Cinema City Film Quiz #53

[28 August 2011]

Winning Team:
Cowboys & Aliens Vs Predator

Genre – Harrowing McG sci-fi mash up

Runners Up:
Royale With Cheese
Genre – Pulpy orange flick
Pulp Friction
Genre – The erotic adventures of a fruit juicer
Le Big Mac Adventure
Genre – Jules and Vincent buddy movie set in France
Death Hoof
Genre – A manic deer goes mental for the kills
Thrill Will
Genre – Training movie for Kate (when prepping for the honeymoon)

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1 In Planet Of The Apes, what type of animal evolved as the dominant species?
2. Was the role of Tony Montana in Scarface played by Al Pacino or Robert De Niro?
3. Marilyn Monroe’s hair was famous for being what colour?
4. Who plays Truman Burbank in The Truman Show?
5. What are the subtitles of the four Indiana Jones films (one point per correct answer)
6. What is the name of the composer who scored Star Wars, Jaws and Superman?
7. Which musician played the goblin king in Labyrinth? [bonus point for stating what animal he morphs into]
8. What does Jack use to get into the hotel bathroom in The Shining?
9. Who play the two lead roles in Wild Wild West? (one point per correct answer)
10. Who directed Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein and Spaceballs?
11. What is the name of the character played by Brad Pitt in Interview With The Vampire?
LOUIS (Louis De Pointe Du Lac)
12. Kinky Boots is set in which British town?

ROUND II: Filming [Quentin Tarantino Special]
1. What was the title of Quentin Tarantino’s debut film?
2. What colour is Uma Thurman’s tracksuit in Kill Bill? [bonus point for naming the Bruce Lee film it references]
YELLOW [Game Of Death]
3. At the start of Pulp Fiction, Vincent Vega has just returned from which European city?
4. What is Jackie Brown’s job?
5. What is the logo on Stuntman Mike’s bonnet in Death Proof?
6. What precious stone is being stolen in Reservoir Dogs?
7. What drink does Hans Landa sample at Perrier LaPadite’s home in Inglourious Basterds?
8. Who plays ATF agent, Ray Nicolette in Jackie Brown?
9. The passage that Jules quotes in Pulp Fiction is from which book of the bible?
10. What is the name of the stunt that the girls perform in Death Proof?
11. What is the name of the swordmaker in the Kill Bill films?
12. Adam Sandler was originally cast as Donny Donowitz in Inglourious Basterds, before scheduling conflicts forced him out. True or False

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. Alfred Hitchcock directed twelve silent films. Name two. (one point per correct answer)
2. The words Klendathu, Roughnecks and Ibanez are used heavily in which film?
3. What is the title of the 1987 Arthur Hiller film starring Bette Middler and Shelley Long?
4. What is the name of the instructional manual frequently referenced in Beetlejuice?
5. Who directed The Sugarland Express, Always and Amistad?
6. What are the names of the four lead characters of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels? (one point per correct answer)
7. Cocktails first, questions later was the poster tagline for which 1996 film?
8. Which of the three lead actors in The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert plays the role of Mitzi Del Bra?
9. Throughout Leone’s dollar trilogy, the Man With No Name, uses the same pistols with what animal on the grip?
10. How old does Bill The Butcher claim to be in Gangs Of New York?
11. What does BPRD stand for in Hellboy?
12. The Rocketeer is set in which year?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. What type of god is The Wicker Man constructed as an offering for? Sun god? God of fruit? Harvest god?
2. In The Fall, which letter on the morphine bottle does Alexandria not recognise? M? R? E? [bonus point for stating what she confuses it with]
E [3]
3. Which of the following actors has not played Beethoven? Ed Harris? Gary Oldman? Daniel Day Lewis?
4. What subject does Brackett (Kevin Kline) teach in the 90s comedy, In & Out? English Literature? French Poetry? German Philosophy? [bonus point for director]
ENG LIT [Frank Oz]
5. “You stay. We belong dead” was a quote from which Universal monster film? Bride Of Frankenstein? The Mummy? Creature From The Black Lagoon?
6. Which 1979 film, starring David Hasselhoff and Christopher Plummer featured the quotes, “Time for a little robot chauvinism” and “Computer, stop the flow of time!”? Beneath The Valley Of The Ultra-Vixens? The Muppet Movie? Starcrash?
7. What is the name of the fast food restaurant that Lester works for, in American Beauty? Smileys? Happy Burger? Jesters?
8. In 2012, Woman In Black will be first Hammer Horror release in how many years? 41? 39? 36?
THIRTY SIX (To The Devil A Daughter 1976)
9. Before classic kung fu fight sequences, actors are coated in a layer of dust, what is this known as in the industry? Fun powder? Pixie dust? Sugar coating?
10. Who directed Bad Lieutenant? Anthony Redman? Edward Pressman? Abel Ferrara?
11. How much does Marion steal at the start of Psycho? $30,000? $35,000? $40,000?
12. Poster printing techniques in the late thirties were unable to capture Vivien Leigh’s violet eyes, so they often vary between green or blue in promotional images for Gone With The Wind. True or False?


Enter An Age Undreamed Of

Marcus Nispel

Jason Momoa
Stephen Lang
Rachel Nichols
Rose McGowan
Ron Perlman

Conan’s a hard one to gauge. For all its flaws and disregard for the original R.E. Howard stories, the 1982 Conan The Barbarian is an enjoyable fantasy and one that has a loyal cult following. With this reboot, Howard fans were given a glimpse of hope that an extremely loyal, graphically violent adaptation would be filmed – not dissimilar to HBO’s treatment of Game Of Thrones. Unfortunately, this is far from the case. I left the cinema feeling relatively positive, happy to award this film a middle-of-the-road five out of ten but as the sheer wealth of inadequacies really soaked in, my opinion altered significantly.

Set in the fantasy realm of.. wait, no, it’s an age, right? Whatever, in the Hyborian era/place, a young barbarian is born on a battlefield, through a rushed caesarean. Before dying, his mother names him Conan and his father raises him aloft and cries out, “Myahhhhhh!” Which probably signifies something. Years later, the impetuous Conan displays more grace, skill and talent than other children several years older than him; this is highlighted when the boys are given a task, only to be ambushed midway through (kind of like boy scouts getting mobbed by zombie Nazis). While the others flea, Conan runs head first into battle and dispatches the seasoned warriors before proudly returning their heads to his village. Recognising the child has skill (or just happens to be a vicious nutbag), his father [Perlman] teaches Conan the ways of steel, the only thing their tribe truly worships. Before he can complete his training, the village is ambushed by the warlord, Khalar Zym [Lang], who is searching for the last piece of a mask that will enable him to control the world. Conan and his father are left to die (*spoiler* Conan survives, his dad doesn’t) while Zym rides off with the completed mask. Only it’s not complete. Apparently, it needs the blood of the last surviving heir to some bloodline to activate it. So, the narrative jumps a good ten or fifteen years forward by way of a black screen and Morgan Freeman basically saying “Then Conan did some stuff but we don’t have the time or the budget to show you”. It would seem Conan’s [Momoa] been travelling, looking for those responsible for the death of his people and Zym’s been looking for the ‘pureblood’, neither of whom appear to be doing a good job about it, even though the answers seem obvious: evil guy killed everyone in your village? That’ll be the evil king then. Airy-fairy virgin pureblood? She’ll be at that airy-fairy virgin monastery. Anyway, Conan meets up with pureblood girl [Nichols] and uses her to get to Zym and his crazy half-human half-witch daughter [McGowan].

Despite the flak he will no doubt receive, I thought Jason Momoa did a reasonably decent job of portraying Conan – if only because Conan is a really easy character to portray. Granted, he was better as Khal Drogo and his guttural mumblings were often indecipherable but at least he acted the part. Additionally, Stephen Lang’s venomous performance (Col. Quaritch with different scars) as Zym was pretty on the mark. Everyone else? Campy as hell. An unbearable sea of gurning faces and pointlessly exposed breasts – this coming from the guy who tweeted the live #GameOfThronesBoobCount is saying something. At times the CGI is fairly impressive, largely when dealing with the fantastical back-drops and landscapes, as was the production value on things like sets and costumes. Despite this, the whole thing lacks the truly epic scale it so desperately needs.

But the biggest flaw holding this entire film back is the hideously sloppy editing. I don’t know if Ken Blackwell didn’t know what he was doing or if there was footage missing but it’s genuinely impossible to follow at times. If the shaky-cam, erratic fight sequences aren’t disorientating enough, the action leaps ahead, feeling like you’ve missed a few strikes or shots – God help you if you watch this in 3D. For example, during the ‘Dweller’ scene, some aquatic beastie reaches it’s tentacles through the grated floor and wildly attacks anyone and anything; except Conan. The dude is standing in the centre of the room, seemingly unable to tell what’s going on, just ducking and waving his arms around but not really attacking anything, simply observing the events. Additionally, there’s no real development for any of the characters, nothing driving them bar vengeance and ‘someone told me to’. This isn’t helped by the fact that the entire population are seemingly incapable of expressing anything outside of the terrible terrible terrible one-liners. In the ’82 version, the dialogue was fine but Arnie’s delivery made it hilarious, here it’s absurd and accent or not, it conveys nothing. Finally, there’s the typically horrific, forced score from the typically mercurial Tyler Bates and the abysmally anti-climactic writing; every conflict, every plot thread seemingly goes nowhere. Prime example, the big (what you would presume to be magic-filled) finale, Zym has the completed mask and the blood, about to release unlimited power and all he does is try to summon his dead wife – the mask literally does nothing! There’s a half-arsed fight but that’s it! Painful!

There are worse films and all-in-all, I managed to sit through the entire thing without grumbling too much but ultimately, it’s just a waste and upon discovery that the entire thing was made for around ninety million dollars, my heart sank a little. That’s just depressing.

Release Date:
26th August 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
There are a handful of standout moments that actually surprise you – probably because they are watered-down elements of Howard’s original stories. Whilst interrogating the high priest or head monk or whatever, Zym enquires why they refuse to answer. The monk replies that they value life and so cannot assist a man who would destroy it. Zym calmly explains that the monk is mistaken, that his wife was hunted down and persecuted before he watched her burn to death, someone who truly values life would be incapable of such an act. It’s actually a moment of sole poignancy in a mess of swords and blood, which proves had more of this been injected, we’d have an all together stronger story.

Notable Characters:
Aside from the annoying, easily dispatched lieutenants and the impish friends Conan makes along the way, few annoyed me more than Rachel Nichols as Tamara. As an actress, I find her boring, as a character, I found her role despicably cliché and as a plot device, she was serviceable only as the surprisingly ballsy warrior chick who Conan uses to find Zym. Oh, and the sex scene. God damn I hated that. I really do hate sex scenes on film. People moan about unrealistic action or humorous setups that go too far, well for me, sex scenes are the worst offender. They’re the laziest developments and usually the worst filmed section of the film, primarily because they’re completely ridiculous. Yeah, you heard. Unless you’re making a genuine statement with it, sex scenes are ridiculous – knock it off.

Highlighted Quote:
“I live, I love, I slay and I am content”

In A Few Words:
“An uninspired cross between Game Of Thrones and The Scorpion King let down most by atrocious editing a thoroughly messy script”

Total Score:



First Contact, Last Stand

Jon Favreau

Daniel Craig
Harrison Ford
Olivia Wilde
Sam Rockwell
Clancy Brown

Cowboys And Aliens opens in the middle of a desert in 1870s New Mexico. A nameless individual [Craig] suddenly jolts awake, franticly begins to analyse his surroundings and after a few minutes, notices a metal bracelet firmly attached to his left wrist. Following a few unsuccessful attempts to detach it, the man becomes distinctly aware of three riders approaching behind him. In an instant, all three men lay unconscious or dead and the stranger suits up and heads to the nearest town. Upon arrival, he meets with a straight-talking preacher [Brown], who stitches up a half-cauterised wound on the stranger’s torso. The stranger then subdues a local rancher’s son only to be recognised by the local Sheriff as wanted outlaw, Jake Lonergan, who locks both men up. Word gets out to the rancher (the only man with any real power or money in town), Woodrow Dolarhyde [Ford], that not only has his son been imprisoned but the man who stole a caravan of gold from him has been arrested too. Dolarhyde rides into town and confronts the Sheriff but before any arrangement can be made, the town is blitzed by a torrent of fire from flying metal ships. Curiously enough, the only thing that can even make a scratch on the attackers is the bracelet clasped to Lonergan’s wrist. With half the town’s folk abducted, the remainder form up a posse and start tracking the origin of the strange craft. Oh and an extremely out-of-place lady [Wilde], armed with a holstered pistol and anachronistic attitude joins up with them.. best not to ask why. Now, I’ve only read a brief synopsis of the 2006 comic and this whole story doesn’t strike me as even remotely close; the only real similarity is the presence of aliens in a Western environment. And with so many contributing studios, producers and writers – all of whom were probably sold on the one-sheet concept, as opposed to the story or the characters – it’s hardly surprising.

Alright, there are three main flaws with this film but they are so fundamental that they more than justify such a low overall score. First off, the performances were all-round terrible; it was like the film of a thousand hollow expressions. The only two individuals who managed to escape with any credibility were Clancy Brown (more on that below) and Sam Rockwell, whose talents were utterly wasted. I suppose the actors aren’t wholly to blame, as their pointless characters were given such cliché and predictable motivations that there was no room to develop any real charm or personality to any of them. Secondly, the aliens were pretty shit. Their hand-to-hand attacks on the human fodder were strangely graphic for a movie rated 12a but due to the shaky-cam and censored framing (essentially to hide anything too grisly) all you could really make out was their inferior design and sub-par CGI. Finally, the writing was pretty dire, sprouting painfully lazy developments: magic Indian juice made me remember stuff, problem solved; you were the son I never had but you’re dead now so I can reprogram the crap son I’ve got, problem solved; leave your high-tech alien weaponry beside me while you perform surgery on me, yoink, problem solved; I’m dying, oh wait, nope, I’m good, problem solved! On top of that, in the heat of a frantic, completely unwinnable battle, there was still time for a tender moment, evidently enough to infuse the previously ineffective Colts and Winchesters with.. I dunno, determination or something, to kill the aliens with one hit. So we have awful acting, cheap looking computer-generated antagonists and sloppy writing – the perfect combination for any cash-hosed summer crap fest.

From a technical perspective, there’s a great deal about this film that actually works quite well. For example, the action sequences are perfectly reasonable albeit still rather underwhelming; Harry Gregson-Williams’ score was equally fitting, neatly combining the typical period guitar picking with pounding orchestral stings; and an entire wealth of praise should be awarded to Favreau for insisting that a Western has no business being filmed or edited in 3D. Also, to offset the potential hammy/campness of the film (and there are several opportunities that could have been exploited in such a way), the whole thing is shot straight. “Aliens, you say? Sure, why not.” For this reason, the Western element is quite impressive, especially in the opening twenty minutes – I personally found the scene in which a drunken Percy Dolarhyde [Paul Dano] starts shooting up the town, more tense than the finale. Unfortunately, what you’re left with is a well-crafted Western with a tacky alien element flimsily bolted on.

I’ve seen a lot of reviewers complain that the two genres simply don’t cross, that trying to match them up felt forced and, to a certain degree, they have a point. However, if you’ve seen Joss Whedon’s Firefly or Serenity, you’ll know just how wrong that statement is (in the right hands, of course). By taking the principal characters, values and pioneering aspects out of Westerns and into space, the pairing seems completely natural but by forcing one into the other, we basically end up with Wild Wild West trying to take itself seriously.

Release Date:
19th August 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Spoilerific plot points within**
Ok, so one of the big twists is that Olivia Wilde’s character is in fact some sort of alien (ooooooooh) but the way we discover this is fucking absurd. Wounded by an alien attack, Jake carries.. whatever her name is.. Ella, through the desert but she still dies. Then they’re captured by Indians and facing death when one of the tribe throw Ella’s body onto a fire. Two minutes later after a great deal of swirling lights, she somehow manages to regenerate, stark naked and bleat a substantial amount of exposition. It’s pretty stupid but the most annoying part was the fact that she says, “I wanted to tell you but I didn’t know if I could heal this form” You didn’t know? Well, good thing chucking you on a pyre worked out grand!

Notable Characters:
As stated earlier, Clancy Brown does a really stand-out job with his grizzled, gun-wielding preacher, only to be killed off in the first quarter. Granted, Sam Rockwell did well with what he had to work with but killing off the best character, leaving us with an invincible loyalty-switching dog and that bloody kid from The Last Airbender? Lame.

Highlighted Quote:
“Get this through your thick Indian skull: those stories were for my son, not you”

In A Few Words:
“Trite affair that sullies a potentially half-decent Western with a ridiculous, underwhelming science fiction element”

Total Score:


Cinema City Film Quiz #52

[14 August 2011]

Winning Team:
Homage Frais

Genre – Harrowing Tale Of Film Referencing Biffidus Culture

Runners Up:
Do The Riot Thing
Genre – Gritty urban drama about the rise of the white underclass – A David Starkey Joint
Nicotene Patch Adams
Genre – Very annoying tale of a hairy doctor with a nasty habit
True Git
Genre – The shocking true story of a team who gave their grumpy quiz-master hell for a bad score; he now wears an eye-patch
Debunking Llama Vs Cranky Falcon
Genre – Giant animal conspiracy thriller/rom-com in eye-popping Real 3D
Cries Of The Planet Of The Grapes
Genre – James Franco goes on a trip to a vineyard that turns horribly sour
Cowboys Vs Smurfs
Genre – Indiana Jones and James Bond find love amidst an invasion of small blue squeaky things

ROUND I: Pre-Production
1. What was the name of the lead law enforcer in Judge Dredd?
2. What does ET stand for? [bonus point for correct spelling]
3. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy is based on the novels of the same name by which author?
4. Of Jackie Brown’s three leads (Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster), which had previously starred in a Tarantino film?
5. The events in The Queen focus on the death of which figure?
6. Who played the title role in Lawrence Of Arabia?
7. What was the subtitle of the Bridget Jones’ Diary sequel?
8. What was the name of the killer in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre?
9. In what year was Outbreak released?
10. What was the name of the character played by Ben Stiller in Dodgeball?
11. “It’s a mad house, a mad house!” and “You maniacs! You blew it up!” are quotes from which movie?
12. In Sister Act, Deloris Van Cartier is a lounge singer in which US city? [bonus point for the name Deloris takes while hiding]
RENO [Sister Mary Clarence]

ROUND II: Filming [Characters With Eye-Patches Special]
1. Which of the following films does not feature a character with an eye-patch? Iron Man 2? 300? Bambi?
2. Which character in the Kill Bill films, wore an eye-patch?
3. In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, General Chang frequently quotes which playwright?
4. Mattie Ross, Ned Pepper and Rooster Cogburn are all characters in which film?
5. Which of the following did not star in Valkyrie? Terence Stamp? Robert Duvall? Eddie Izzard?
6. Which actor has a posthumous performance in Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow?
7. Who directed this year’s Marvel release, Thor?
8. The entire plot of The Eagle Has Landed centres around the capture of which World War II figure?
9. In which Pirates Of The Caribbean films does one of the main-supports don an eye-patch? [bonus point for naming the character]
10. In which 1968 film did Bette Davis wear an eye-patch?
11. How many kids make up The Goonies? [bonus point for each character named]
SEVEN [Mikey / Mouth / Data / Chunk / Brand / Andy / Stef]
12. The studio didn’t think Kurt Russell was right for the role of Snake Plissken, in Escape From New York, and insisted John Carpenter screen test Tommy Lee Jones. True or False?

ROUND III: Post-Production
1. What was Disney’s 27th animated feature film, released in 1988?
2. What colour is the ink on Dreyman manuscript, in The Lives Of Others? [two bonus points for naming the title of Dreyman’s novel at the end of the film]
RED [Sonate vom Guten Mensch / Sonata For A Good Man]
3. Why does Mendoza become depressed (and subsequently agrees to accompany Gabriel), in The Mission?
4. At Robbie’s wedding, in The Wedding Singer, a string quartet is playing which song by Journey?
5. Which three actresses play Rachel, Charlotte and Kate Flax in 1990’s Mermaids? (one point per correct answer)
6. Who directed 1945’s Brief Encounter?
7. In The Game, Michael Douglas plays a wealthy banker in which US city? [bonus point for naming the director]
SAN FRANCISCO [David Fincher]
8. What is the name of Johnny Casper’s hitman, played by J.E. Freeman in Miller’s Crossing? [bonus point for naming the actor who plays his lover]
EDDIE DANE / THE DANE [Steve Buscemi]
9. In Rocky IV, how does Rocky respond when Ivan Drago says, “I must break you”
10. Which actor appeared in Forrest Gump, The Sixth Sense and Second Hand Lions?
11. The Duellists was which director’s debut release?
12. Dooley Wilson (who plays Sam in Casablanca) was a musician but couldn’t actually play the piano. What instrument did he play professionally?

ROUND IV: Promotion & Release
1. The Long Good Friday was the feature debut for which future James Bond? Timothy Dalton? Pierce Brosnan? Daniel Craig?
2. Which Federico Fellini film was released in 1960? La Dolce Vita? La Strada? 8 1/2?
3. What was the name of Alec Guinness’ character in The Lavender Hill Mob? Henry Holland? Alfred Pendlebury? Shorty Fisher?
4. Equilibrium was largely filmed in which European city? Paris? Berlin? Rome?
5. What number follows Logan’s name in Logan’s Run? 5? 6? 7?
6. The ultimate in alien terror was the poster tagline for which film? Alien 3? Predator? The Thing?
7. Hush.. Hush, Sweet Charlotte was nominated for seven academy awards. How many did it win? None? Three? Six?
8. Who played Frank White in King Of New York? Christopher Walken? Harvey Keitel? Robert De Niro?
9. Which of the following sketches did not feature in Monty Python’s Meaning Of Life? Fighting Each Other? Live Organ Transplants? Self Defence Against Fresh Fruit?
10. Who co-starred with Jerry Lewis in Sailor Beware? Frank Sinatra? Dean Martin? Tony Curtis? [bonus point for the year the film was released]
11. Which of Woody Allen’s films was the first to be shot completely outside of New York? Celebrity? Bananas? Love And Death?
12. John Singleton’s Oscar nomination for best director of Boyz N The Hood meant he beat Orson Welles to youngest nominee. True or False?


Evolution Becomes Revolution

Rupert Wyatt

Andy Serkis
James Franco
Freida Pinto
John Lithgow

I’ve got to say, 2011 is starting to feel a lot like 1999; we’re just over half-way through the year and we’ve already had a wealth of successful cinematic releases. The law of averages can be interpreted to state that with all these dire remakes and reboots, you’re going to stumble across a handful that actually work. I never would have assumed that a revisit of Planet Of The Apes would produce anything other than mediocre dross – thank you, Burton – but Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is an incredibly intelligent and emotional tale albeit with a few discernable flaws.

Will Rodman [Franco] is a research scientist working with chimps on an experimental drug which he believes should cure Alzheimer’s. After one particular test subject shows great potential, he takes the formula to the board, in the hope they will approve human trials. Unfortunately, the subject in question, Bright Eyes, behaves erratically before running rampant in the lab and eventually being put down. Will’s boss, Steven Jacobs [David Oyelowo], shuts down the project and orders Will to terminate and dispose of all the chimps; in doing so, it is revealed that Bright Eyes’ behaviour was solely defensive, as she was attempting to protect her newborn infant. With little choice, Will is forced to bring the infant home. Over the following days, Will’s father, Charles [Lithgow], dubs the young ape Caesar [Serkis] and notices a fascinating advanced learning ability, which Will believes was inherited from its mother. Three years pass and Caesar proves to be an exceptionally gifted creature. Unfortunately, Will keeps running into dead ends for trialling his drug and witnessing the deterioration of his father, smuggles out a few vials and administers them to Charles. Another five years pass, Will enters into a relationship with veterinarian chimp expert, Caroline Aranha [Pinto] and despite positive treatment, Charles’ antibodies are now fighting the drug. Following a particularly disorientating episode, Charles is pushed around by his neighbour, Caesar reacts aggressively and Will is forced to send him away to an enclosure for primates. From here on, Will works tirelessly trying to perfect the drug and Caesar has immense difficulty adapting to life with other chimps and the cruel treatment under the facility owners.

**Hinted spoiler in the last few sentences**
Once you take into account this film is more a tale of oppression than smart monkeys running wild, the choice for Rupert Wyatt as director becomes clearer – primarily for the fact that his debut release was a well-received prison break flick. What we have here is a decent story built on a strong emotional base (to ensure audiences empathise with the eventual uprising) and subsequently, under all the glamorous effects, a rather touching tale of independence. Speaking of the visual effects, they are thoroughly impressive and ensuring the only chimps on-screen are CGI was an incredibly smart move – the easiest way to shatter the illusion of your creation is a direct comparison with the real thing. The other technical aspects are equally noteworthy, from Patrick Doyle’s evocative score to the keen camera work and overall direction. There has been a great deal of online bitching since the film’s release in the States, complaining that we don’t see apes taking over the world and fighting some epic global battle but we don’t really need that. By creating characters that don’t kill unreservedly and implying that mankind will wipe themselves out accidentally seems more fitting than the ‘epic war’ scenario perpetuated throughout the originals.

From the outset, it is evident that this story hinges on the success of the ape element.. and succeed it does, exceptionally well. Serkis’ performance and the immersive computer-generated imagery are highly praiseworthy but with such a strong focus on the oppressive treatment of Caesar and his fellow apes, the human side of the story quickly falls away. What starts off as a series of diverse supports for the development of the Caesar character, quickly degenerate into stereotypical filler: the relationship between Will and Caroline seemingly goes nowhere, Jacobs abandons all commendable attributes after the pursuit of money and the jerk neighbour continues to be a jerk. Adding to the lack of the human character exploration, we are supposed to believe that a.) the events that take place on-screen span eight years but not one character appears to age a single day and b.) despite being around Caesar for five years, not to mention being a certified primate expert and enthusiast, Caroline never realises that Caesar is genetically altered – really? Other than that there are a few arguable science fiction plot-holes that can be neatly explained with ‘exposure to the virus would have caused that’, so it’s probably best not to delve too deeply into semantics.

I think Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is an incredible film and WETA have produced a series of fine visual effects but there are so many tiny issues that really need to be addressed. While I agree that it’s a beautifully told story plastered with glorious visuals, if you remove these elements, you still have sloppy pacing, plot holes and formulaic character types – and for that I can’t award it any higher than an eight out of ten.

Release Date:
12th August 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
**Colossal spoilers**
As the film progresses, you can’t really help but look out for the various nods and homages to the original Planet Of The Apes films. But due to the way the story handles the evolution of Caesar, there is one scene in particular that will genuinely take most by surprise. Challenging Dodge’s beating, Caesar reaches out and grips his oppressor’s arm, neatly leading into the classic (and expected) “stinkin’ paws off me” line before Caesar lets out a guttural cry, clearly audible as “No!” We all knew it was coming, eventually one of the apes was going to have to say something; heightened intelligence, puzzle solving and sign language are all fine but the story needed that little push into the realm of plausible science fiction. And not only was it brilliantly handled, it was neither milked nor exploited, making for a truly memorable scene – hence the highlighted quote below.

Notable Characters:
Obviously, it goes without saying that Serkis has done an exceptional job and I doubt anyone would imply otherwise. But one easily overlooked performance is that of John Lithgow. Having been absent from mainstream cinema for some time, Lithgow’s tender, subtle performance is quietly powerful without striding into exploitative territory. Oh, and Maurice the orang-utan.. yeah, he was great.

Highlighted Quote:

In A Few Words:
“A disappointing human element lets down what could have easily been labelled one of the finest prequels ever filmed”

Total Score:



It Arrives

J.J. Abrams

Joel Courtney
Elle Fanning
Riley Griffiths
Kyle Chandler
Ron Eldard

The film opens in 1979, with the death of thirteen year old Joe Lamb’s [Courtney] mother – during the funeral it becomes apparent through gossip that Joe’s father, Jackson [Chandler], really has no idea how to raise his son alone. Four months later, Joe is approached by his movie-making friend, Charles Kaznyk [Griffiths], who plans on filming and submitting a short zombie piece, called The Case, for a young person’s film festival. To add credibility and heart to his story, Charles recruits fellow student, Alice Dainard [Fanning], who steals her father’s car and drives the group of friends to a deserted rail station. Whilst shooting a rehearsal, Charles spots a train approaching and hastily rushes his crew to ready the set. Despite Alice’s entrancing performance, Joe briefly turns away and notices a truck board the rails and tackle the train head-on. As the colossal speeding locomotive derails (in the most epic train collision since The Fugitive), the kids scramble, desperately dodging hurtling railcars and flaming debris. Plodding through the aftermath, the kids approach the truck driver, who has miraculously survived – albeit in a critical state. They recognise him as the school’s biology teacher, who groggily regains consciousness, pulls a gun and warns the children not to speak with anyone about what they’ve seen. As air force officials close in, the kids barrel into the car and speed off into the night. Over the following days, the small town populace start to experience several strange occurrences from animals abandoning the town, electrical appliances and engines being stripped from stores/cars and people going missing.

First off, there are plenty of extremely positive things to be said about Super 8. Invoking the confident structure and styling of late seventies/early eighties cinema, the plot focuses on developing character relationships over sensational expositive scenes. All of which is only achievable due to the extremely talented young leads and how credibly they gel and interact with one another. Equally, the building tension escalates beautifully thanks to keen editing and a neatly fitting score by Michael Giacchino. But underneath the lush cinematography, memorable performances and growing suspense, there’s a quiet nagging, a sense of familiarity that most dismiss as nostalgia. And then it hit me, this is an incredible film and an exceptionally well told story but it’s basically a love-letter to classic Steven Spielberg films. And with that, the sheen was removed and all I saw was a wealth of plagiarism.

Once you start actively comparing Super 8 to the movies it’s desperately trying to emulate (E.T., Stand By Me and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind to name but a few) it starts to fall short. Sure, the performances are good and the story is decent when compared to similar contemporary fare but that doesn’t change the fact that the characters were two dimensional archetypes, the dialogue was cheesy in places and almost every plot thread progressed predictably. Furthermore, Super 8 is so deeply rooted in its nostalgia trip that it doesn’t stop to question the validity of illustrating a story from a child’s perspective – a perspective which guarantees interaction over explanation, meaning the audience is left with countless unanswered questions. I could also moan about some of the CGI effects but for fifty million dollars, there are some stellar achievements, so let’s ignore that.

**Spoiler paragraph**
Which leaves us with the ending; the absolute tipping point and most mediocre element going. After successfully building a great deal of suspense, Joe confronts the alien (see, told you there were spoilers). The alien has been a hostage for years and taking a risk, Joe psychically links with the being to let him know that they pose no threat and it should leave Earth. So it does. The end. Seriously, that’s the ending. There’s a touching scene with a locket, as both Joe and his father finally accept that their mother/wife is gone but even as you’re bawling away, whispering ‘That’s beautiful’ in one breath, you’re muttering, ‘That’s so fucking corny’ in the next. It’s just so agonisingly annoying because the audience has been tricked. We’ve been following the exploits of this vicious creature that’s attacking the town and abducting people but then we’re supposed to care about the multi-limbed fucker getting home. The bastard eats people! Did I mention that!? IT FUCKING EATS PEOPLE! And not just as a defensive thing but it stores them in an underground work shop and snacks on them like crisps. That’s pretty fucked up. Bollocks to him being a captive and simply wanting to get home, so was E.T. and all that little shit wanted was Skittles! You see, this is the problem with following the blue-prints laid out by Spielberg: the majority of the time, he has no idea how to end his films, so we just get a rushed finale that taints the entire flick.

Ok, despite that rant I actually really, really enjoyed Super 8. I genuinely did. I just don’t think it’s that good. As far as a summer blockbuster goes, it’s really refreshing and I would recommend it to most but I cannot be one of those critics who submits to their tingling nostalgia and proclaims this film of the year.

Release Date:
5th August 2011

The Scene To Look Out For:
In the smartest move I’ve ever seen in a monk’s reward credit sequence, during the credits we get to watch the three-four minute film that Charles has been making: The Case. And not only is it stupidly funny and endearing it’s actually curiously inspiring. I mean, I really enjoyed Super 8 (despite the flaws) but adding that at the end really reminds you why most people make films in the first place.

Notable Characters:
Without a doubt Elle Fanning provides an exceptionally standout performance. And it would seem, not all too dissimilar to the Culkin family, that the talented elder sibling is no match to their younger brother/sister. On top of that, the dialogue scenes with the boys are pretty hilarious and extremely well written and each deserves a mention for their participation.

Highlighted Quote:
“Stop talking about production value, the Air Force is going to kill us!”

In A Few Words:
“I’m completely divided in my praise and condemnation of this film primarily due to the overwhelming levels of heavy homage. Either way, it’s an intense and enjoyable release that’s worth watching”

Total Score: