Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
A Common Man (2013)
See it just for Kingsley playing the REAL Mandarin!
Alright so this film gets a LOT of flak for being bad. Bad film making. Poorly acted. Poor ADR dubbing/editing. A weak script. Low budget. So be it. I'll give it that. Ben Kingsley is an incredibly underrated actor and his performance alone here makes this film worth watching, particularly because of the wasted potential of his villainous character in Iron Man 3 as The Mandarin. I won't spoil what went wrong in that film for those who haven't seen it, suffice to say that if director Shane Black had taken his character seriously, Kingsley's performance in A Common Man would have delivered a diabolically sinister Mandarin the fans were all expecting to see.
Academy Award winner Ben Kingsley delivers an uncompromising performance as "The Man" a terrorist who plants five bombs around the city of Columbo, Sri Lanka demanding the release of political prisoners from the D.I.G. (Mister DIG) played by Ben Cross, another underrated British performer, in a suspenseful game of cat and mouse. Unfortunately the usually dependable Ben Cross' performance is hampered by bad dubbing and very melodramatic acting but Kinglsey shines in a role reminiscent of his character of hit-man Don Logan in Sexy Beast.
As others have pointed out, there are indeed some audio sync issues as it appears the whole film was ADR'd and lip sync is annoyingly off a little at times (about a frame or two). So it's not the best technically produced film and the acting by the supporting Hindi cast is almost laughably bad at times, but if you want to see Kingsley playing the real Mandarin I suggest you check it out for his performance alone for a glimpse of what could and should have been in Iron Man 3.
Girls Against Boys (2012)
Despicable female revenge movie.
After her affair with a much older married man is over with a young girl gets raped by a guy she meets at a nightclub. Terrible, I know, but then she goes on a killing streak along with her "girlfriend" who shares her contempt and hatred of men and they take sickening pleasure in murdering and torturing all the men in their lives who ever treated them badly.
This film advocates that all men are evil and that women should stand up and get even through violence and killing.
Waste of film. I'd give this zero stars if I could. Utterly despicable rubbish. Don't waste the hours of your life watching this.
District 9 (2009)
District 9 makes no apologies for being a straight-forward heavy-handed allegory for South African apartheid, hence the probability of a malfunctioning extraterrestrial mothership that just so happens to appear hovering in the skies over Johannesburg of all places on Earth and marooning a non-human race of aliens which are quickly given the derogatory slur "Prawn" because of their resemblance in appearance to our planet's indigenous crustaceans and are quickly "relocated" to District 9's shantytowns and slums as history begins to inevitably repeat itself. The film starts off as a mockumentary with realistic brilliance and abruptly shifts gears toward a conventional plot-driven science fiction story that recalls sociological themes of racial prejudice explored in past science fiction films like Alien Nation and Enemy Mine. There really aren't any likable humans in this film at all, not even the "anti-hero" Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) who comes off as a complete bureaucratic tool only interested in (literally) saving his own skin... and that's really the whole point, isn't it? That from an alien's point-of-view their impression of the human race is predominately a vile, greedy, despicably self-serving species whose only objective is profiting from the knowledge and technological "acquisitions" that contact with an advanced alien race might bring us and Director Neill Blomkamp explores these shameful and seemingly unredemptive human characteristics with profound existential brilliance.
The "Prawns" are the most "alien" looking aliens in cinema this side of H.R. Giger's Alien or Stan Winston's Predator and refreshingly features some of the best use of seamlessly integrated CGI seen in cinema in recent years. The more un-human they appear only heightens our fears and anxieties to their seemingly non-hostile intentions and tendencies towards racial animosity. They communicate to us only through a strange audible clicking sound that constitutes their linguistic structure similar to the native South African Bantu and the apparent semantic language differences, cultural customs and communication barriers rapidly deteriorate any hope for peaceful coexistence between our species. For example, the Prawns don't understand legal jargon like "eviction" making their ignorance to our common laws easy targets for bureaucratic exploitation and authoritarian subjugation.
It would be interesting to see if the Prawn who identifies himself only as Christopher Johnson would keep his promise to Wikus. After all the deplorable things we did to his kind though why should he? Perhaps that is what ultimately separates them from us and in spite of his race being cruelly segregated, brutally tortured and inhumanly experimented on comes back in three years to District 10 to free his people and help poor Wikus out of moral sympathy and compassion, universal traits that are seemingly lost upon the native human inhabitants of this alienating planet.
The Fountain (2006)
Millenial masterpiece. Aronofsky is Kubrick for a new generation.
I was utterly moved to tears by this film. The Fountain is a breathtaking masterpiece in the sentimental vein of 2001: A Space Odyssey as it boldly seeks to answer the great mysteries of life, love, death and re-birth transgressing the metaphysical boundaries of the universe. It's epic non-linear narrative spans the centuries with Hugh Jackman delivering an absolutely unforgettable performance as Tomas, a Spanish Conquistador in the 16th century who pledges his loyalty to Queen Isabella (Rachel Weisz) to find the mythical Tree of Life so that Spain will hold the key to the Fourth Paradise, Immortality, denounced as heresy by the Grand Inquisitor. Tomas' quest is interleaved between three converging narratives across time and space. As a modern-day neurosurgeon, Tomas struggles to find a cure for a tumorous disease that threatens the mortality of his beloved wife Izzi who is writing a fable called "The Fountain" chronicling the odyssey of their 16th century quest which can be interpreted as either a fictitious or biographical account of Tomas and Izzi's lives who have endured the centuries together or simply as mythical characterizations of Izzi's unfinished allegorical manuscript representing her husband's obsessive quest to find a cure for her terminal ailment that she has left for him to finish (the past representing Izzi's tale and the future representing Tomas' as he struggles to "finish it") both of which could be argued with equal measure. One of the beauties of The Fountain is its open-ended narrative construct left to speculation and interpretation and can be viewed from an entirely different perspective with each consecutive viewing. Tomas' quest ultimately takes him to the distant 26th century where he has projected himself and the dying Tree of Life across the great void of space in a transcendental bubble to reach Xilbalba, the name of the Mayan underworld given to a dying nebula the brings the creation of new life from the wake of its destruction like the yin and yang of the cosmos and beyond the confines of this mortal coil. "Our bodies are prisons for our souls. All flesh decays... death turns all to ash. And thus, death frees every soul... "
Darren Aronofsky's poetic film blossoms with rich cultural, biblical, mythical and spiritual imagery that speak the common language spoken by all religions and cultures that have asked the boldest philosophical questions about our place in the universe since time immemorial. For anyone who has ever looked to the heavens and stared in the face of mortality and beyond, The Fountain holds all of the answers to life like an epiphany raditing from the heavens. Drink from The Fountain and achieve the knowledge of truth and spiritual enlightenment on the road to Awe. One of the truly great cinematic masterpieces of this century and last, The Fountain will transcend the test of time and eternity.
Apocalypse Apes Redux
Rarely does the restoration of deleted scenes added back into a film work to its benefit. The Extended Edition of Battle for the Planet of the Apes is one of those rare exceptions. The fifth and final chapter in the Apes theatrical series is generally regarded as its weakest link. It had the lowest budget of all of the films in the series and it painfully shows and looks more like it's a made-for-TV movie. In fact, it feels almost like a pilot for the Planet of the Apes Television Series.
The film begins in the year 2670 and is bookended with John Houston as the revered ape Lawgiver reading from the sacred scrolls like a bedtime storyteller. From here the story is told in flashback and the viewer is left scratching their heads by the befuddling logic. Events not clearly explained are left to the viewer to make assumptions or draw conclusions about the contradictory order of events. It must be assumed that a nuclear war had devastated the Earth immediately after the ape uprising in Conquest and somehow only a decade afterward the ape society had unbelievably evolved their verbal powers of speech and intelligence. These facts are inconsistent with Cornelius' explanation of the apes' evolution in Escape in which he explains that the plague that destroyed all cats and dogs occurred some 200 years later than it did in Conquest and that Aldo was the first ape to utter human speech when he said the word "No" which was spoken by Lisa in Conquest, and that Aldo led the revolt against the humans which was led by Caesar. We can only conclude that the incongruent events in Conquest and Battle are the events of an alternate timeline forged by the creation of the temporal paradox from Cornelius and Zira's arrival in Escape. The apes also adorn costumes similar to the fashions of the ape society from the first film which had evolved over several thousand years but again this is only a decade after their revolt against the humans (one explanation could be that since this story is told as a flashback to ape and human children we are seeing it as depicted by their imaginations as a point of reference). MacDonald in this film is not the same MacDonald who was the Governor's Adjutant in Conquest but rather his brother which is confusing since Caesar appeared to have found a human sympathizer and ally in the MacDonald from Conquest and the only reasonable explanation for the deliberate change of character is that MacDonald is played by a different actor this time, but if you aren't paying close attention, you are likely to miss that inference. Ape City is located in a very lush and hospitable forest area within miles of the inhospitable desert wasteland of the annihilated Forbidden City. Automobiles such as jeeps and school buses still work somehow and were not rendered inoperable by the EMP of the atomic detonation. Radioactive half-life apparently only affects the surviving humans living within the irradiated remains of the Forbidden City and the apes can somehow sustain bombardments of high levels of radioactive fallout for a few hours while they search its archives for a videotape of Cornelius and Zira which also amazingly happened to not be vaporized or magnetically degaussed by the atomic blast. The mutated humans all wear skull caps for the purpose of (take your pick): A.) protecting their craniums from high radiation levels B.) to hide the fact that their hair has completely fallen out due to radioactive fallout C.) to enhance telepathic reception of their now-suddenly mutated telekinetic minds or D.) All of the above.
The newly restored scenes with the human mutants and the Alpha-Omega bomb at least help to make some sense of the rather weak narrative and gaps of logic and provide some continuity to the rest of the series. These scenes are significant because it shows the mutants beginning to hone their developing telepathic powers and it establishes the fundamental doctrine of their quasi-religious sect that will worship the Alpha-Omega bomb in future generations. It almost feels more like a direct prequel to Beneath now. Why this subplot was excised is almost as baffling as the film's logic but one reason perhaps is the fact that the film ends with a more optimistic outlook suggesting that the timeline of events were changed when Caesar united the apes and the humans and that the crisis of Beneath may have been averted but it is left open for the audience to decide from the ambiguous tear of the weeping statue of Caesar suggesting that perhaps the fateful events of the future cannot be avoided after all.
Battle is definitely the worst of the five apes films but compared to most low-budget sci-fi shlock I've seen, it's really not as bad as it's made out to be, but judged against the superior standard set precedent by the first film it is a quite a disappointment. In addition to the restored scenes, there are few highlights that make the film worth at least a viewing if you have enjoyed watching the other films in this series at all. Of particular interest are the sets of the melted down post-apocalyptic Forbidden City that are just visually interesting to look at, even if the obvious matte paintings were composited into the background. It gives the film a future-coda feel in a way that evokes images of James Cameron's The Terminator but pre-dates it over a decade. If nothing else, Battle was at least influential in inspiring other science fiction films in the genre and was the template for subsequent franchises and was more than influential to George Lucas and his Star Wars mega-merchandising empire that would follow only a few years later and the Planet of the Apes series would forever be buried under its apocalypse and reside in the realm of Saturday afternoon and late-night television broadcasts.
The Wrath of Caesar!
In Escape From the Planet of the Apes, Cornelius and Zira arrived from the future and had a child, one who was destined to destroy the future of human civilization. To protect her child from human treachery, the baby chimpanzee was switched with a normal zoo chimp by his mother, and grew up under the protection of his benevolent human master Armando, the extravagant sideshow circus entertainer ironically played by Ricardo Montalban from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Having been given a taste of freedom by the compassionate Armando, the talking simian chimpanzee Caesar (played by Roddy MacDowall who had the unique opportunity to play the son of his character Cornelius) becomes disillusioned when Armando brings him into the city only to learn that his ape brothers and sisters have become "domesticated" after a plague brought back from space in the year 1983 wiped out every dog and cat on the planet. Because of their adept intelligence and human-like faculties, the apes quickly became trained to serve their "superior" human masters. In 1991, human civilization is controlled by an oppressive authoritarian government fearful that a race of talking apes will inevitably rise up and destroy human civilization as foretold by the arrival of Cornelius and Zira.
Now the apes have supplanted humans as working class slaves distinguished by the two dominant ape species... the smarter chimpanzees wearing green worker overalls and the stronger and more aggressive gorillas in red, not unlike the delineation between white and blue collar human laborers. When Armando and the son of Cornelius witness a cruel public display of torture against a helpless ape worker, the emotionally enraged talking simian lets loose his tongue and makes the fatal mistake of publicly shouting out an obscenity against the human oppressors. Armando, accepting the responsibility for the outcry, is taken into custody for questioning after he helps Caesar flee capture. The fugitive ape conceals himself by infiltrating a cage of "immigrant" ape orangutangs imported from Indonesia and is taken to a worker conditioning center where apes are harshly trained to become subservient to human domination. He is soon sold at a slave auction to the Governor's assistant MacDonald, who ironically is an Afro-American. MacDonald brings him before the Governor, played by the melodramatically camp Don Murray, who suspects that he is indeed the talking ape that they are searching for and is given the opportunity to name himself by choosing a name randomly from a book. The intelligent ape points to a name which not only surprises but confirms the Governor's suspicion and thus, Caesar is born.
Caesar is put to work in an operations center where he can be closely monitored. When Caesar overhears that his master Armando was killed trying to flee interrogation, he becomes outraged and communicates non-verbally with his ape brethren to be defiant against their masters and the seeds of discontent are sown. Caesar organizes the apes into an uprising against their human captors that erupts into a full-blown ape revolt akin to Che Gorilla --- a sly reference to the Cuban revolutionary guerrilla leader Che Guevara for which Caesar emblematically bares an uncanny symbolic resemblance to and has even been parodied as such in pop-culture. Roddy MacDowall gives a rousing and unforgettable dramatic performance that surpasses his characterization of Cornelius in the three previous Ape films. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes explodes into a riotous and violent action packed climax that inevitably sets the stage for the entire Apes Saga and the birth of The Planet of the Apes.
Conquest is the fourth film in the series and it is my second favorite. It is brutally violent and was the first Apes film to earn a PG rating after explicit scenes of graphic violence were cut. I would love to see an uncut version released on DVD. It is filled with so many socio-political themes that are just as relevant (if not more so) today as they were back in 1972. While the ape revolt was patterned directly after the 1965 Los Angeles Watts Riots, it could easily parallel the racial Alabama and Chicago civil protest riots of the 50's and 60's or the L.A. riots of the 90's. It's themes of working class oppression not dissimilar to the current issue of Immigration Reform which saw demonstrations of protest in major cities across the country by tens of thousands of immigrant workers who perform low-paying laborious and menial jobs that middle-class American workers think are socially beneath themselves by right of entitlement, as exemplified by the scene where Caesar witnesses the temperament of a snobbish blonde woman having her hair done in a salon by a chimp named Zelda and throws a tantrum when she messes it up which just nails the self-centered materialistic attitudes of our upper and middle social classes perfectly. The Government is portrayed as oppressive and paranoid and is an interesting examination of how the need for social constructs like Ape Management (i.e. Homeland Security) can easily deteriorate into an oppressive state of authoritarian control. Conquest is a political-charged cautionary allegory of how society breeds contempt. Viva la Revolution!
Paradox of the Apes
Following the cataclysmic finale of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, there was only one logical direction for the series to go---> back to the future. The result is an illogically conceived and satirical prequel that will amuse and delight and ultimately devastate with its bleak Shakesperean tragedy.
When Taylor's spacecraft unexpectedly splashes down in 1973 and is retrieved by a military envoy, the three astronauts that emerge from the capsule are not revealed to be Taylor, Landon and Dodge, but rather the astonishing simian ape-chimps Cornelius, Zira and Milo... the third of which is a completely disposable character who is appropriately killed off very early by a caged zoo gorilla who was probably jealous that the talking simian chimpanzees were getting all of the attention. With Milo out of the picture, the story focuses on the relationship between Cornelius and Zira in ways that were not afforded the opportunity in the two previous films and is filled with tongue-in-cheek episodes inspired by Pierre Boulle's original novel as Cornelius and Zira go around "aping" 20th century human culture (a subtle and clever mockery of our own) in an attempt to make themselves fit in to our society.
While Cornelius and Zira make themselves at home as cultural "celebrities" they are being carefully monitored under the watchful auspices of the nefarious Dr. Otto Hasslein played by recognizable character actor Eric Braeden (of Young and the Restless fame) who listens with great interest to what the talking chimps have to say about where they came from during a Presidential Inquiry and how they managed to arrive in Taylor's spacecraft as Cornelius explains that the capsule was found when it washed ashore and was repaired by Milo -- an implausibility which is the film's glaring continuity error since Taylor's spacecraft sunk into the depths of the Forbidden Zone it is a far fetched conclusion that they somehow managed to not only find, retrieve and repair it (even if they had repaired Astronaut Brent's crashed spacecraft from Beneath which was overlooked as well) with engineering far in advance of their own intellectual ape intelligence (which Milo only "half-understood" as Cornelius describes it) but managed to do so and escape within a very small window of time before the planet was obliterated by the shock-wave of destruction catapulting them backwards in time and arriving at roughly the same destination and era as Taylor's original point of departure (it could be argued that these narrative inconsistencies support evidence of "Hasslein's Observed Time Curve" which suggest that a predestination paradox created alternate intersecting timelines as illustrated by the incongruent timeline of events between Conquest and Battle). Nevertheless, once you get past the major plot hole and just go with it, Escape is a fun and dramatically intense film but is my least favorite second only to the weakest link in the evolutionary Apes chain; Battle For The Planet of the Apes.
When Zira announces that she is pregnant, the film takes a dark and conspiratorial turn when the government realizes the consequence a race of intelligent talking apes will have on the future of our human society. In an effort to protect their newborn, Cornelius and Zira find refuge with Armando, a sideshow circus entertainer played by the extravagant Ricardo Montalban who gladly welcomes the simian family with open arms, but it isn't long before Dr. Otto Hasslein picks up the fugitives' trail and hunts them down in a tragic and inevitable climax that sets up the paradox of the entire Planet of the Apes chronology.
After the spellbinding revelation of the original Planet of the Apes, the sequel (and subsequent sequels in the landmark series) seemed critically doomed to suffer from substandard mediocrity in the wake of its apocalyptic aftermath, yet Beneath the Planet of the Apes endures as one of the most reverent science fiction films among faithful fans of the series. A seriously flawed, yet brilliantly misunderstood masterpiece that remains as an important testament to behold. What could not be topped by Planet of the Apes' unappeasable climax, could only be subverted by going beneath it... literally.
After Charlton Heston compromised with producers to only briefly reprise his role as Taylor in the sequel, James Franciscus takes the lead as Astronaut Brent. While Franciscus gives a very strong and worthwhile performance, his character still suffers at the expense of being a poor-man's Taylor. The first half of the film reiterates a lot of the exposition of the first film to bring Brent's character up to speed as he travels with the beautiful Linda Harrison as the mute slave Nova into the Forbidden Zone to find Taylor who mysteriously vanished into a mirage at the beginning of the film. As Brent and Nova begin their descent beneath the subterranean caverns of a post-apocalyptic city, the film takes a much darker and cerebral turn that is both disturbingly bizarre and brutally nihilistic. Brent, while under the telepathic mind-control of the under-dwelling society of mutated humans, shockingly tries to kill innocent Nova... twice. The malevolent Mutants reveal themselves to be a cult of hideously deformed worshipers of an atomic bomb who give praise to its awesome destructive power at an eerie mass in their tabernacle as they prepare for the inevitable confrontation against the surface-dwelling Simians who have ruled over the planet ever since it was ravaged by the inferno of nuclear holocaust two thousand years prior and the final battle for control of the Planet of the Apes will be determined by its prophetic Earth-shattering outcome.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes detonates with a shock-wave of suspense that reached its apotheosis at the end of the first film and radiates unstoppably towards an inexorable conclusion at the end of the second. A brilliantly twisted and hauntingly cerebral sequel which may have proved itself to have been too intense and intellectual for its G-rated audience who were simply engrossed by the film's adventurous fantasy and captivated by the ape-like wonder of its characters. It would be almost impossible today for a major studio to gamble on making what was considered to be a franchise-killing installment because of its powerfully subversive imagery and socio-political narrative which ironically gives Beneath its characteristically unique dynamic not only as a worthy and important follow-up to its classic predecessor, but a relevant and enduring testament of historic science fiction cinema.