Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Review

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Director: Matt Reeves
Cast Headliners:  Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Toby Kebbell, Keri Russell
Original Release Date: July 11th , 2014
  The original Planet of the Apes is an great film with deep insight into the way different groups treat and subjugate others, which made sense being that it released in the 1970’s, but was told through a lens of monkey overlords.  Aside from sequels of varying quality there was a alright but underperforming remake by Tim Burton the franchise had remained dormant. 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes directed by Rupert Wyatt was an incredible re-restart to the world of Apes, and showed a fascinating and emotional new beginning to this world of super simians. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes follows up that film to a great result.
            The film does not jump all the way to fully civilized apes just yet.  It is set five years after the events of the last film. The world has been ravaged by the Simian flu and human civilization has collapsed. In this “post-ape-palyptic” world we are re-introduced to Caesar (played again by Andy Serkis) and his tribe of intelligent apes. Every single motion capture actor playing the apes deserves praise, especially Serkis. The visuals and effects on them are so good that they seem shockingly real.  A large portion of the film takes place from Caeser and other ape’s perspectives.  Sign language and subtitles are used with minimilstic visual story telling but it is never boring or hard to follow. The direction by Matt Reeves at the helm manages to make their story digestible and emotional.  Although the ape society is at a not-much-more than Neanderthal level some deep politics and discussions take place.  This time several of the apes talk in brief voiced English tones, but it makes sense and does not come off as cheesy even though they look like real animals. This is aided by the emotion of Serkis in his physical and vocal role, along with his peer Koba (played by Toby Kebbell) who has a ape performance right up there with Serkis’.
            This dark world is also a tale of human survival.  In the overgrown ruins of San Francisco a band of survivors exists still led by Dreyfus (Gary Oldman). Oldman is his usual charismatic self and turns out to be a horrible villain by the end. Dreyfus , after various events, sends a team including Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his wife Ellie (Keri Russell) and their son Alexander (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and others.  The performances by these are very solid as well. The film is as expected incredibly emotional; and the drama between these players is very heartfelt through acting and the lush musical score.

            The film balances moments of quiet emotional contemplation with intense dramatic face-offs. The interaction and prejudice between the two species’ societies brilliantly unfolds to an epic action packed finale.  Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has taken everything that made the first film great and improved on all of those areas.  It’s the most thoughtful and introspective blockbuster of the summer, but yet it still manages to be one of the most exhilarating.  9.1 out of 10

Breaking Bad: Special TV Series Review

Breaking Bad Series Review

            (Note: I don’t do TV reviews here as of now, and I don’t plan to start anytime soon. I also won’t cover all series I watch. But this one right here was special)
I didn’t watch Breaking Bad when it first was on. In fact, I had no idea it premiered in the first place. Sometime after its premiere I would see images of the bald protagonist and people wearing gas masks, but back then I erroneously assumed it was a generic gangster drama series or something. Also at some point I heard that the main person was the father in Malcolm in the Middle, which I found funny.
It’s a shame that I did not become interested until 2012, where I was recommended by a friend that it was a must watch series on par with one of my favorites Game of Thrones. I planned to watch it, but then I did not actually start until late 2013 after the series had finished!!!  I am so glad I made the choice to start and finish its entire run however.
            Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston.   He is a high school teacher who gets cancer and decides to use his knowledge of chemistry to produce and sell meth.  Simple enough stuff, but this show is so much more than that.  It is one of the greatest epic sagas of character dramatic development I have ever seen. Over the course of the series Walter goes from a good man being forced into this dark world of meth, and by the end he literally becomes the very  drug overlord like the villians he once fought against in earlier seasons.  It blows away Anakin Skywalker’s turn to the dark side in Star Wars.
This is accomplished through a combination of absolutely amazing acting on Cranston’s part, and also brilliant use of foreshadowing and cinematic craft. Just as Walter and all the characters’ lives are darkened, so too does the series go from something much more cheerful to dark violent bloody drama.
Creator Vince Gilligan has created a world just as interesting as its protagonist.  Its New Mexico setting draws one in and shows a hot arid world of danger and psychos.  The tone ranges perfectly between drama, action, comedy, and more.  I’ve experienced probably every possible human emotion over the run of Breaking Bad.
The series is also strengthed in that EVERY, SINGLE, CHARACTER is given great development and screen time. Whether it’s the punkish Jesse played by Aaron Paul , the short tempered Hank played by Dean Norris, the troubled Skyler played by Anna Gunn,  or the hilarious comic relief Saul played by Bob Odenkirk I couldn’t wait to see all characters more. The dialogue is great and it’s cool to see when different characters finally interacted and to  see where their storyline’s went.

It was a long epic journey, but it was so worth it.  Few pieces of media have entertained me as much as every episode of Breaking Bad did, and I couldn’t wait to see where the downward spiral of chaos went.  It kept getting better and better to an pulse pounding final seasons.  The series could have ended with even the second or first season, but they found ways to top themselves.  I’ll never forget this and cannot wait until Better Caul Saul since I’d give this series a 10/10