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Chix Chat on Film review: Apes vs Humans
While the original Planet Of The Apes film did show that humans had been dominated by evolved apes, it did not have the same ominous tone that this film Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes brings to the franchise. This film paints a very real picture of the plausibility and the possibility of humans no longer being the dominant species. There was no need to waste time rehashing what took place in the predecessor film, so the telling of what had transpired during the opening credits left the entire film to address the task at hand; the fall of man. But, this film was so much more than a tale of how man fell, it delved into the dynamics of the father-son relationship, and how some wrongs can be so life altering that there's no coming back. This was an intelligently written, though provoking story that picks up roughly a decade after the apes flee into the forest. Caesar (Andy Serkis) now has a family including a rebellious son Blue Eyes (Nick Thurston) and is leader to an enormous clan, which includes characters previously established. Maurice (Karin Konoval) the circus orangutan, Rocket (Terry Notary) the chimp- pimp, and Koba (Toby Kebbell) all of whom are living in unison until humans happen upon their home. This is the point where everyone's agenda begins to unfold, none clearer than Koba's whose disparaging past has completely marred him. He was the only character who had focused intentions, everyone else was somehow manipulated or unaware of the big picture that led to the human-ape clash, which caused me to sign with frustration several times throughout the film, which is my only issue with the story; the overwhelming naivete. I have focused primarily on the apes, but the humans do deserve some acknowledgement for attempting to avoid any further annihilation of the human race. Malcolm (Jason Clarke) was a good man who stepped way outside his comfort zone to fight for peaceful resolutions. Unfortunately, the cards were already stacked against them. I liken it to watching Titanic, you can hope that this time they will miss the iceberg, but it's inevitable. The special effects in today's cinematic world never cease to amaze me, what was done here is no exception. The apes were a given that they would be extremely lifelike, but to see how nature had ravaged civilization in such a relatively short time was a bit frightening. This was a very good film, from beginning to end. I enjoyed it immensely mostly because it made me feel some kind of way.
A Chix Chat On Film Review: New spin on a classic.
This film was so creative and imaginative that it made me want to go back and review Sleeping Beauty just to map the correlations; this was a wonderful new spin on an old tale. Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) was not just a one dimensional villain; she was truly relatable and genuinely garnered sympathy for all that she endured. I wasn't surprised that she had been betrayed costing her to lose her wings, that much was fairly clear from the trailer although the extent of the betrayal wasn't clear until I experienced the film. Hell has no fury like a fairy scorned! But anyone who has ever been angry for any reason knows that it is very hard to stay in that place. The passage of time depicted as Aurora (Elle Fanning) grew was the best gauge for the changes in Maleficent's disposition. The story was very engaging to watch as Maleficent also grew. Hopefully, there won't be a crazy Hollywood band wagon of films based on every classic villain's perspective; that would be such a shame and would put me back on my soap box regarding a lack of originality. Shrek did it right and now so has Maleficent. There were so many phenomenal special effects in this film that it's hard to call out some as superior to others. With that being said, whenever Maleficent exhibited her powers the results were awe inspiring, from the floaters, to her in-flight and those amazing battle sequences. The special effects were as much a star of this film as the talented actors. I did feel like some of the magical creatures were recycled from the Spyderwick Chronicles, but most were new creations so that's only a minor infraction. With all the action, an engaging adventure and a female lead, this film is to be enjoyed by all. I'll suffice it to say that this is a great film to kick-off the start to the summer movie season for avid film lovers.
X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014)
A Chix Chat on Film review: Humans vs Mutants vs Sentinels
The title of this film and the trailer made it quite clear that the plot would deal with time travel. With time travel there's always the risk of some paradox, but my thoughts were that there was a need for some type of event or portal to an alternate universe or something phenomenal to reclaim characters that had been lost to in prior X-Men installments. Days of Future Past tells a very creative story surrounding the Sentinels, which we only previously got a glimpse of in a school training exercise. The design of the newest X-Men nemesis in this film was spectacular; the special effects were sublime in conveying how impervious to most any attack these massive creations were. I recall from the animated series on television how all the key characters battled against the Sentinels, which would have been basically impossible with so many of the X-Men having met their demise in The Last Stand. There were a few new mutants introduced in this new tale, Adam Cantu from televisions The Following as Sunspot, Booboo Stewart best known from The Twilight Saga is all grown up as Warpath and most notably Evan Peters as Quicksilver. Quicksilver was an integral part of getting things moving, no pun intended, his character was the most entertaining because he was both quirky and uncontrollable. He was not one of the characters that recalled as front and center from the animated series, but he certainly made a lasting impression and will hopefully be back. Aside from the new mutants the other very interesting aspect of the story was the state of existence the players were in from where we left them at the end of First Class. This was a young Professor that I had never known. Rather than go on about all the things that made this a great film. I will suffice it to say that it was the best in the series so far. It was creative and masterfully told. I loved it and am looking forward to the next story featuring Apocalypse, who as I recall was a most difficult foe. BTW if you haven't seen this film yet, be sure to stick around after the final scenes for an after credits treat.
A Chix Chat On Film Review: Monster for the ages
Godzilla has been around longer than I have, so I've had the opportunity to see his many incarnations over the years starting with the 1956 King of The Monsters starring Raymond Burr, which I saw many years after it premiered but found it extremely memorable. The trailer for this monster reboot immediately wet my curiosity. The story was obviously going to be done with finesse there seemed to be an air of mystery, and was being told as if it were a serious drama. I've realized that when fictional tales are told with a dramatic flair making the tone more realistic the more serious I take them. Case and point, there was a campiness to the last Godzilla that added to my distaste for it, not to mention his lizard-like appearance, then came this latest offering and I am filled with the same excitement for Godzilla as I remember having as a child. There were some questionable actions and scenes by some of the characters such as Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) having encounter after encounter with skyscraper sized monsters and narrowly escaping with his life just too many times to be believable. The monsters however were absolutely believable, and I have made no secret of the fact that I have a great appreciation for first rate the special effects and in this case they were very worthwhile to watch. I also appreciated the scientific explanation for Godzilla's existence and feeding habits as detailed by Vivienne Graham (Sally Hawkins). I have to say that I am now looking forward to expansion of the series, with an updated Mothra, Rodan, MechaGodzilla any other combatant for Godzilla and anywhere else the film makers want to take us in the monsterverse. On another note, yes I look for 'Us' in every film, so it was nice to have Captain Russell Hampton (Richard T. Jones) on the job in command and defending the world from the carnage.
Frankie & Alice (2010)
A Chix Chat on Film review: Split Personality
I did not realize that Frankie and Alice was a 2010 film until I looked it up at IMDb. Although, I did notice while viewing the film that Halle looked incredible and youthful as the lead character in the title role of Frankie. This is the second time that Ms. Berry has been on screen as an exotic dancer, she was less memorable in that short lived role in The Last Boyscout. Frankie Murdock (Halle Berry) comes across as someone who knows what she has to do to survive her circumstances how to pick a mark to get paid and even hands out vocational advice to coworkers. We find out however, through her erratic behavior it is revealed that she is not as well put together as she first seems. I knew from the trailer that the film dealt with multiple personality disorder or whatever is the current clinical name for split personalities, so the film The Three Faces of Eve came to mind as I attentively watched the story unfold. Through a series of flashbacks we see Frankie as a child and a young woman and eventually learn and understand the root of her mental illness as she undergoes treatment with Dr. Oz (Stellan Skarsgard). I would love to see Mr. Skarsgard step outside of his character, he has this Zoolander approach to acting, no matter what persona he is portraying it's always the same look. Ms. Berry on the other hand was on point she was emotionally engaging, showing a range that was both compelling and evoked compassion for what her character had endured. Her personality was splintered; her experiences caused her coping mechanisms into overdrive. Halle Berry proves that the title of 'Oscar winner' is well deserved. She played the role very convincingly with Oz and against the other key characters in the film her mother Edna (Phylicia Rashad) and her sister Maxine (Miranda Bailey oops, I mean Chandra Wilson). I enjoyed this story because it was interesting and not a new construct, it was nice to see the bad guy in the usual places, but to find a completely unexpected bad guy in this film was bittersweet. The first half hour or so became a bit annoying with all the jumping around, but not enough to reduce the entertainment value.
Chix Chat on Film review: A brand new Noah
The trailers for Noah would lead one to believe that the film is an epic bible story and with all the strides made with computer generated imagery this would have to be a marvel to watch when the flood waters began to rise. The thing that I toiled with is whether it actually should be considered a bible story. It seemed as if the biblical names including the title player Noah (Russell Crowe) and the flood were what made this supposedly biblical. The first thirty minutes or so I just couldn't get past the feeling that this was a Sci-Fi or Fantasy story, because the film had such an otherworldly feel to it. There were some truly inspired CGI sequences like when all that creeps and crawls came to the arc, the arc itself and the geyser explosions, however I was less impressed by the snake in the garden and a little perplexed by the armadog. I guess his appearance was to say that man was not the only creature without innocence and it too must have perished. We just didn't know anything about it and any remains must be buried deep beneath the sea. This is where I had issues with some of the creative license taken in the storytelling, if it is based on a story that I am familiar with, I prefer that it is very closely knit to the known accounts. I will say I was all in with the characters and the actors ability to bring truth to their portrayals. Most noteworthy was Ila (Emma Watson), when she cried I cried. Like I said I was all in. I enjoyed the movie, therefore I surmised that anything that was unfamiliar to me in the storytelling was to fill in the blanks within the historical account. Like given the enormity of the size of the arc, Noah and his family must have had some help, this film identifies the helpers. Even though this must have been a story of Noah that happened in another galaxy far, far away I'd consider seeing it again, and that is truly the test for a worthwhile film.
Chix Chat on Film review: Pitch Black 2
I have been invested in Vin Diesel's Riddick since first experiencing Pitch Black and I find it hard to believe that it's been 13 years since it was released. The duality of this character or I should probably say multi-faceted character is fascinating and the journey to understand who he is and why he is this enigma of a perpetually reluctant hero has consistently been engaging. Initially, I was unable to truly discern from the trailer if the story took place pre Pitch Black or post Necromancers, but it appeared that he was wearing Necro attire which would place the story at some point after he commenced his reign from the edict that 'you keep what you kill. What I could discern from the trailer was that he was in another situation that was wrought with a deadly collection of monsters all of which were extremely dangerous. The how of what places him on planet Notfurya, which I prefer to call Predatorium was a fairly brief recollection of events by Riddick. The thing that took something like forever was the opening credits and his odyssey to adapt to this hostile environment. This story provided a connection to both predecessor films and was more like the first, than Chronicles. The special effects that delivered the aircrafts, the landscape of the planet and the carnage were first rate. The creature special effects could have been improved upon, the scorpion-like baddies were too similar to the creatures in Pitch and the canine's movement was too animated to ever truly believe that they were real. I was intrigued by the casting, I don't know what fountain of youth this guy is drinking from but Bokeem Woodbine (Moss) is simply ageless, I still see Joshua from Jason's Lyric and that was nineteen years ago. He is an actor that I feel should be given some serious recognition for his talent, he is always convincing no matter what type of role he plays. The only thing that I can say about Keri Hilson's (Prisoner) memorable acting debut is 'wow', she has a bright future as an actress. I will continue to follow Riddick on any and every future adventure but to date Chronicles is still my favorite, I have and can watch it repeatedly and am always entertained. I had high expectations for Riddick and it was more like Pitch black recycled with a splattering of some Die Hard with a Vengeance. Nevertheless, it was still entertaining and should be seen on the big screen for the effects. I give it an amber light.
Chix Chat on Film review: Supernatural adventure never mundane
The Mortal Instruments City of Bones was adapted from a novel like many of the contemporary fantasy films of late. Fortunately, this one was a good choice to bring to the big screen because it gives the audience a well-developed story with likable lead characters. Clary Fray (Lily Collins) is a typical teenager at first glance, and although she is special the basis of her uniqueness is unbeknownst to her. As seen in the trailer, she witnesses what seems to be a murder in the midst of a crowded club however no one except her has seen it happen. This incident sets up the adventure which begins with Clary meeting Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower) a Shadowfighter, which is basically someone who battles demons. The strides made in technology make it possible to craft a film like this where a huge part of the experience is based on the special effects. There were a number of things that I likened to films that preceded this one like the portal (Stargate), the floating lady (Ghostbusters), the beam (LOTR) and there were a number of other images that reminded me of other films but I dare not give away too much for fear of spoiling it for others like myself who are new to this world hidden from Mundanes. Don't get me wrong even though there was some borrowing in the special effects category the film looked great, with cool scenes like the reveal of the Institute. Aside from the look of the film it maintained an ominous feel which added to the character of this movie. The only CGI creations that I somewhat considered as comic relief were the bird-smoke-burnt charcoal demons. This tale dealt with all manner of supernatural beings and had an interesting take on zombies. I suppose it makes sense given that from what I know or have seen regarding zombies they are generally man-made. I have not read the books and still have mixed feelings about doing so prior to viewing an adapted film, so I don't know how true to the book this film was but it completely pulled me in. I was invested in what would happen to Clary and I found the friendship between her and Simon (Robert Sheehan) to be endearing. Although the soundtrack on top of the romantic scenes with Clary and Jace was a bit much, it was still quite sweet. The story was fast paced and interesting and thoroughly held my attention throughout. The film was entertaining and had the desired effect that any film should have, when it ended I was left wanting more. I give it a green light.
Chix Chat on Film review: A Ulysses sized adventure
This film Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters comes just at the right time of the year for tween entertainment. Summer is winding down, school is about to resume and the demi-gods have an adventure worthy of Ulysses. I thought the opening story of Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) initially arriving at camp and how the shield came to be was creative and brought a level of energy to start things off, however I didn't particularly favor the warrior games, which were more like a round of Wipe Out rather than a show of strength from uber gifted halflings. The updating of the stories of Greek mythology is a great way to get this generation of youngsters invested in the tales. The ability through technology to visually depict the mythological creatures makes it all so much more appealing especially creatures like the hippocampus as seen in the trailer, this has to be the best looking seahorse I have ever laid eyes on. There were other creations throughout the film that were first rate special effects, but I wasn't impressed with Kronos, and don't even get me started on the animated history of Zeus, Poseidon and Hades rebelling against their titan father. I'll just sum it up in a word, cheesy. There was some creative license taken with modernizing the Stygian witches and Hermes (Nathan Fillion) all of whom fit right in to the new age, but alas the Cyclops just never seems to evolve. This second installment of the franchise comes with some new talent like Stanley Tucci (Mr. D) who was almost unrecognizable with the facial hair and the hair, Anthony Head (Chiron) and Leven Rambin (Clarisse) whose character brought a healthy dose of in your face competition to Percy (Logan Lerman). Most noticeably missing were those deities seen in the original film that I thought might make at the very least a cameo, the Olympian Gods. I went to see this film really wanting to like it, since I have been a fan of Greek mythology for most of my entire reading life, but I came away a bit indifferent. I laughed, was never too shocked at anything and also yawned. I do hope that viewers don't just take the film at face value and actually go read up on these amazing stories that these tween adventures were inspired by. I give this film an amber light.
2 Guns (2013)
Chix Chat on Film review: Big fun and lots of guns
Any Denzel Washington (Bobby Trench) movie gets my attention immediately, so there was no doubt that I would see 2 Guns. I like Mark Wahlberg (Michael Stigman) films as well but was not sure that the story would be written convincingly enough to believe that in some strange twist of events were two undercover operatives with some mammoth lies between them would somehow end up as friends. I figured just from the trailer that there would at the least be some major trust issues. The early scenes in the film give the audience an opportunity to get acquainted with Bobby and Stig as cohorts, while setting up the plot, which was a little sketchy at first been soon made sense. Accepting the two as authentic friends was as easy as sliding comfortably down into an oversized recliner. I quickly wanted to see more on screen time with the two of them playing off of each other rather than when their characters were facing dilemmas dealing with Papi Greco (Edward James Olmos) and/or Earl (Bill Paxton). This was because of the dialog which is a complement to good writing, the word play, bickering and the banter was amusing and could have easily gotten cheesy, but it made the characters more real. There was very little happening in this film for the ladies, aside from Deb (Paula Patton) whose job was in a power position, they were like sparsely distributed ornaments on a huge tree. Cattle were featured more prominently than the females. Since this was a testosterone fest there was no surprise to see huge explosions, car chases and a number of brawls. One of the funniest scenes happened to be a brawl, and that is just not a common occurrence but don't get me wrong this was no comedy it had its fair share of drama and some shock and awe moments, including an unconventional hand washing that just stuck in my head. I went into the theater thinking that the Washington/Walberg pairing was a stretch of the imagination at best and left the theater wondering how long I would have to wait for 2 Guns 2. This film was definitely targeting the male population, especially with the level of exposure of Mrs. Thicke which was tastefully done I might add, this was a creative story of greed, corruption, betrayal and intrigue with lots of gunplay and plenty of action with added bonus of some Texas based locales. 2 Guns was a lot of fun and was entertaining so I give it a green light.