Tag Archives: Gary Oldman

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Review

16 Jul

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My sister’s birthday was this past Saturday. In an effort to “keep it classy” we decided to do a traditional English tea at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel followed by watching the re-imagining of a classic – Planet of the Apes. Growing up, I loved Planet of the Apes, but my love was nothing compared to my sister’s. She remembers things about the series that I forgot long ago.

When Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out in 2011 starring James Franco and John Lithgow, we were convinced it would be a disaster of epic proportions – think Cutthroat Island and Waterworld. By the movie’s end, I was openly crying and my sister was misty-eyed. The plot was surprisingly well laid out and it actually made you think a little while being entertaining. Three years later, we sat in the theatre eagerly waiting to catch up with our favourite primates.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has a different tone than its predecessor. In Rise, we see Caesar’s growth, struggles and his eventual fight for freedom. In Dawn, its 10 years after the Simian Flu has wiped out almost all of humanity. Caesar (Andy Serkis) has become a leader and established a community of apes. The apes believe humanity’s extinct until they come across a group of survivors in their forest. The humans want access to a dam on ape land that can provide electricity to their small city. Caesar is forced to make decisions that could result in war.

The re-emergence of humans creates a divide between the apes. Caesar wants to help the humans and hopes that one day; they can all live together peacefully.  His second in command, Koba (Toby Kebbell), was experimented on in a lab and wants nothing to do with the humans. On the human’s side, it’s almost a parallel storyline. Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his girlfriend Ellie (Keri Russell) trust Caesar, while their leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) is more than willing to kill off the apes if they cause a problem. The theme that runs throughout the movie is how similar the apes have become to humans and that they’re capable of making the same mistakes in the future. Viewers have to decide whose side they’re on.

The CGI is seamless. The battle sequence where the apes storm the human city is amazing and has a bit of everything – guns, horses, fires, explosions, tanks…you name it. The apes’ faces and bodies are highly detailed and you can tell the characters apart easily.

Andy Serkis’ and Jason Clarke’s performances drive the movie. The patriarchs try to do what’s best for their communities’ despite their mutual respect and sympathy for one another. Serkis is at his finest. His movements and expressions give Caesar dimension while keeping everything subtle and subdued.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes needs a third installment since the Apes series is only getting better.

Hail Caesar!

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Lawless: Review

4 Sep

Based off the book The Wettest County in the World, Lawless follows the Bondurant brothers – Forrest (Tom Hardy), Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf) – who run a moonshine business in Virgina during the prohibition era. Despite having a friendly working relationship with the police, the brothers are threatened by deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) who want a cut of their profits or to shutdown their operation down completely.

Guy Pearce is almost unrecognizable with dark hair, a strangely high pitched laugh, virtually no eyebrows and fancy tailor-made suits. That being said he’s in full crazy mode for this role. Bloody and graphic fight scenes dominate the movie – the most horrendous scenes are when Pearce is killing or torturing his enemies in gruesome and unpredictable ways. Vicious, vindictive and creepy, Pearce deserves at least an Oscar nod for his role.

Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke’s performances are quiet and solid as the two oldest Bondurant brothers. Hardy’s character deliberately lacks intensity compared to his other roles as Bane and Bronson. His character is always steady and provides guidance to his thoughtless and reckless younger brothers.

Shia LaBeouf plays the timid and weak youngest brother Jack. Regardless of his shortcomings, Jack’s committed to becoming a real gangster like his idol, Floyd Banner (Gary Oldman). Surprisingly enough, LaBeouf does a decent job as the black sheep of the family. Usually LaBeouf fills me with disdain considering his other roles are horrible or downright ridiculous, yet John Hillcoat managed to make LaBeouf somewhat sympathetic, which is no easy task.

Jessica Chastain, Mia Wasikowska and Gary Oldman have minor roles that don’t seem worthy of them. Why pay for top celebrities, when anyone could play the role?

Director John Hillcoat previously adapted The Road for the big screen and Lawless is only his second big budget movie. Hillcoat balances out the intense and excessive violence with short funny moments, e.g. when Jack desperately tries to avoid Bertha’s (Mia Wasikowska) preacher father and Forrest replying with mhhmm in serious and scary moments.

In spite of all the talented actors and cringe worthy shootings and bloody fights, Lawless is lacking momentum. There never seems to be any urgency to get rid of deputy Rakes even after he injures or kills some of the brothers’ friends and family. The film never really seems to build to a final intense fight scene, rather there’s a series of violent scenes littered throughout.

Lawless is worth seeing for Guy Pearce’s performance, but don’t expect an outlaw picture that rivals Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or a period epic like The Godfather. Take the movie for what it is – an entertaining action adventure.

Samuel L. Jackson joining the new RoboCop

7 Jun

Samuel L. Jackson has signed with MGM and will be joining the cast of Jose Padilha’s RoboCop remake.  He will play Pat Novak, a charismatic media mogul, who is a powerful force in Delta City. Jackson will be joining Gary Oldman, playing the scientist who creates RoboCop, and Joel Kinnaman, Alex Murphy/RoboCop.  More casting announcements to come…

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