Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Film Review: ONE HOUR PHOTO (2002)

OneHourPhoto_poster Writer/Director: Mark Romanek
Running time: 92 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): 15

Genre: Drama/Psychological Thriller
UK Release Date: 4th October 2002

Watched on Sky+ Monday 31st May 2011.


I have always admired Robin Williams as a comedian and as a comic actor. He has equally impressed me in a dramatic role, and, to me, this is one of his finest performances of this type. The trouble with someone like Williams is that he has a famous (or infamous if you like) past and you tend to remember him for those things. But if you can see the character beyond the actor then you’re most likely going to enjoy the performance a lot more.

2002_one_hour_photo_001 Seymour Parrish works in the one hour photo processing department of the SavMart store. He has worked there for many years and has seen many customers come and go, but one family, the Yorkin’s have been coming back for ten years. They are Nina and Will and their nine year old son Jakob. Unfortunately for them, Seymour, or Sy as he prefers to be called, has become very attached to them through their photos over the years. So much so that he even fantasises about being a member of this perfect family. After an unfortunate event at work and while processing some photos Sy discovers that the Yorkin’s are not as perfect as he imagined. As you can probably imagine, this does not go down too well with Sy. I won’t say any more so as not to give any spoilers.

2002_one_hour_photo_006 A really well made film that I found quite atmospheric in places. A great performance from Robin Williams as Seymour Parrish, I really felt he nailed the part! Also worthy of note were; Connie Nielsen as Nina Yorkin, Michael Vartan as Will Yorkin, Dylan Smith as Jakob Yorkin, Erin Daniels as Maya Burson and Gary Cole as Bill Owens.

onehourphoto2_1540767c There is a really great commentary all about photographs and what they mean to people that follows through the first two thirds of the film. It is read by Robin Williams as Sy and it really adds character to the film. Although not perfect, I did really enjoy this film and in particular Robin William’s performance. Over all, a tight psychological thriller that does what it says on the tin… Recommended.

My Score: 7.1/10

robin-williams-one-hour-photo-2002-139 LINKS:
(RT=Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0265459/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/one_hour_photo/
Official Site: http://www.foxsearchlight.com/onehourphoto/

Monday, 30 May 2011

Film Review: WALL-E (2008) - Revisited

wall-e_poster Co-Writer/Director: Andrew Stanton
Running time: 90 mins (approx)
Certificate (UK): U

Genre: Animation/Comedy/Adventure
UK Release Date: 18th July 2008

Watched on Sky+ Monday 30th May 2011.


As I may have mentioned before, I’m quite a big fan of animated films. I have some friends who will only watch anime, but I have a much broader palate. I wasn’t going to watch this today when it came up on TV as I had seen it before, but I got enchanted by it all over again and ended up sitting all the way through it (again).

Wall-E1 All life has left the Earth, it sounds pretty bleak, but it’s not really, they’ve gone on a big space ship while an army of robots cleans up the place. And now, some 800 years later, there’s only one robot left, Wall-e. He spends his days collecting and compacting the garbage and making enormous towers out of it. He’s not alone though, and insect, probably a cockroach, is his companion. Wall-e lives in the back of an old truck, where, apart from a bunch of spare parts, he also has a collection of interesting things he’s found over the years. Amongst these is a video of an old musical that he plays every night, and a plant that he found.

wall_e_eve One day he’s going about his business when a spacecraft arrives and drops off another robot, EVE. After a bit of a sticky start, they begin to talk and Wall-e shows EVE around. She has spent most of her time going around scanning everything she sees, looking for something. Later, with a big storm brewing, Wall-e takes EVE to his ‘house’; he shows her some of the things he’s collected. When she sees the plant she immediately puts it inside her chest and shuts down. Wall-e is dumbfounded and tries to revive her, but fails. All he can do is wait with her until the spacecraft returns, which eventually it does. As it takes off, Wall-e stows away and he is taken to another, much larger ship, the Axiom where the humans are. This is where things start to get interesting, so I’ll leave it here.

wall-e-eve This is a very well made film with some great comic touches, particularly in the opening scenes. The first third of the film was really engaging and very enjoyable, however, as soon as Wall-e and EVE make it to the Axiom it becomes slightly more predictable, which is a shame. There isn’t a great deal of dialogue, but it was all done well, honourable mentions go to the voice talents of, Ben Burtt as Wall-e & M-O, Elissa Knight as EVE and Jeff Garlin as Captain McCrea.

wall-e-images This is the second time I’ve seen this film and I can say I enjoyed it much more second time around. The filmmakers are great at giving characters to the robots, even though they cannot really talk properly. I found the opening scenes particularly good, although I didn’t much care for the song from the musical that they kept playing. I guess Wall-e is so appealing because he looks a little like the iconic alien, E.T. As I said, the latter scenes when they make it to the Axiom do get a little predictable, but I still found it very enjoyable… Recommended.

My score: 8.7/10

__wall_e LINKS:
(RT=Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0910970/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/wall_e/
Official Site: http://adisney.go.com/disneyvideos/animatedfilms/wall-e/

Film Review: ORPHAN (2009)

orphan_poster Director: Jaume Collet-Serra
Running time: 123 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Thriller/Horror/Mystery
UK Release date: 7th August 2009

Watched on Sky+ Monday 30th May 2011.


I didn’t know much about this film before seeing it, but the write-up did intrigue me slightly so I thought I’d give it a go. It’s a little too long for my liking, but quite well made if a little cliché in places. I guess I should have done a little more research, but then again I have uncovered the odd ‘gem’ this way in the past. But I digress; let’s have a look at what Orphan is all about.

2009-07-23-OrphanA Kate and John Coleman have just lost their baby, a daughter they were going to call Jessica. She was dead at birth. Needing something to fill the void, they decide to adopt. By the way, they already have two children, a boy, Daniel, and a girl, Max, who is partially deaf and uses sign language to communicate. The family are comfortably off and live in a big house in the countryside. Visiting an orphanage, John meets a nine year old girl called Esther. She is originally from Russia and is delightful. He convinces Kate that she’s the one and they bring her home a few weeks later. Unfortunately Esther is not what she seems and the Coleman’s are in for a very bumpy ride as she sets about her plan for them. I’m not going to say any more on the plot, I believe that should be enough to intrigue you.

orphan09-3-13 Although it was very well made I did have a bit of a problem sympathising with the Coleman’s. It seems they have everything going for them in terms of lifestyle, job, financial security etc., but somehow that isn’t enough for them. It’s not as if their characters come over as particularly nurturing either, Kate a recovering alcoholic and John has been known to have a roving eye in the past. But if you can get past all that there’s a pretty creepy story behind it all.

Orphan-2009-Stills-horror-movies-7305718-800-450 Decent performances all round, particularly from; Vera Farmiga as Kate, Peter Sarsgaard as John and especially from Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther, she was particularly creepy. Also worth a mention were; CCH Pounder as Sister Abigail, Jimmy Bennett as Daniel and Aryana Engineer as Max.

orphan_2009_1024x768_551409 Putting aside my incomprehension of the reasons for the Coleman’s wanting to adopt, I did find the film quite disturbing. Esther particularly so, the way she manipulates situations and how she’s always listening in is quite unnerving. As I said at the beginning, it is a little cliché in places and it is way too long but over all quite a sinister tale (glad I watched it in daylight!). Finally a mention for the guys who do the opening and closing credits, very cleverly done IMO, nice work. I guess over all, it’s recommended, but only just.

My Score: 6.1/10

533469_1283709148477_full LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1148204/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10010658-orphan/
Official Site: http://www.orphanmovie.co.uk/

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Film Review: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON (2010)

HowToTrainYourDragon_poster Co-Writers/Co-Directors: Dean DeBlois & Chris Sanders
Running time: 94 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Animation/Adventure/Comedy
UK Release date: 31st March 2010

Watched on Sky+ Sunday 29th May 2011.


I had heard a lot about this film before seeing it; after all, it was a huge hit when it hit the screens last year. Now showing on TV, I thought it was about time I saw just what all the fuss was about. You’ll be pleased to know I wasn’t too disappointed, I really enjoyed this tale of Vikings, Dragons and friendship. There were just a couple of niggles, but I’ll get to them later.

how-to-train-your-dragon-20100312115801899 When young Hiccup, son of the town of Berk’s leader, Stoick the Vast, decides he wants to fight dragons, he disobeys his father and goes into battle with an invention of his. He brings down a rare dragon, a Night Fury, but finds himself unable to kill it when he finds it the following day. He releases the dragon, but it is injured and needs Hiccup’s help to be able to fly again. He calls the dragon Toothless and it’s not long before they become friends. Through Toothless, Hiccup learns more about the dragons that have been plaguing his town and that it is not through their own choice. When Stoick discovers the dragon you can tell there’s going to be conflict, but will it end well for the boy and his dragon? Well, you’ve probably guessed I’m not going to tell you here.

Toothless-Night-Fury This film has two things in its favour, a decent plot and some top class animation. It’s all beautifully drawn in a similar style to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (2009), which I also enjoyed very much. Well voiced by the talents of; Jay Baruchel as Hiccup, Gerard Butler as Stoick, Craig Ferguson as Gobber the Belch, America Ferrera as Astrid, Jonah Hill as Snotlout and Christopher Mintz-Plasse as Fishlegs… to name but a few.

how-to-train-your-dragon-20091110014848165_640w I said at the beginning I had a couple of niggles, well, we’ll start with accents. I was always brought up to believe Vikings came from Scandinavia (that’s Sweden, Finland, Norway or Denmark). These appear to all come from Scotland for some reason. Also, despite the fact that all their parents speak with Scottish accents, all the kids speak with American accents (very confusing). Furthermore, on a technical note, although I saw it in 2D, the picture seemed very dark, even the outside scenes looked a bit muted. Probably an after-effect of it having been 3D’d for those that like parting with the extra cash. It may have got a higher score were it not for the niggles I’ve mentioned here.

2010_how_to_train_your_dragon_006 Over all though, it’s the story that’s important, and this film really delivers on that count. The animation is beautifully done, when it’s not too dark to see and the characters are well thought out, despite their unusual choices of accents. I really enjoyed it!… Highly recommended.

My Score: 8.4/10

howtotrainyourdragonimage LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0892769/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1194522-how_to_train_your_dragon/
Official Site: http://www.howtotrainyourdragon.com/

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Film Review: SCREAM (1996)

Scream_poster Director: Wes Craven
Running time: 107 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18

Genre: Horror/Mystery/Thriller
UK Release date: 2nd May 1997

Watched on Sky+ Saturday 28th May 2011.


I have been recently reading a lot of reviews of the latest film in this series, Scream 4. Now, for one reason or another I have never seen any of the ‘Scream’ films before… well not all the way through anyway. Time to change that I thought and so here we are with the first one, Scream. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would, it doesn’t take itself all that seriously and there’s an awful lot more humour than I expected.

Scream We open with a mysterious voice calling up a girl called Casey, who is home alone about to watch a scary movie. She tries to blow him off but he is persistent and eventually begins to creep her out. Things don’t end too well for Casey, or her boyfriend, Steve, after a masked assailant has finished with them. We then switch to another girl, Sidney, her mother had been murdered almost a year ago and her father is about to leave on a business trip. All the talk the next day at school is about the murder and on returning home Sidney receives a call from a man with a mysterious voice. She isn’t so easily scared, but still she is attacked by the same masked assailant. Having fought him off, her boyfriend, Billy turns up just before Deputy Dewey. Having found a cell phone on him, Dewey arrests Billy and Sidney goes to stay the night with Dewey’s sister, Tatum. As time goes by the bodies begin to mount up and this attracts the media, particularly ambitious reporter, Gale Weathers. It’s only a matter of time before Sidney is to be the next on the list, and anyway, there’s a score to settle and an awful lot of suspects.

scream-rose-neve_l This made a refreshing change for me, a horror film that doesn’t take itself too seriously but at the same time has all the scares and shocks of a more serious one. I liked it! Decent performances all round; Neve Campbell did a good job as Sidney, as did Skeet Ulrich as Billy. Also of note were Courteney Cox as Gale Weathers, David Arquette as Deputy Dewey and Matthew Lillard as Stuart. Also nice cameos from Drew Barrymore as Casey, Wes Craven very briefly appeared as Fred the Janitor and Henry Winkler as Principal Arthur Himbry.

sc157dn There is a great soundtrack too, including an interesting acoustic rendition of ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’ when Sidney and Billy are first seen on screen together (very nicely done). I suspect, unfortunately, that the other films in the series may not live up to this rather good beginning, but we shall see… If you haven’t seen it, it’s definitely worth a viewing, even if you’re not really a fan of teen horrors (like me)… Final verdict: Recommended.

My Score: 7.5/10

tumblr_lawxerBMfa1qzftcho1_500 LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0117571/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1074316-scream/

Friday, 27 May 2011

Film Review: COP OUT (2010)

CopOut_poster Director: Kevin Smith
Running time: 107 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Comedy/Action/Crime
UK Release date: 16th April 2010

Watched on Sky+ Friday 27th May 2011.


I should say from the start that I’m not a great fan of film comedies, for the most part they just don’t work for me. People say to me, “What about the part where…”, or “What about that that guy who…”, yes, all well and good, but invariably, you can see all those parts in the trailer! I’d rather they made a 30 minute short, or a TV show than make me sit through 90 minutes (or more) of pointless filler just to get to a punch line most people worked out before they even got into their seat! Ok, rant over, I’ll get on with the business in hand, Cop Out.

cop-out-trailer-02-still When it first came out this film got quite a slating by the critics and so with much hope that maybe they didn’t get it and I just might, I sat down with a little anticipation in my heart (or was it indigestion?) Well, it didn’t take long before the critics proved themselves worthy of the title. It sucked. Not only did it suck, but it sucked even more… got a little better and then sucked again at the end. I won’t even bother doing a synopsis of the plot, I’m that disappointed with it.

cop_out_2 Of the cast, Bruce Willis did his best with some very mediocre material as Jimmy Monroe. It certainly wasn’t up to ‘Moolighting’ standards as far as dialogue goes. Tracy Morgan was just annoying, loud, crass, but mostly annoying as Paul Hodges. Ana de la Reguera didn’t have much to say, but looked nice as the damsel in distress, Gabriela. Finally, Guillermo Díaz did a pretty good job as the comedy Mexican bad guy, Poh Boy.

Cop Out movie image There are many things to dislike about this film, but on the plus side, the soundtrack was alright. It was quite well produced but the script was diabolical (IMO). I don’t know what’s happened to Kevin Smith, he used to make some pretty good (and funny) films, but this was a dud with a capital ‘D’! Definitely NOT recommended.

My Score: 3.4/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1385867/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cop_out/
Official Site: http://copoutmovie.warnerbros.com/dvd/

Film Review: IRON MAN 2 (2010) - Revisited

IronMan2_poster Director: Jon Favreau
Running time: 120 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12

Genre: Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi
UK Release date: 30th April 2010

Watched on Sky+ Friday 27th May 2011.


I very much enjoyed the first film in this series and was hoping for more of the same in the sequel. Fortunately I wasn’t too disappointed, it lived up to the first one, maybe not quite as good (sequels seldom are), but a fine effort nonetheless. The setting is New York where Tony Stark, having revealed himself as Iron Man and having brought peace to the world, is holding his Stark Expo, an exhibition of technology from all over the world. An idea originated by his father, Howard.

Iron-Man-2-movie-05 In Russia, Ivan Vanko, brooding after the death of his father, Anton, who had worked with Howard Stark on the early prototype of the power source that now drives Iron Man’s suit. He was extradited back to Russia for espionage and made to live in Siberia. Ivan, now seeking revenge works on a suit of his own. Meanwhile back in the USA, Tony Stark has been summoned before a Senate committee who are determined to get him to give them the Iron Man suit for military use. One of the experts called to the hearing is Justin Hammer, one of Stark’s former competitors when he made weapons for a living. Bringing his friend, Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes to testify backfires on the committee and Stark wins the day, but things are not over between him and Hammer.

iron-man-2-movie-image-mickey-rourke-600x398 Stark now decides to hand control of Stark Industries over to Pepper Potts having discovered his health is at risk from wearing the suit. The papers are drawn up and a woman from the legal department, Natalie Rushman, brings them for signing. She impresses Stark and later becomes Pepper’s assistant. Heading to Monaco, Stark decides to compete in a motor race. He is surprised when Ivan Vanko turns up and destroys his car with plasma whips. Fortunately, Pepper is there with his Iron Man suit and he manages to subdue the Russian. Vanko goes to jail but is later sprung by someone who is very interested in his work.

Mickey-Rourke-Whiplash-Iron-Man-2-movie-image Returning home, Stark prepares for his birthday party, but with many things praying on his mind he gets drunk wearing the suit and ends up in a fight with Rhodey. Enter Nick Fury who helps put Stark back on the road to recovery and reveal that someone close to him is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Hammer is due to show the work he has been doing at Stark’s Expo and he has a few things he wants to surprise him with. Things are brewing up for a big fight at the end, but I don’t want to spoil it for you, I’ll just say it’s pretty spectacular and Vanko isn’t finished with Stark just yet.

iron-man-2-movie-scarlett-johansson This is a very well made film with plenty of very well designed and executed special effects. The score is great, but if you put AC/DC, The Clash and Queen in there you’re always going to get my vote! The performances were all good, special mentions go to Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer and Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko. Honourable mentions go to Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Don Cheadle as Lt. Col. James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes, Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

ironman2_movie02-550x366 I must admit I didn’t much care for the character of Tony Stark at first, he is egotistic and narcissistic. As the film went on he did show he does have a human side though. Justin Hammer is equally egotistic which I found made for an interesting dynamic to this good versus evil story. I also had a problem with America being the centre of everything, yet again, it’s like the rest of the world doesn’t exist! (Apart from Monaco). Although I did find it amusing when Stark is standing in front of a giant US flag projected on a screen with an Australian/British rock band providing the music. But enough of these minor niggles, the film is great fun, not as good as the first one, but as sequels go, it’s certainly watchable. Over all, recommended.

My score: 7.3/10

Iron-Man-2-Movie-1 LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1228705/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/iron_man_2/
Official Site: http://ironmanmovie.marvel.com/

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Film Review: ADAPTATION (2002)

Adaptation_poster Director: Spike Jonze
Running time: 114 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Susan Orlean (book)
Charlie Kaufman (screenplay)
Donald Kaufman (screenplay)

Genre: Drama/Comedy/Crime
UK Release date: 28th February 2003

Watched on Sky+ Tuesday 24th May 2011.


I went into watching this without really knowing much about it. I knew who was starring in it and I knew it had picked up some awards. Other than that I really didn’t know very much about it at all. Having seen it and having done a little research I can see why it has got the notoriety it has. It’s a very clever plot that’s quite quirky but always keeps the audience engaged and guessing what the next twist will be. Of course Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman are the pair behind the excellent (IMO) 1999 film, Being John Malkovich.

adaptation-16 Ok, to the plot… You may recognise one or two character names here. Charlie Kaufman is a bit of a timid individual who happens to be quite a successful screenwriter. He has been commissioned to adapt a book by Susan Orlean called "The Orchid Thief". The trouble is, he’s finding it almost impossible to adapt. To add to his pain, his twin brother, Donald, who is much more outgoing, has decided he wants to be a screenwriter too. He has some great ideas and is always pestering Charlie just when he’s struggling with his work. We are told (by flashback) the story of “The Orchid Thief”, an individual known as John Laroche who lives in Florida and makes a living from taking rare plants, particularly orchids, from the various parks and reserves in the area. It may seem that there isn’t much to get your teeth into here, but believe me, that’s just the bare bones of it. I really don’t want to say too much more, I believe it’s best if you watch this one for yourself.

adaptation34 As I said at the beginning, this is quite a quirky film with quite a few plot twists. I found it very enjoyable, if a little too long. It’s topped off by two great performances; firstly from Nicolas Cage who plays both Charlie and Donald Kaufman, he is really excellent. Secondly, we have Chris Cooper as John Laroche who really earned his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor (IMO). Also of note was Meryl Streep as Susan Orlean, I thought she was pretty good without being stretched too much. There was a small part for Maggie Gyllenhaal as Donald’s love interest, Caroline Cunningham, and it was nice to see a brief cameo from Brian Cox as screenwriting guru, Robert McKee.

adaptation I quite enjoyed this quirky comedy/drama, it kept be interested all the way through and I found it quite entertaining. I did feel it was a little too long and tended to drag a bit towards the end. Other than that, a fine piece of work with a very clever plot and one I have no problem in recommending to you.

My Score: 7.5/10

adaptation-4 LINKS:
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0268126/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1118700-adaptation/
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/adaptation/index.html

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Film Review: LEGION (2009)

Legion_poster Co-Writer/Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Running time: 96 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 15

Genre: Action/Fantasy/Adventure
USA Release date: 5th March 2010

Watched on DVD Sunday 22nd May 2011.


This film has attracted some really bad reviews but I decided to see for myself just what everyone was getting so het up about. Well, although it’s not the best film in the world, it’s far far better than many would have you believe. Yes, the premise is pretty preposterous, but I like the execution and I like the performances and so it turned out not as awful as I feared. I should say for the record that I’m not a religious man as so wasn’t offended by the use of religious iconography in this film.

legion trailer A waitress, Charlie, who works in a diner on a deserted road in the Mojave Desert is heavily pregnant. She is looked after by Jeep Hanson and his father Bob, who owns the diner. It’s a typical day with the usual comings and goings, but there’s something in the air. And when a sweet old lady tells Charlie her baby is going to burn before going crazy and trying to kill everyone, they all know something is seriously wrong. Then a stranger arrives, he is heavily armed and ready for a fight. He calls himself Michael and claims he is a fallen angel. He has come to save Charlie’s baby from the coming apocalypse as he is the only hope for mankind. More people arrive, but they are possessed and have only one thing on their minds. Many are killed but they are soon beaten back. Can this small band hold out until the baby comes, or will the possessed return to take the baby? A tough one I know, but I’m not going to tell you here.

LEGION The film is pretty well made with some nice special effects and some decent performances. It is let down by a rather weak story that could have been done with much more mystery than it was. Decent performances all round; Paul Bettany did a good job as Michael, although I felt he wasn’t really stretched, although he did have some of the best dialogue. Lucas Black was ok as Jeep Hanson and it was nice to see Dennis Quaid as his father Bob. Tyrese Gibson was also good as the reformed bad guy Kyle Williams and Adrianne Palicki was ok, without being spectacular as Charlie. Finally a mention for Charles S. Dutton who did a good job as the chef, Percy Walker.

LEGION It very much put me in mind of the 1976 John Carpenter film, Assault on Precinct 13 with the quite claustrophobic feel of it. It’s just a shame that the premise behind the storyline wasn’t better thought out, or that the character of Michael didn’t have more mystery about him. As I said at the beginning though, I think it was well produced and there were some decent performances. I know many won’t agree, but I didn’t dislike it all that much… I won’t recommend it, but neither will I consign it to the reject pile, with this one I’ll give you a free choice.

My Score: 5.2/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt1038686/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/legion_2010/
Official Site: http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/legion/

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Film Review: PLANET OF THE APES (1968)

PlanetoftheApes_Poster1968 Director: Franklin J. Schaffner
Running time: 112 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): PG

Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi/Adventure
USA Release date: 3rd April 1968

Watched on Sky+ Tuesday 17th May 2011.


I have seen this film a several times before but this is the first time I’ve attempted a review. Made at the time when NASA was getting closer to putting a man on the moon, writers were beginning to explore the possibilities this achievement might open up. French novelist Pierre Boulle took it to its extreme with his novel of the same title on which this film is based. For those that are maybe too young, or have been living under a rock for the last forty or so years, here’s a brief summary.

8228263674_Planet_of_the_Apes_1968_DVDRip_DivX Colonel George Taylor and his surviving crew, Landon and Dodge, crash land on a planet they think is far from Earth in the Orion constellation. It looks very barren but the air is breathable and there is water. They set off to find if there is any life. Eventually they find plants and then primitive mute human like creatures. These humans are foraging for food when they are attacked by apes! No ordinary apes though, these can speak, ride horses and use weapons. Dodge is killed and Taylor is injured in the throat before he is captured. He is taken to the Ministry of Science where he is put under the care of Dr. Zira who treats his injuries. She is intrigued by his attempts to talk. Her friend, Cornelius, is more cautious and her boss, the Minister of Science, Dr. Zaius, wants him put down. Still unable to talk, Taylor eventually escapes but is re-captured after an exciting chase through the town. It is here he is heard to utter the memorable line, “Get your filthy ape hands off of me!”. What can this mean for the apes? A human that can talk! There are plenty of witnesses who believe man to be inferior to them and is to be treated like any dumb animal. Much more is to be revealed before the end but, of course, I’m not going to tell you here.

Planet of the Apes 2 Somebody really thought about the world the Apes inhabit, there is a clear structure to their society. Orang-utans are the administrators, chimps are the scientists and gorillas are the military. It’s not clear who does all the menial jobs, but there is a structure there. The cinematography is quite superb; it would have looked great on the big screen (I’ve only ever seen it on TV). Of course the make up effects are also groundbreaking and quite brilliant for the time it was made. The music is quite unusual, but still in keeping with the visuals.

Planet_Of_The_Apes_1968 I thought Charlton Heston did a great job as Colonel George Taylor, he played it with the arrogance and swagger the part needed. Kim Hunter was also really good as Dr. Zira, she was really great despite the limitations of the costume and the make-up. Of course, Roddy McDowall is best known for his part as Cornelius, and various parts in the other ‘Planet of the Apes’ films and finally as Galen in the much loved ‘70’s TV series of the same name. Also worthy of note are Maurice Evans as Dr. Zaius, James Whitmore as the President of the Assembly and Linda Harrison as Nova (although she didn’t have to say much).

apes-trio This is the best of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ films, even the 2001 reboot starring Mark Wahlberg. It gained a huge following and started a very lucrative franchise for the studio. It is really well made although I thought it took quite a long time before we actually saw an ape. It also struck me that for a species of vegetarians they wear an awful lot of leather… just an observation. So, over all, a really well made and iconic film with some great ideas that really took hold of the public imagination. I really enjoy it every time I see it… Highly recommended.

My Score: 8.4/10

(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0063442/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1016397-planet_of_the_apes/