annoying, but more on that later. Poe Dameron is not as present, but is a pretty good inclusion and the relationship between him and Finn is really well established. That is one of the best things about The Force Awakens – every character interaction and every relationship is very well handled and the actors share a great chemistry together.

Maz Kanata is an intriguing character and Snoke is okay, but I disliked the use of robots. Yes, BB-8 is cute, but aggressively so and I always felt that these robots in the Star Wars movies are just a ploy to sell toys and are just there to appeal to women and especially children. The story never has as much need for them as it should and they are just there for the cutesy factor. The same goes for Chewbacca whose appeal I never understood whatsoever. These characters were always too childish too begin with and I myself am not a fan of them.

The acting is quite good and, as I said before, the chemistry is noticeable. Adam Driver is fine, but Daisy Ridley and John Boyega steal the show and they are so great together. Harrison Ford did a good job in one of his most iconic roles, but Carrie Fisher wasn’t as good. And Oscar Isaac did such a good job and this was his most likable role yet.

I did like the action sequences in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The flight scenes did annoy me as they were overlong, but the lighsaber fights were so well utilized. The force elements were contrived, but still had momentum as some scenes were quite memorable. The score is quite good and sometimes very moving. The film is also visually terrific with such good special effects and great imagery. The cinematography is superb, but the scenery is so memorable and I liked the aerial as well as the sand and snow scenes. The film is quite visually appealing. The film also has a solid running time and the pacing is mostly really good as most of the scenes are not rushed and the film movies at a brisk, but engaging pace. It is predictable at times, but still has its surprising moments. Also, the film is emotional and although too much family drama is in there, the emotion is still mostly realistic and never too emphasized or maudlin. But I did find the family drama annoying as it was only a proof of how Star Wars is shrinking instead of expanding the universe. And on that note, I expected more of an epic feel to it, but it never explored other planets and just stayed on a couple of locations.

However, the world building is still quite good as I liked the use of those locations quite a bit and all were memorable and well utilized. The dialogue is also solid and the humor is very good with a couple of really funny lines. This is the probably the most light-hearted and humorous entry yet and that is not a bad thing as it worked in its favor and lead to a more charming and likable movie. The tone is well handled overall, but the directing is weak from Abrams as he never introduces anything particularly new or unique here. The film relies too much on the established SW formula which is a choice done for better and for worse as it will satisfy fans, but others will find its derivative nature too problematic. But I liked the newly introduced characters overall and the film tied everything up with the previous installments rather well. This is better than the prequels, but I would say that all three of the original movies are better overall.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens transcends its derivative nature, an overly childish approach and some annoying characters with mostly likable characters, a charming feel to it, great relationships and interactions between the characters, excellent visuals and some excellent and quite memorable scenes. It is a very flawed movie, but as blockbusters go, it is pretty good and even stupendous in some respects.

My Rating – 4

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Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015)

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials Review

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is a 2015 science fiction action film directed by Wes Ball and starring Dylan O’Brien. It is the second installment in this franchise and it is infinitely inferior to the first one.

The plot follows Thomas and his friends who must face the powerful organization behind everything. They go to the Scorch which is a dangerous desert filled with many obstacles. This story is my major issue here. It is just so incredibly bland. Whereas the first flick was exciting and even interesting to follow, this one is never like that as it is mostly boring and tired. The story itself is so unoriginal, being a mix of many other ideas taken from other franchises. And it is always lifeless and never particularly engaging.

But the very worst approach here have to be the zombies. Wow, how unoriginal and just plain stupid and uninspired this is. I was never a fan of these ridiculous creatures and I am certainly not a fan of them here as they are used rather poorly and are not explained whatsoever. The whole first act was a bit more interesting, but is still too vague and also too familiar. And the third act has its moments, but is mostly mediocre as is the whole picture.

The character development is simply awful. Thomas is a somewhat interesting character and is definitely likable, but still lacks the distinct personality. And his friends are all pretty forgettable once again. As for the new characters, Brenda gets at least some development, but is still not memorable and not particularly likable. The same goes for Jorge and Jansen who are both boring. And what they did with Teresa was pretty stupid in my opinion.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials is solidly acted. Some performances are weak, but most are at least okay and Dylan O’Brien is good as a lead and is definitely the highlight, particularly in action as he steals every scene he is in. Speaking of action, it is the singular reason to see this blockbuster as it is admittedly pretty entertaining and very well executed. Some scenes are exciting and all of the action scenes here are very well shot and from great camera angles.

The film is definitely overlong as the pacing is so poor with the first half being just one overlong action set piece and the rest of the film being slow with some action, but mostly filled with slow moments and dialogue. But that dialogue is weak and the emotion they try to put here is never real and I never root for any of the characters as they are so weakly developed. The score is nothing special, but the sound effects are good and the visual effects are pretty good.

This second installment is an immense disappointment and so much worse than the original. The Maze Runner had great action as well, but it also had at least some character development and the whole story was really well done and filled with many entertaining moments, mysterious and dramatic. But here nothing like that is ever felt, instead you get the overly present boredom and plain unoriginality.

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials has solid action well executed, but everything else is pretty mediocre with a bland storyline, awful character development and a very stupid approach with overlong running time and some ridiculous choices leading to an infinitely inferior sequel to the solid original.

My Rating – 2.5

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THX 1138 (1971)

THX 1138

THX 1138 Review

THX 1138 is a science fiction film directed by George Lucas and starring Robert Duvall. It is a visually great film with a great premise, but is executed rather poorly.

It is set in a dystopian future where humans are controlled by android police officers and the use of drugs that suppress emotion and sexual desire is mandatory as sexual intercourse is prohibited. First of all, this premise is really fantastic and so visionary and such a great take on futuristic science fiction. It is a smart and cautionary viewing of the future. However, that premise is executed in a very weak manner which is so frustrating as it could have been a masterpiece. But, the pacing is so slow and the plot is very weak and problematic and never using its premise to the fullest extent.

The characters are also quite weak. THX 1138 is a solid protagonist for whom you root for. But he is still a flawed and quite weakly developed character. LUH 3417 is more of the same, but she is more likable than the protagonist. But the rest are just so forgettable and not even worth talking about. I get that in this kind of sci-fi film, character development isn’t mandatory, but at least some characterization should be required.

The acting is good. Robert Duvall is really good in his role and Maggie McOmie is also surprisingly good and the relationship between their two characters is the highlight. The directing is also okay, but not that great. And the pacing is too slow and never particularly engaging.

THX 1138 is visually a splendid feature and that is its biggest strength along with its premise. The imagery is so memorable and wonderfully realized and it is realistic and relevant in its approach and vision of the future. It is also serious and dark, but still too boring to be enjoyed more. The originality factor is definitely present as it is one of the more authentic sci-fi flicks of the decade and it is even ahead of its time in some areas. I liked the attention to detail and its world-building, but in recreating this sterile and cold world, the movie unfortunately becomes like that itself with no emotion or warmth anywhere to be found. I wished for more emotional connection and character work. And the movie, although smart, is never as clever as it should have been and its themes are never fully realized and the message is never stated. The emphasis on sex is also typical for its decade and it should have gone more into love and real relationship and emotion than just sex. And I also disliked its tendency to go into blockbuster territory in the final act, but I did enjoy its ending as it is so well realized. This is a solid debut for George Lucas and it is a unique and interesting experience, but it is such a lost potential as it could have been infinitely better due to its fascinating subject matter.

THX 1138 has a fascinating subject matter and premise with some unique visuals, but it is unfortunately executed poorly with weak plot, slow pacing and very weak character development. It is definitely original and interesting, but it is never as smart as it should have been and it is also too boring and way too cold to be enjoyed more.

My Rating – 3.5

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is a 2015 science fiction war film directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Julian Moore and Donald Sutherland. It is the fourth and final installment of the Hunger Games franchise.

The plot once again follows the book very closely and that is a choice done for better and for worse as the third book is my least favorite in the series. It literally copies the book mainly in some dialogue which is taken line by line and also with some dramatic scenes which were just as I imagined them to be. I love that this franchise was so faithful to the source material and the movie is emotional and a satisfying, epic conclusion to this wonderful series, but I still had many problems with its execution and that is of course the unfortunate choice to split the final book into two movies which still remains a big issue. The previous movie was very slow-paced and so uneventful and the first act in Mockingjay – Part 2 definitely continues that trend, but somewhat quickens the pace as it progresses. This most certainly is the better of the two movies, but I still would have preferred to see just one longer movie instead of two and it would have turned out much better that way.

However, what I liked about this installment is that, despite their leaving every action set piece for the finale, it still isn’t too fast paced and too action-oriented due to prolonged running time and an emphasis on political discussions. That I appreciated a lot as it is one of the big reasons why I’ve always enjoyed the franchise – it is a blockbuster, but still one with dramatic and political sensibilities. And although the dialogue wasn’t as good as in some previous entries and the character moments and especially the more intimate conversations were definitely lacking and not particularly sophisticated, the political discussions are everything but as those were so phenomenal, both smart and dramatically intense. I particularly liked Plutarch’s letter to Katniss as it so truthfully tells us that humans are destructive beings and that peace will arrive after a giant war, but not for a long time as wars will always be present as it is in man’s nature. That was so relevant and so honest and a perfect example of the series’ parallels to real life.

But I still found the conclusion to be optimistic as it did end on a melancholy, but optimistic note. Yes, there were too many endings here, but all were satisfying, at least to me. Katniss’ emotional burst near the end was so impactful, the assassination was just fantastic as I expected it to be and the protagonist’s talk at the very end was beautiful. Those were all phenomenal, but as I said, the endings did pile too much into one another and that is due to some really troublesome structure. Yes, it is pretty bad. The beginning is too slow and dragged and the endings were great, but there were too much of those. I did like the pacing, but the structure itself is problematic and that is all due to the novel split which was a bad choice in the first place.

The character development was good here, admittedly not as good as before, but still satisfying. Katniss remains such a strong female protagonist and I really loved her character once again. Yes, her love story isn’t as well realized, but she is still such a grounded and even unsympathetic character which is such a departure from the usual main character. Peeta wasn’t particularly well utilized this time around and the over-reliant focus on his character was unfortunate. Gale was good and tragic as is Finnick and I once again loved Haymitch and especially Effie who is such a sweetheart and one of my favorite characters in the series.

Johanna was phenomenal for the little screen time she received and the squad characters are all lacking and underused unfortunately. But President Snow is such a great character and his dialogue with Katniss near the end is just fantastic and one of the film’s highlights. The same goes for President Coin who wasn’t that well utilized in the previous installment, but was stupendous this time around and that commentary on leadership, especially regarding her character, is such a sophisticated and standout touch.

The acting is naturally terrific. Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t particularly good or memorable in the first half, but she still proved herself later on with a powerful performance in a demanding role. Josh Hutcherson was the weak link with a weaker performance, but Liam Hemsworth is quite good and Jena Malone is superb. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks of course both did a phenomenal job and I just love both of those characters and especially their relationship and their moment near the end was heartwarming. Donald Sutherland and Julian Moore both gave fantastic performances and are so memorable in their roles, especially Sutherland who is one of the standouts in this franchise.

The action is really well executed as always and that is one of the series’ highlights. The sewer sequence is phenomenally intense and so well executed and I loved all the traps in the Capitol as it reminded me of the real Hunger Games. The action isn’t overwhelming and is very entertaining and that is a double punch. And the whole movie is solidly paced and never boring or rushed.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 looks really good with stupendous scenery and it is beautifully shot. The effects are also mostly good and the fashion and interiors and exteriors in particular are beautiful to behold. The tone is well handled, ranging from dramatic to political to action to even a romance. And yes, the movie is dark and serious, but that was needed for this kind of film. And it most definitely is a war picture which I loved as it has real-life connotations despite being a fiction and is just so sophisticated and engaging in its approach. The emotion was lacking at first, but the second half improved on that with a couple of devastating moments. The dialogue is expectedly fantastic and the score is also really well done.

Mockingjay – Part 2 is most certainly better than ‘Mockingjay – Part 1‘, but is so inferior to the original ‘Hunger Games‘ and of course ‘Catching Fire‘ remains the best and my personal favorite. But it is still such a good entry in the end and if it weren’t for the split and the overall inferiority of the last novel, this franchise would have been particularly strong, but is still very good and I am sad to see it go.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 has some structural problems due to still unfortunate book split, some character interactions weren’t as good and the first half has its problems, but this is still a very good film filled with many memorable scenes, good endings, sophisticated political discussions, wonderfully executed action sequences, excellent performances all around and it is overall a good conclusion to a great franchise.

My Rating – 4

 

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Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)

Monsters vs. Aliens

Monsters vs. Aliens Review

Monsters vs. Aliens is a 2009 science fiction animated comedy film from DreamWorks Animation. It is one of the lesser films from the studio that is more frustrating than enjoyable to watch.

Susan Murphy is on her wedding day struck by a meteorite and suddenly grows exponentially in height. She is taken by the government along with the other monsters and eventually they together have to fight an alien invasion. This is such an unoriginal mix of different ideas that is pretty uninspired in terms of storytelling. I did like some parts of it, mainly the feminist overtones with the main character and her relationship with Derek was interesting, but the story is mostly too typical and too straightforward with not a bit of originality or memorable moments.

Susan is an interesting character. On the one hand, she was rather annoying to me and even a bit clichéd, but she still proved herself in the end and is a pretty strong female character. As for the other monster characters, I did like B.O.B. and he was pretty funny and likable and Link was pretty good as well. But Insecto did not get much to do here and Dr. Cockroach is a typical mad scientist creation. Gallaxhar is also a cliched alien character that is too over-the-top, but President Hathaway is really funny and Derek is a one-note, but realistic character and the relationship between Susan and him is well realized.

The acting is really good. Reese Witherspoon admittedly did a good job, but her voice is not that suited for the field of animation and her constant screaming got on my nerves. But Seth Rogen did an excellent job and Hugh Laurie is also pretty good. Stephen Colbert is great as is Paul Rudd. This is once again an annoying celebrity voice cast, but all of the actors did a nice job nonetheless.

The animation is solid, but not amazing. It is colorful and looks good, but the character design is just so uninspired that I did not enjoy it at all. The cosmos and ship sequences look good, but the Earth scenes not so much and the animation is never particularly memorable or inspired. It looks good and is serviceable, but is a forgettable DreamWorks product nevertheless.

There are many things that annoyed me in Monsters vs. Aliens. The action in particular was not just so overwhelming, but also never particularly well executed or that intriguing. It just all blends into a forgettable and annoying mess. And the movie is rarely honestly entertaining which is a problematic fact for an animated flick. There is just too much noise on the screen for most of its running time.

But the humor on the other hand is quite good and I did enjoy it and laughed from time to time. Some characters like the president and B.O.B. were particularly funny, but also some of the sci-fi references were fun, although too on-the-nose. The movie is funny at times and that is its biggest strength. And the references of other movies do get in the way, but not that often as it is handled better than in ‘Madagascar‘, for instance.

It is one of the lesser works for DreamWorks and on the bottom of the list. It is definitely better than ‘Shrek the Third’, but is still lacking and is so frustrating and annoying with its difficult fast pacing and overwhelming action that it isn’t much higher on the list.

The imagery is typical as are its effects and animation. It is never a bit original and is just steals and blends too many other ideas into an incoherent whole. The sci-fi elements and the comedy elements are solid, but the action is mediocre and the tone is not deft at all. The dialogue is certainly too on-the-nose and the message and execution are familiar. And it isn’t as emotional as the material evidently needed. The pacing is bad and too quick and just so nauseating and the humor and acting are its biggest strengths. The beginning is quite good and the ending is sweet, but the whole middle part is so bland and unsatisfactory and such a boring journey to be honest. As for its score, it is not memorable and the sound is too loud. And the whole flick is so forgettable and so uneven and incoherent that it is evident from every scene.

Monsters vs. Aliens has some solid characters, fine acting and the humor is pretty good, but the action is so bland and overwhelming, some characters are annoying, the plot is uninspired and boring and the whole film is too fast paced and too annoying to be enjoyed more. It has its moments, but it is mostly such a forgettable experience and a middling effort for DreamWorks Animation.

My Rating – 2.5

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      Interior & Exterior Stills from Monsters vs. Aliens

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