Two films on our now-regular Thursday night. Wonderfully, no need to work around limited 2D showings as both films are being shown in NormalVision. We weren’t sure what to expect from either film – which is usually a good thing.
Plot-in-a-nutshell: kids stumble upon USAF plot and fight the military might.
See it if you like: the idea of E.T. eating people
First up – Super 8Â is not a kids’ film. Young adults, maybe, but definitely not the real youngsters. It’s a little grisly in places and it’s a monster film with lots of dark moments, violence and sudden shocks. On the other hand, this does mean that adults should get a really enjoyable ride out of it.
The film focuses around a bunch of school kids who are making a zombie film for a competition. During one of their late-night filming escapades, however, they witness a bit of a disaster and their town suddenly gets filled with USAF personnel who seem to be rather secretive about why, apart from the fact that everything is OK. Of course it is.
The aforementioned disaster is an incredible near-opening sequence and very loud indeed. Actually, the military sequences towards the end with tanks and things are also great. As are the smaller scene-setting moments. Oh, hell, the whole thing’s really well made.
J.J.Abrams has really harked back to the kiddie-films of the 80’s (Super 8Â is set in 1979) and taken the general feel, while making the effects and story more suitable for a modern-day audience. The kids bicker amongst themselves, the adults don’t listen to them, the clothes are dodgy, the technology is huge and bulky… it does look the part. However, the special effects make it very much a film for the moment.
Credit must also go to the cast which includes a lot of first-timers. Joel Courtney plays Joe, our central character who develops a crush on Alice (Elle Fanning, Dakota’sÂ sister). She, incidentally, is superb. Keep an eye on her.
This was a brilliant bit of entertainment. Huge explosions, great character interaction, a well-written story, nasty military types, impressive cast. Perfect popcorn movie.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
“Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!”
Plot-in-a-nutshell: How did the world become as it did in (bother versions of) The Planet of the Apes?
See it if you like: animal-centric effects-filled movies that make you think a little bit. And prequels.
The trailer for this looked awful. Preachy, naff, and unoriginal. Sack the person who made it, please, as it almost made me decide not to bother. And I’d have missed a bloody good film as a result.
Hark back, if you will, to the Charlton Heston-starring original film (and ignore the Grud-awful remake from a few years ago). We all know the astronauts return to earth from their Mars mission (which is mentioned briefly a couple of times during this movie), but how did the planet become run by apes in the meantime? Well, the next two hours will let you know.
James Franco plays Will Rodman, a genetic scientist hell bent on curing Alzheimer’s as it’s destroying his father (John Lithgow). Experiments on chimpanzees are par for the course, but when one particularly important showcase goes awfully wrong, the project is brought to a halt and the apes destroyed. All but one, which he takes home and raises.
This chimp, Caesar – as referred to all that time ago in the original film – is played by the master of mime Andy Serkis and it’s really his story. From a secreted life to being “outed” and realising exactly how badly humans will treat animals, we see a lot through his eyes as he develops intellectually at a pace far outstripping an equivalent human.
The film has two distinct parts – the emotional side focussing on Caesar’s growth and the family environment he is within, and the more science fiction part featuring brain-repairing viruses and apes that can communicate and problem-solve well beyond their abilities. The scripting, though, merges these two elements perfectly so you are very much watching one engaging film and not two disparate selves as was the case with The Zookeeper.
The effects are stunning as are the costumes for the close-ups. It is genuinely quite tricky to tell when you’re watching a real ape, a person in a costume and a figment of a computer’s imagination.
As for the ending – X-Men 3Â can take its Golden Gate finalÃ© and shove it. RotPotA’s knocks it for six.
The story is veryÂ similar to Michael Crichton’s Next, which I really didn’t enjoy due to its overly-preachy nature. This film runs with similar ideas but is much better written and engaging. Far, far better than I was expecting.