(Rupert Wyatt, 2011)
In spite of its clunky, tell-all title, Rise of the Planet of the Apes defies the general consensus of reboots rarely challenging the usually high qualities of their original exemplars and offers a fresh spin on the story of apes overcoming their homosapien counterparts, a story spread thin over six films previously. Unlike Tim Burton’s failed attempt at redoing whats been done already with his unsubstantial take on Planet of the Apes (2001), Rupert Wyatt’s interpretation covers fresh ground by effectively going before the events of the first film and explaining how, and more importantly, why the primates rose to become the dominant intellect on the planet. The crux of Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘ intentions is to build a significant amount of tension before an eventual payoff, even though its title and our predetermined knowledge of what’s come before (or after) takes a slight wind out of its sails. Continue reading
(Ben Palmer, 2011)
Shrugging off the tumultuous affair British Television has with transplanting its best loved shows from small screen to big, with previous attempts in the form of Ali G Indahouse (2002) and Kevin and Perry Go Large (2000) failing to project themselves cinematically, The Inbetweeners Movie now makes the unsteady transition from its wildly popular televisual roots to feature length material as Will, Jay, Simon and Neil are given perhaps one last time to shine together before their impending, though scarcely assured, maturity. Continue reading
(Robert Hamer, 1949, UK)
Perhaps the finest of all the Golden-Age Ealing comedies, Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) arrives dusted off and given the polish it rightfully deserves; a sixty two year old film re-released as a timely reminder of how, given the correct ingredients, black comedies needn’t be bogged down with lewd material to be fun, charming and, most importantly, intelligent. Kind Hearts and Coronets is all of these and more, and it is somewhat alarming that given the darkness of the plot, it remains an effortlessly graceful, celebrated classic in its own right. Continue reading
(J.J. Abrams, 2011, USA)
After having revitalised the Mission:Impossible franchise with its third (and best) installment, and successfully reintroduced Star Trek (2009) to a responsive, contemporary audience two years ago, J.J. Abrams now brings us Super 8 (2011), his very own homage to Spielberg’s legacy of high-class family adventures, most specifically E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977); films which mixed personal family crises like divorce with extraordinary, extraterrestrial circumstances. Evoking such aesthetics, Abrams’ third film is a nostalgic throwback to relatively more simple times where the adventure genre was fueled not by capital gain and dimensional exploitation, but child-like imagination and wonder. If a film of this scale was in any other hands, it would be in 3D for sure, but thankfully it is of a much higher class than its tiresome contemporaries, a film that emphasises the importance of characterisation over tactless CGI shenanigans. Continue reading
At a recent screening for Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011) at my local mainstream-championing cineplex (unfortunately the only cinema in my area for a number of miles), the one thing that frustrated me more than the film, and the customarily noisy patrons, was the trailers section for the ‘upcoming features’, something that once was a rite of passage for me when it came to my regular film-going experience, but now a crippling, headache-inducing test of endurance. It detailed four upcoming movies all aimed at kids, so the material was barely of interest to me, and they all ended with that jarring, gravely-voiced adage “…in 3D”; two words that have the simultaneous ability to make the heart sink and foul the mood of the more discerning cinemagoer. In short, 3D is an unwelcome addition and now stands for a lot more than integrating the viewer into the cinematic world, assuming that a clouded depth of field can make up for even the most lackluster of materials (see Alice in Wonderland (2010), Clash of the Titans (2010) etc). It also diminishes any excitement I once held for the future of mainstream cinema, itself something of a guilty pleasure in a climate of shameless cash-ins over legitimate independence, which remembers cinema is first and foremost an art form, not another zero on a paycheck. Continue reading
Posted in Article, Film
Tagged 3D, 4D, Aromascope, Avatar, Glee Live, Happy Feet 2, Movie Trailers, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Scratch & Sniff, Smell-O-Vision, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, The Smurfs
(Mark Waters, 2011, USA)
In the latest nail in the coffin that is his career, Mr. Popper’s Penguins (2011) sees Jim Carrey playing Thomas Popper, a divorced, selfish but successful real estate mogul who targets the elderly owners of high-end properties in order to prey on their proclivities and procure their premises. Alienating himself from his two children in his placid New York apartment, Popper is used to living the good life, that is until one day when he (literally) stumbles upon a crate shipped to him from his recently deceased father, who spent his life traveling Antarctica. Inside is a penguin, and much to Popper’s perplexion, five more arrive days later, forcing him to get back in touch with fatherhood, realise his remaining feelings for his ex-wife and remind himself of the more important things in life. All the while turning his home into an ice palace and teaching his feathered friends how to shuffle ball change.
Sacrificing subtlety in favour of a painfully banal screenplay with two dimensional characters and littered with alliteration, sometimes beyond comprehension, Mr. Popper’s Penguins is a tour de force in embarrassment, a mass produced example of just how hurried, sloppy and aggravatingly dilettante Hollywood filmmaking has become, especially within the family genre. It’s also a timely reminder of Carrey’s diminished capacity for emulating the heights of his heyday, seen recently with the putrid Yes Man (2008) and lazy Fun With Dick and Jane (2005), and here he cuts a desperate and disengaged figure, a shadow of his former rubber faced self. What we are witnessing is the woebegone aftermath of Carrey’s once-entertaining career, and he here drags the likes of Philip Baker Hall, Carla Gugino and Dominic Chianese (Junior Soprano from The Sopranos) down with him, a cast completely upstaged by a pack of CGI penguins who fart, enjoy Charlie Chaplin movies (hey, at least they have taste) and are prone to pratfalls. It left me stone cold.
Sidenote: Alliteration is pertained purely on purpose.