Announcement 18

I was planning on seeing “Annabelle: Creation” today, but I'm seeing “Detroit” instead. Just thought I'd let you know. In other news, I've started a blog where I review tokusatsu aimed specifically at children. If you like my reviews, and want to see them tackling things that hold up under their own standards as opposed to the academic standards of film scholars, well, here's the link. (My first review will be tomorrow, and I'll be seeing the movie after I get home.)

https://redjedsreviewschildrenstokusatsutvseriesmovies.wordpress.com/

Update: It doesn't appear that I was much in the mood for “Detroit.” Go figure.

Announcement 16, Along With a Request

I was thinking that I'd review “Detroit” today, but due to me unexpectedly feeling ill before going into the theater, that was not what happened. (Before anybody says anything, I've elected to have the Sunday of each week be without a post, as that's the Holy Day.)
Anyway, starting Monday (for you guys, at least), I'm going to, for the first time, start seeing the Universal Monster films and reviewing them, starting with 1931's “Dracula.” Not all of them, but the ones I are highly recommended by every film lover's definition, or movies that are merely important to the property's history. One thing I've heard from quite a few people is that you have to be a certain state of mind to appreciate those movies, especially the ones from the ’30s. If someone here could provide a feel for what that state of mind entails, I'd like to know.

Review #16: “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017)

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Perhaps more than ever, I must warn you away from this post if you don’t want the movie spoiled, as I can’t talk about movies in-depth without spoiling them. Especially not movies like this. Got that? Well, let’s press on.

STORY

This movie is even darker than its predecessor, and perfects that tone to a T, on top of that. I’ll admit that I was a little put off by how built-up the second meeting with the Colonel was in the first hour, but the fact that that hour flew by at a very quick pace (for me, at least) should tell you something. Once that second meeting with the Colonel happened, though, the movie started getting really, really good. By the end, I was utterly and completely enthralled. The story is so well-crafted that it’s hard to even know how to say why. I’m gonna give it…
Story Grade: 98% (A+)

CHARACTERS

The apes are as interesting as ever, and the introduction of “Bad Ape” could’ve very well turned out horribly, and too distracting from the movie’s tone, but they knew exactly when to use him. And here’s the best part: While downplayed in comparison to the previous two movies, the human aspect of the story is actually great and not bland in comparison. The Colonel is one of the best villains I’ve ever seen on film, not just because of how evil he is, but because of how understandable his evil is, which almost makes the line between what’s right and wrong in this movie so gray that there’s no “black” to compliment it. What else can I offer except the tip of my hat?

Characterization Grade: 100% (A+)

SCRIPT

About on par with the script of “Dawn,” so I’ll repeat the grade I gave there.

Script Grade: 95% (A)

DIRECTION

The best direction I’ve ever seen of any movie in the trilogy so far. I mean, the motion capture technology was pushed so far, and the action scene at the end is pure eye candy. And the expressions of both the apes is incomparable, and the body language expressed by the speaking and mute humans is incredibly expressive.

Directing Grade: 100% (A+)

ACTING

For Caesar’s first fluently speaking role, Andy Serkis once again cemented his status as the Master of Motion Capture. Woody Harrelson is wonderful, and the actress playing Nova is brilliant.

Acting Grade: 100% (A+)

ACTION

Like I said, pure eye candy, and caring about what happens is more important to its effect in this movie than ever.

Action Grade: 100% (A+)

EXECUTION

This movie does indeed have “it,” and I love it. What more can be said?

Execution Grade: 100% (A+)

FINAL THOUGHTS

What more can I say? I’d have to see it again to find anything else to say.

Final Grade: 92% (A-)

Personal Final Grade: 100% (A+)

So, would I like to see more in this series? If they’re gonna be as good as “Dawn” or even “Rise,” I’d say yes. That’s all for now. See you soon!

Review #15: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014)

Okay, so after a week-and-a-half of delays, I’m back, for the love all things good and great. (And no, I’m not telling you what caused the holdup. That’s between me and my housemates.) I’ve wasted enough time, so let’s get to it.

STORY

The story here is very well-realized and executed, with a huge scope, despite being “confined” to a single area of the country, and real weight to what’s going on. This is also one of the darkest movies to achieve “blockbuster film” status since “The Dark Knight.” (Didn’t forget about “Rises,” but whatever you think of that film, it’s not what you’d call “as dark as can be,” like its predecessor.) The amount of philosophical discussions to possibly be gained from this movie is about as high as it can go, as well. The story also has the benefit of small things that don’t add up in the moment making sense in the grand picture, and what few things that truly don’t add up being small things that you’d only notice on repeat viewings. (Plus, the fact that three years later, I’m still shocked that Koba turned on Caesar should tell you something.)

Story Grade: 100% (A+)

CHARACTERS

This is an area that doesn’t have as much success as the other parts. The human characters aren’t uninteresting, but there’s not as much to their characterizations as there ideally should be. (I mean, Carver not trusting apes even in the face of the full picture of what actually happened in the lab might be possible in any other context than the one presented in the story, but that’s just my perspective.) Where the movie shines the best, though, is developing the apes as characters, with Caesar’s hesitance to pass judgement being a major problem, and Koba having an understandable reason for doing what he does. (Not justifiable, just understandable.) Maurice is also shown to be as docile as an ape in these movies can be, finally establishing a clear character for him, specifically. In the end, not quite as a success as the story, but still enough to earn a cool…

Characterization Grade: 92% (A-)

SCRIPT

The dialogue between the apes is well-written (both sign and spoken), and the sense of dread to the whole movie is complimented by the dialogue between the human characters, as well. What else is there to say?

Script Grade: 95% (A)

DIRECTION

Matt Reeves sure knows how to direct a great action movie, and his penchant for cinematic art (which I hear played a big part in the making of “War”) shines through. This area is part of why the movie is such a tangible improvement over “Rise,” which had one weak area, that being direction.

Direction Grade: 100% (A+)

ACTING

The motion capture actors are great, as per expected, and how can I dislike the humans when they’re Gary Oldman (even if he’s kind of a… insert swear word here) and Keri Russell? (I’m not familiar with Jason Clarke, but he’s good.)

Acting Grade: 95% (A)

ACTION

The assault on the city is quite a sight to behold, and the final fight between Caesar and Koba is legitimately exciting, with the fact that you care about what’s happening, again, being a huge bonus.

Action Grade: 100% (A+)

EXECUTION

This might be one of the best-executed movies I’ve ever seen. The motion capture is great, the overall imagery is great, and everything seems to be running like a well-oiled machine. (In fact, I’d be very surprised to find out that there were any major problems with production at all.)

Execution Grade: 100% (A+)

FINAL THOUGHTS

This movie has all of this, but it also has the “it” I mentioned in my “King Kong” review, the “it” that makes me know that this movie is one of my favorites. I can’t tell you the exact spot, but it’s easily among all of them. Anyway, what’s my grade?

Final Grade: 90% (A-)

Personal Final Grade (For What That Means, Go Back to My “Rise” Review): 96% (A)

Well, that’s two out of three films in the reboot series reviewed. Look for my review of “War for the Planet of the Apes” tomorrow. See you then!

Announcement 15

Just a quick update; the “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” review will hopefully, hopefully, be published tomorrow. No promises, but that seems to be the direction things are going. Once again, I'm sorry for not keeping you guys satisfied, but things are definitely changing, as my landscape is not anything like it used to be.

Review #14: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011)

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Yeah, I hinted to you in that clue last time that I was reviewing a “Planet of the Apes” movie. I may or may not get to the original series at some point, but I’m gonna focus on the rebooted series for now. (On a mostly unrelated note, I’m actually writing the reviews for this movie and its direct successor on Monday, even though the predecessor’s review will come out on Monday, and the successor’s on Tuesday. Why? I figure one a day is enough for my readers. Oh, and for certain movies, I’ll be posting a score about what the movie means to me on top of the more “objective” score I have for the movie from now on. Not for all movies, just a couple, like “King Kong.”)
Anyway, this is the first movie in the umbrella “Planet of the Apes” franchise I ever saw, as I was raised by a father who didn’t care for the original movie as much as many people do. So, what did we think of this movie? Let’s find out…

STORY

If there’s one positive thing I can say about the story here, it’s that it’s miles better than the stories written by James Cameron himself (the effects were done by his company). (I generally like his movies quite a lot, but the stories are easily the weakest aspect of them.) Also, the story knows a lot about how to build up what happens at the end and delivering on what it promises at the end. With that said, though, the story isn’t perfect; it has some rather glaring plot holes that, to the movie’s credit, would probably take many viewings to spot, but once you do spot them, they’ll stand out like signposts. However, none of the aforementioned plot holes are ruinous to the overall product, and the story is rather refreshingly original. The first time I saw it in the theater, I genuinely had no idea where the story was going to go. (Well, I knew the general direction the story was likely to go, but even that was subject to quite a lot of surprises.)
I do have a lot more to say than that, but I think I’ll save that for later; for now, I’ll just say, it’s very solid, and surprisingly thoughtful to boot.

Story Grade: 88% (B+)

CHARACTERS

Caesar and Will share a genuine friendship that is helped tremendously by the restrained pace of the story, which allows you to really care about what happens in the story even before the climactic action scene. Caroline is rather bland (apologies to Frieda Pinto, but it’s true), but Charles (Will’s father) definitely isn’t. Caesar is quite interesting himself, and his body language is outstanding. The other apes (Maurice the orangutan especially) are also quite interesting. And I’ll shut up and give this area a grade now.

Characterization Grade: 95% (A)

SCRIPT

It’s… well-written, but it’s rather basic, so there’s not a whole lot to say.
Script Grade: 90% (A-)

DIRECTION

This is one of the few areas that isn’t so strong. The actual execution of the non-dialogue aspects of the scenes is excellent. The actors, however, suffer a little, often giving monotone deliveries where they’re decidedly not welcome (like a scene where they’re supposed to be happy or just neutral). With that said, though, it’s not… awful, so…

Direction Grade: 78% (C+)

ACTING
As I said, the actors aren’t given a whole lot of favors (except for John Lithgow), but the body language on the part of the apes is, as I said before, outstanding. Andy Serkis (Caesar) is often considered the “Master of Motion Capture” for a reason.

Acting Grade: 82% (B-)

ACTION

The final action scene is really large-scale and packed with surprises, to boot. The way that they did it all the way they did is really impressive to me, and, as I said earlier, the fact that you care about what’s happening is a huge bonus.

Action Grade: 100% (A+)

EXECUTION

You might be wondering why I haven’t talked about the motion capture yet, and the reason is that it’s all in the execution. I will say that it’s done with the best care possible. What more do you want me to say?

Execution Grade: 95% (A)

FINAL THOUGHTS

When I saw the movie in the theater, I thought it was close to amazing, and though it’s since lost a bit of luster, nothing has diminished its overall impact much. My father even said that it was better than the original movie. Yeah, so what’s my grade?

Final Grade: 85% (B)

Tomorrow will see the publication of my review of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” and the next day will see the publication of my review of “War for the Planet of the Apes.” After that, I’ll move on to something else. What is it? You’ll have to see. Bye!

Review #13: King Kong (1933)

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Well, I didn’t exactly strike while the iron was hot, but I did strike when it was warm-ish. Anyway, the last month or so has been crazy, as I recently moved, but I’m back, hopefully to stay. And don’t worry too much about those reviews of “Dr. No” or “Wonder Woman.” I’ll get to one of them soon. Which one? You’ll have to wait and see.
Okay, enough beating around the bush. So, you might be wondering why I’m reviewing this movie. Well, it’s rather simple; over the past few months, I’ve developed an interest in kaiju movies. What’s that, you may ask? Short answer: A movie with a giant monster, sometimes of determinate species, sometimes not, going around destroying things and, often, battling another monster of similar scientific grouping. (Some may argue that a person in a suit playing both monsters is an intrinsic part of the deal, but I’m not personally one of them.) And what better way to start then with going back to the genre’s origin? Yeah, without “King Kong,” we wouldn’t have giant monster movies being made today or in the 1950s. So, did this movie do anything for me, specifically? Let’s find out.

STORY

The story, truthfully, is a bit sparse. Well, okay, it takes its sweet time building up the eventual conflict involving Kong and the island natives, but there’s just a lot of very efficiently-presented nothing happening during most of it. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh in context, as this movie was made at a time where just having a movie with talking and a fully-orchestrated score running through it all was a novelty, let alone such a movie with so many new techniques at providing the illusion that they were seeing something that didn’t exist. But, quite frankly, the first forty-five minutes or so were a bit of a chore for me to get through. It doesn’t exactly help that it wasn’t until that point that I found a character I liked. But I’ll get to that later.
The point is, that part wasn’t interesting to me, but at around forty-five minutes in, which was about the point that Ann was captured by the natives, the movie grabbed me, and wouldn’t let me leave my seat until it was over. This part of the movie was everything the first forty-five minutes should’ve been and more. On top of that, it has what I’m terming “it.” You know, that unexplainable quality of a movie where it takes hold of you, holds you under its spell, and makes you praise it to hell and back once it’s over. The story was just as sparse as it was in the earlier stretches of the movie, but the movie itself was much more interesting, much better paced, much more well-presented and overall, just better in general. It was here that I saw what made everyone praise it to high heavens now and forever. Does this make the other parts “okay?” I don’t know, but this area still ends up succeeding wildly, despite those parts. There’s not a whole lot to say about the story itself, except that it’s presented flawlessly starting at the forty-five-minute mark.

Story Grade: 90% (A-)

CHARACTERS

Jack was really the only character who did a whole lot for me, and even at that, it took longer for him to become likable than it should’ve. The rest of the cast is made up of greedy chauvinists and a chauvinist’s fantasy woman (Ann). The reason Jack endeared himself to me is because he eventually showed that he had more layers to him than the typical male character in the movie.
Now look, I’m not gonna criticize the movie too much for that, since it was made at a different time, and those problems were intrinsic to that era of American history, but since I find characters I identify with an important part of any movie, especially one that takes itself as seriously as this one, I’ll say that this area is rather bland, except for Jack. (Kong himself is a lot more interesting than the human characters, though, so there’s that.) However, credit where credit is due, the movie does acknowledge Denham’s greed, and calls him on it towards the end. For that reason, I’m going to give this area a…

Characterization Grade: 80% (B-)

SCRIPT

Passable, but there’s not much more to say than that.

Script Grade: 85%

DIRECTION

The direction of the segments after the island natives kidnap Ann are directed perfectly. The direction on the other scenes is… okay, I guess?

Direction Grade: 82% (B-)

ACTING

This is one area where the human characters do shine. It only partly makes up for the blandness of their characterization, but the movie is almost perfectly casted, and for that, I salute it.

Acting Grade: 95% (A)

ACTION

Couldn’t be happier with this area. The foreboding score makes it more dramatic than it needs to be, IMO, but it is legitimately entertaining.

Action Grade: 100% (A+)

EXECUTION

I think I’ve said my piece on that, truthfully.

Execution Grade: 90% (A-)

FINAL THOUGHTS

I really wish that I didn’t have so many bad things to say about this movie, as I really like it a lot more than I, by rights, should. But I can’t bring myself to say that, despite its technical mastery, that it’s not dated and not chauvinistic. It decidedly is those things, but those things are more easily forgiven by me than I ever could objectively describe.
Anyway, that’s enough from me. Calculate My Grade, what’s my score?

Final Grade: 81% (B-)

If I was rating it based on how I personally feel, it’d receive a 90%. Not kidding, it’s really that good in my eyes. But looking at it objectively, there’s too much bringing it down to grade it any higher than 81%.
Well, that was uncomfortable. And I really am dreading the flood of negative comments coming my way from my sterling fan base, but you know what? I stand by what I said, because that what an opinion entails. Just know that this review is about it as a film, not a marker in film history; if I’d done it that way, it would’ve gotten a 100%. Anyway, I will get to the Peter Jackson movie from 2005 soon, as well as the other movies and Godzilla, but next time, I’m gonna lighten the load with a movie I greatly respect and truly like all the way. What is it? It’s part of a movie series whose opening entry has a twist ending. See you then! (Or not. It’s up to you.)