2018 Golden Globe Awards: Commentary on winners, #TimesUp movement, highlights of the night

Can’t believe award season is officially in full swing! Honestly I didn’t even realize Golden Globes was this weekend until I heard something in the car as I was driving around. Fortunately I did have time to actually sit down and watch (and live tweeted) the event, though I tuned in late as I usually avoid the red carpet stuff.

Well this year’s ceremony is different than in recent memory… what with the #TimesUp movement and everyone banding together to support women who’ve been sexually-harassed/abused by wearing all-black at the red carpet.

More on that later… as I do want to introduce a friend of mine, Shivani Yadav, blogger extraordinaire of Critic-Corner which offers reviews and fun celeb fashion, as we tag team on Golden Globes commentary this year! I thought that since the Golden Globes was all about women supporting each other, it’s the perfect time to collaborate. Shivani – it’s an honor to have you guest blog on FlixChatter!

Now, to start things off, here’s the video of Seth Meyers’ opening montage in case you missed it…

Glad he captured the #TimesUp movement in his monologue and rightly blasting the biggest sexual harassment perpetrators Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Woody Allen. I think overall Seth did a good job as host. He didn’t irk me like some previous hosts and he certainly wasn’t as mean-spirited as Ricky Gervais.


Red Carpet

Shivani:

This was probably the best Golden Globes ceremony, in recent memory. So many amazing moments took place and great speeches were made. My day could not have started in a better way (it was 4:30 AM when it started here in India).

On the fashion front, with the #TimesUp and #MeToo movement going on, celebs opted for black ensembles and I was all up for it. I know the point here was of solidarity and trying to get a message out but at the end of the day, it was through fashion. And a person who writes fashion reviews daily, at first I was a bit skeptical about to decision but after tonight, I can confidently say that this was one of the best red carpets I have seen since I started writing. With the help of one color, the message came out much more clearly – of equality, sisterhood and not taking anybody’s sh*t!

I just wish more men were speaking out about the issue. Red carpet hosts could have done a better job in making them a part of the conversation by asking them how things can be better and in general, voicing out their opinions. Hopefully, we’ll see improvement on that side in the more coming award shows.

As for my fashion favorites, this is probably the first time I don’t have any. Sure, I have opinions about every look (and for that you can read my blog), but generally as a whole, I’m so pleased and overwhelmed with everyone, fashion-wise, that my conscience is not allowing me to pick favorites.

Ruth

The #TimesUp and #MeeToo movement was quite unprecedented. As a woman of color, the message of solidarity in the spirit of equality and representation is one that’s dear to my heart. Of course it remains to be seen if this movement will actually make a real lasting impact in Hollywood and beyond… I sure hope women don’t just get heard because it’s part of a zeitgeist… that it’s more than just a ‘trend’ but something that would bring out real change.

I skipped the red carpet stuff, but I did read some comments how the hosts didn’t seem to be grasping the movement seriously and still make it all about the fashion instead of having meaningful conversations. If that’s the case, it’s truly a missed opportunity, especially since many celebs brought activists with them to the event.

Now, out of a sea of all-black ensembles, there are still truly stunning outfits. I think limiting the color made designers more creative with the style. For me though, the queen who slayed them all has got to be Viola Davis… #ibowtothee


Main Event Highlights

Shivani

The first highlight for me was obviously Oprah‘s speech. I’m not even kidding, tears were literally pouring down my eyes by the sheer power of it. Breathtaking!

Love the fact that Natalie Portman and Barbra Streisand pointed out the all-made director’s category. Somebody had to do it and HFPA wasn’t exactly listening so doing it to their faces was kind of important!

And seeing Kirk Douglas with his daughter-in-law Catherine Zeta Jones was quite a delight too.

Ruth

I so agreed that Oprah‘s speech is definitely a highlight. It was such powerful, definitive, empowering and inspiring. Now, I’m not one of those who worships on the altar of Oprah, but y’know what, it’s undeniable she is a powerful self-made woman and last night she used her power for good like nobody’s business.

I feel for anyone who had to follow THAT speech to deliver the Best Director award, and that ‘honor’ went to Natalie Portman and Ron Howard. But y’know what, Portman seized the moment by cheekily quipping ‘and here are the ALL MALE nominees!’

I know some people have issues with the timing of that comment that seemed to undermine the accomplishments of the nominated filmmakers. But I don’t think she meant it that way, and y’know what, she too was caught up in the moment after Oprah’s speech and she seized it. It was a spot-on comment and I felt that it needed to be said. I thought Howard’s expression was priceless, and at least he was a big enough man to realize it wasn’t a slap against male directors, but the male-dominated filmmaking club that wasn’t conducive for women to be a part of.

There are many powerful speeches last night by women, but the one I was really taken by was Laura Dern‘s. I love how sincere her delivery was, empowering but delivered with a dose of humility and grace.

I LOVE the spirit of female solidarity displayed all night, especially by the female-led show Big Little Lies that won big last night, including Best Miniseries or TV Film.

Well, since I live-tweeted the event, I might as well just post some of my tweets here…

Case in point…

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JANUARY 07: 75th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS — Pictured: Actor Chris Hemsworth (L) and director Taika Waititi arrive to the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2018. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Thoughts on Winners/Losers

Neither Shivani and I barely watch any TV shows this year, so we only post comments on the film winners. Ironically, the year I became a filmmaker last year also meant I had little time to watch films so there are a ton of films nominated here that I had missed.

In any case, here’s our comments on the the nominees and winners (listed in bold) 

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Judi Dench, Victoria & Abdul
Margot Robbie, I, Tonya
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Emma Stone, Battle of the Sexes
Helen Mirren, The Leisure Seeker

Shivani: I’m sure most people expected [Ronan] to win. Not a surprise! I like how her mom was on face-time. That was cute!

Ruth: I’ve been such a huge fan of Ronan that despite not having seen Lady Bird yet (I know, I know, hopefully soon!), I’m thrilled she won. I think she’s deserved awards for so many of her past performances (Atonement, Hanna, Brooklyn, etc.)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy
Steve Carell, Battle of the Sexes
Ansel Elgort, Baby Driver
James Franco, The Disaster Artist
Hugh Jackman, The Greatest Showman
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out

Shivani: Same here. No surprise!

Ruth: Again, haven’t seen Franco’s performance but I was kinda rooting for Kaluuya’s just based on what I’ve read on Get Out. I like the brotherly love Franco displayed when he won though the whole thing w/ Tommy Wiseau was just so odd. Plus I think it’s rude to shove him away like that, even if they were good friends now.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture — Drama
Timothee Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day Lewis, Phantom Thread
Tom Hanks, The Post
Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Denzel Washington, Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Shivani: I was rooting for him so much. I know Timothée is awesome and everything, but Gary literally never gets his due. It’s his time!

Ruth: Indeed it’s a well-deserved win!

Glad that Oldman gave props to his co-stars. I thought Kristin Scott Thomas and Ben Mendelsohn were both absolutely terrific in the film. Good enough even for a Best Supporting nod!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama
Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game
Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Meryl Streep, The Post
Michelle Williams, All the Money in the World

Shivani: God this lady is fierce. There’s literally no match for her!

Ruth: I love how effortless and no-nonsense McDormand was. I love that she doesn’t seem like someone who loves to schmooze (unlike most in Hollywood) and doesn’t take any bullsh*t from anyone either. Three Billboards is yet another film I’ve missed but hope to see that soon!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
Hong Chau, Downsizing
Allison Janney, I, Tonya
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water

Shivani: In my opinion, the actual competition here was between Allison and Laurie. I’m happy either way, I love all of the nominees!

Ruth: I loooove Octavia Spencer and The Shape of Water, so naturally I was rooting for her. But that’s not fair as I haven’t seen the other performances. Janney is a force so I have no problem w/ her winning. Plus, I love the diversity on this category.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name
Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Shivani: No one could really tell here who would win, so I would have been happy for anyone. But yeah, Sam is extremely underrated and I’m happy he got some recognition.

Best Motion Picture — Musical or Comedy
The Disaster Artist
The Greatest Showman
Get Out
I, Tonya
Lady Bird

Shivani: I’m just happy for the crew. Greta Gerwig is so adorable!

Ruth: I probably am in the minority here the fact that I have not seen Lady Bird nor have I seen any of Greta Gerwig‘s films, either. Not sure why, just haven’t gotten around to it. But hey, always happy to see a female filmmaker getting accolades, so yay!

Best Motion Picture — Drama
Call Me By Your Name
Dunkirk
The Post
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Shivani: This was quite a surprise. I thought The Shape of Water would have won, but nevertheless, I’m happy that they recognized the film!

Ruth: Having only seen Dunkirk and The Shape of Water, I have no idea which one would win in this category but I thought Call Me By Your Name would win.

Best Animated Film
The Boss Baby
The Breadwinner
Ferdinand
Coco
Loving Vincent

Shivani: I don’t think anybody was surprised with this win!

Ruth: Yep, not surprised at all though this is the first year where I hadn’t seen any of the animated features! I did blog about Loving Vincent a while ago, that looks absolutely astounding.

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture
The Shape of Water
Lady Bird
The Post
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Molly’s Game

Shivani: I was quite positive that Lady Bird would win, and was surprised once again. It’s just that Three Billboards isn’t a type of movie that would normally get recognized by award shows. I’m happy that it is!

Ruth: Can’t really comment here as I have only seenThe Shape of Water, but sounds like a really strong category here with solid picks. I wanna see every single one of these I’ve missed!

Best Director – Motion Picture
Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Martin McDonagh, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Ridley Scott, All The Money in the World
Steven Spielberg, The Post

Shivani: Another underrated director (by the voters)! I loved it when he asked them to lower the music. “It’s taken 25 years. Give me a minute” Awesome!

Ruth: Happy for del Toro’s win, too! The Shape of Water was a singular and extremely creative original film. I love filmmakers who truly gave his all for his creation and del Toro spent a lot of his own money and considerable time even just to design the sea creature! Still, I was flabbergasted and saddened that Greta Gerwig and Patty Jenkins were snubbed, esp. Gerwig considering the critical rave Lady Bird received.

Best Original Score
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
The Shape of Water
Phantom Thread
The Post
Dunkirk

Ruth: I adore Desplat’s score for The Shape of Water. It’s as magical, ethereal, romantic and mysterious as the film. Absolutely beautiful stuff that sweeps me off my feet.

Best Original Song
“Home,” Ferdinand — Nick Jonas, Justin Tranter, Nick Monson
“Mighty River,” Mudbound — Mary J. Blige, Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson
“Remember Me,” Coco — Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Star,” The Star — Mariah Carey, Marc Shaiman
“This Is Me,” The Greatest Showman — Benj Pasek, Justin Paul

Shivani: I was really disappointed with the fact that they did not nominate Mystery of Love and Visions of Gideon from Call Me By Your Name so I’m kinda mad at them for that. This Is Me is a good enough song, but if it were up to me, it would not have gotten my vote.

Ruth: I had to look up the two songs that Shivani mentioned. Both of those songs are lovely, I totally understand why she loved them. I think This Is Me  is a rousing song though, definitely more of a crowd pleaser.


Let me end the post with this article that offers an astute observation of the night… it’s as if the #TimesUp movement weren’t really a thing for most of the men, aside from what Seth Meyers said in his opening monologue “Good Evening, Ladies & Remaining Gentlemen.” The silence is deafening and frankly, disheartening.


So, what are YOUR thoughts on the 2018 winners & favorite moments of the night?


FlixChatter Review: Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Happy Eclipse Day folks! Did you get outside and view it? It’s only partial eclipse where I live, but still pretty cool. Well, at least there’s something fun to do on a Monday. Well, as Summer season is almost coming to a close, I have to say it has been kind of a ho-hum Summer at the movies. There’s nothing that truly wowed me… even Chris Nolan’s Dunkirk which I was impressed with, didn’t really linger in my memory that much after all.

Well, this past week was unusual because I actually saw two new releases that were pretty similar, as in both are action comedies targeted to a similar audience. Well, here’s my quick thoughts on one of them…

I gotta say that in when the trailer of this came on w/ the famous Whitney Houston’s song spoofing The Bodyguard movie, I knew I had to see this. I knew it’ll probably be silly but I also couldn’t resist the pairing of Samuel L. Jackson (Kincaid) with post-Deadpool Ryan Reynolds (Bryce). So Reynolds plays the world’s top bodyguard who reluctantly takes a new client, a hit man (Jackson) who must testify at the International Court of Justice. So in the spirit of Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and other countless road comedies genre, they must put their differences aside and work together to make it to their destination on time.

Despite the rather simple and yes, unoriginal premise, the movie did make me laugh… a lot. I always prefer Reynolds in comedies anyway and he’s pretty hilarious here against the more gregarious Jackson as they constantly hurl insults at each other. The pair have a good chemistry together and look like they had a blast making this. It’s not exactly a fresh buddy cop flick, but it’s got enough humor and fun action scenes for an entertaining escape at the movies. Salma Hayek though, is quite the scene-stealer as Jackson’s sexy-but-deadly wife Sonia.

The journey from London to Hague is marred with shenanigans as a bunch of cops and bad guys are hot on their trail. I thought director Patrick Hughes is pretty decent in filming the action scenes and car chases all over Europe. I especially enjoyed the Amsterdam car/boat/motorcycle chase that’s slightly reminiscent of a Bond/Bourne flick. Sadly, veteran actors in supporting roles (such as Gary Oldman and Richard E. Grant) are always criminally wasted in a film like this. Boy, Oldman’s been cashing out a lot lately, eh?

Given the R-rating, this film is quite violent and foul mouthed. There’s practically F-bombs in every dialog, which is excessive in my book. The plot is familiar but not completely silly. There is an amusing twist as to what happened to Bryce’s high-flying client, as well some philosophical themes to ponder, as Kincaid asked Bryce who’s more evil “…he who kills evil motherf******, or he who protects them?” Obviously each think one is more righteous than the other. I’d say this movie is still pretty fun to watch despite the usual clichés and inherent silliness, but not exactly one to rush to the theater to see.


Have you seen Hitman’s Bodyguard? Well, what did you think?

Guest Review: The Space Between Us (2017)

guestpostspacebetweenus

Directed By: Peter Chelsom
Written By: Allan Loeb (screenplay), Stewart Schill (story by)
Runtime: 2 hrs

The Space Between Us is a fun, sweet coming of age comedy that spoils its own success by trying to be a drama. The story follows Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield), a boy born and raised on Mars on his first trip to Earth. Worried that he might not be allowed to stay on Earth, Gardner escapes the NASA compound and journeys across the country to find Tulsa (Britt Robertson) – a girl he met on the internet. Hijinks ensue. Teenage love is kindled. A road trip is had. It’s adorable. It’s funny. It’s sweet. It doesn’t work.

The Space Between Us suffers from dramatic shifts in tone from one scene to the next. The teenagers are in coming of age romantic comedy and the adults are in a family drama. The crossover between the two narratives falls flat constantly. Nathaniel Shepherd (Gary Oldman), a wealthy Silicon Valley type, spends most of his time yelling unnecessarily and Kendra (Carla Gugino) was incessantly on the verge of tears or worrying in a motherly fashion. Obvious comedic moments were played detrimentally straight, like when the grownups think they’ve caught up with Tulsa and Gardner but it’s actually two completely different teenagers. That should be a funny moment, but girl (credited very accurately as “screaming girl”) is so terrified when Shepherd accosts her, that any humor is lost.

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The script itself was sloppy and full of contradictions with both itself and reality. For instance, we’re told multiple times that Tulsa cannot fly a plane but she can and does. Gardner, whose body is full of metal and magnets, makes it through an MRI unscathed. (I mean, technically this is at least sixteen years in the future, so suspension of disbelief or whatever, but it irked me because science fiction that ignores basic science is bad science fiction. Speaking of which, live-streaming video was viable from Mars to Earth from the moment the first mission touched down, which, yeah right.) There is a completely unnecessary reveal regarding Gardner’s father at the end of the movie. There is an explosion that only exists to use up leftover budget dollars. And so on.

Additionally, The Space Between Us does not deal with race or gender well. The cast leans very heavily in the white and male direction. The shaman character (played by Gil Birmingham) teeters on the edge of a racist stereotype. If the random, stoned white lady who introduces the kids to the shaman is any indication, that scene was probably even more problematic in a previous draft.

As far as gender goes, the movie had an annoying, if average, patriarchal lean. Women are mothers first and foremost. Gardner’s biological mother is only around long enough to give birth and die. Before she dies, though, the audience gets to hear a room of men talk amongst themselves about how “irresponsible” she was and then they decide, without ever looping her in on the conversation, what to do about her pregnancy. Kendra, an astronaut whose primary role is raising Gardner, winds up falling neatly into the stereotype of a woman who regrets putting career first. She and Gardner have a painfully bad conversation about motherhood and marriage.

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The strength of this movie is inarguably in the moments between Robertson and Butterfield. Robertson’s performance as a tenderhearted teenager who has learned to be guarded is emotionally charged, relatable, and funny. Butterfield struggles with a script that cannot quite decide if he has social skills or not. Ultimately he prevails as a charming, if kind of weird, kid. The flaws in his character (for example, a tendency to overreact to minor set-backs and an inconsistent level of social skills) are ultimately flaws with the script, not with Butterfield. Both actors breathe life into a below average script.

The movie is also redeemed in its cinematography. In many ways the movie can be seen as a love letter to the natural beauty of earth and the color with which humans surround themselves. Unfortunately, the editing did not live up to the cinematography, which sometimes minimized the visual impact of the movie.

The Space Between Us could have been great. It is beautifully shot, features lovely performances by Robertson and Butterfield, and is a ultimately a feel-good adventure story. It’s just too bad that not everyone who was signed onto the project got that memo.

hollyp


Have you seen ‘The Space Between Us’? Well, what did you think? 

FlixChatter Review: CRIMINAL (2016)

CriminalBnr

For the last couple of years, Hollywood is giving Kevin Costner another shot at being a box office draw. Unfortunately all the films he starred in as the lead mustered very little box office returns and looks like that trend will continue with his new action thriller.

After a botched mission, CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) was killed and his boss Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) needs to know what happened. Pope was going to bring in a hacker named Jan Stroop (Michael Pitt) who has the possession of a very powerful technology that can destroy the world. In order to find out what happened and locate Stroop, Wells contacted Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) who’s an expert at transferring memory cells from one being to another. Dr. Franks decided to choose a very dangerous criminal named Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) to receive Pope’s memory.

After the brain operation, Stewart told Wells and Franks that he doesn’t have Pope’s memory inside him, this of course was a lie since Stewart has own agenda after seeing flashes of what happened to Pope before he died. Wells was furious and told his men to take Stewart back to prison. But Stewart was able to escape and he’s on the run not only from CIA agents but a very powerful man named Hagbardaka Heimbahl (Spanish actor Jordi Mollà) and his assassins.

With the successes of the Jason Bourne films, seems like many spy action films have tried to copy those films. And this one is no exception, we get the usual CIA folks tracking our hero through surveillance cameras, car chases and hand to hand combat. I did like the script by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg, they tried to bring some new ideas to a familiar genre. Unfortunately the pacing of the movie is a bit uneven and I think the blame should go to director Ariel Vromen. He doesn’t seem to know if he wants to make a gritty action thriller or dramatic thriller. Also, this may not be his fault because of the movie’s very low budget but the action sequences were poorly staged and ended way too quickly. I did appreciate that he didn’t shy away from making the violent scenes very bloody, I miss seeing R-rated action films.

Performances wise, the movie belongs to Costner and he’s quite good here. At first his character starts out as a very despicable person but of course he becomes the hero and saves the world as the movie progresses. Oldman and Jones didn’t have much to do and same can be said of Gal Gadot.

This is the kind of action movie that probably best-suited for a TV movie of the week or straight to home video. It’s too bad though, with a cast like this, you’d think the final product would be something special.

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TedSPic


Have you seen CRIMINAL? Well, what did you think?

FlixChatter Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

DawnOfApesPoster

Let me preface this review by saying that I haven’t seen any of the classic Apes movies in the 60s. I did see the 2001 reboot but I can barely remember any of it. But the 2011 version won me over that I’m intrigued to see what’s going to happen next.

The story takes place about a decade after the first film. The opening sequence swiftly tells us a Simian flu and incessant civil wars have wiped out most of humanity. On the brink of extinction, the remaining survivors in pockets all over the world is now living back in a *primal* state. It’s the search of power that connects the two species, as the dam the humans need to restore power resides so dangerously close to the Apes village.

DawnOfApesStills1

I love that the film takes its time in the character development of the apes, which are actually more crucial than the human characters. We get a glimpse of the apes’ community that Caesar & his fellow lab objects has built in the hills outside San Francisco.  The little apes go to *school* taught by a big, gentle orangutan, the female apes take care of the household, whilst the males hunt to provide food and protect the community. It’s akin to a tribal village where all the apes live peacefully under the leadership of the strong and wise Caesar. Not long after a small group of humans encounter some of the apes in the woods, thanks to a moron with an itchy trigger-finger, the fragile peace between the humans and the apes is about to be shattered.

Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) creates a suspenseful and atmospheric piece here that immediately sucks you in. At times it’s so sinister and eerie that I felt like I was watching a horror film. Aided by Michael Giacchino‘s haunting score, it’s a truly immersive experience. There is genuine terror when one of the human group leaders Malcolm tries to reason with Caesar, having witnessed that he’s clearly more than just a regular ape. Jason Clarke is solid here as Malcolm, he’s not overly charismatic but he’s effortlessly sympathetic and likable. To be fair, none of the human characters are nearly as charismatic as Caesar whose screen presence is undeniable. He commands your attention and even your allegiance, as I find myself rooting for him more than for the humans.

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Right from the start, this story keeps me engrossed whilst I marvel at the amazing CGI that looks and feels realistic. Mo-cap maestro Andy Serkis never ceases to amaze me with his motion-capture performance as Caesar. I really think his performance deserves an acting award as he truly embodies the role in the same way as a live-action actor would. The craftsmanship in the digital recreation of the apes is nothing short of amazing. Every detail and all the subtle nuances of the apes’ expression are so seamless and organic, you’d think these are actual apes who’ve been amazingly-trained! The apes all have distinct facial characteristics, just like the humans do. The production design is absolutely mesmerizing. The ape village, as well as the human compound in a rundown tower looks realistically gritty and bleak. There is a very cool scene in a wrecked gas station that sticks in the mind, not just visually but emotionally as well.

The emotional gratification is what makes a big impact here. Whilst all the special effects are incredible (what with $170 production cost), it’s the characters and their conflicts that make all the difference. And we certainly get that here with Caesar and Malcolm, both of them are essentially on the same page. Both have a family and a community they care about, yet they have to contend with those in their circle who simply don’t see things as they do. In Caesar’s camp, we’ve got Koba (Toby Kebell), his right hand man ape whose hatred for humans stems from being tortured in the lab and he’s got the ugly scars to prove it. “Koba only sees the bad side of humans,” Caesar says at one point, and honestly, at times I do feel sorry for Koba. Malcolms’ cohorts are more one-dimensional. You’ve got the hot-headed jerk Carver (Kirk Acevedo) and the paranoid group leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) who doesn’t really have much to do here than scream and shout. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Keri Russell fare better as Clarke’s son and girlfriend, respectively, though again, most of the human characters are simply not as memorable as the apes.

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I know it’s only July, but I have a strong feeling this would end up in my Top 10 of 2014 list. I also don’t think I’m exaggerating that this stands as perhaps one of the best sequels of all time, whilst at the same time it’d work fine as a standalone film. There’s a scene that allude to Caesar’s past in the first film, a poignant moment that truly tugs my heartstrings. I don’t think people need to see the 2011 film in order to get this film, but of course it makes you appreciate Caesar’s journey more. Kudos to Matt Reeves and his team of writers (five of them to be exact) for making this film a Caesar-focused story, it’s a taut thriller that’s as gripping as it is emotionally-gratifying. Now, the narrative is actually quite predictable, but this is not the kind of film that relies on twists so it doesn’t dampen my enjoyment for the film. Given the present conflicts all over the world, the bloodshed and social discord depicted here resonate even more.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not just one of the best offerings of the Summer, but of the entire year. It succeeds because the special effects punctuates and supports the story/character instead of the other way around. The technical achievements never overshadow the story, even during the action-heavy battle scenes in the third act, it doesn’t become so bombastic that we lose sight of what’s really at stake. The 3D is just okay, which is consistent with my sentiment that 2D format is always sufficient. The powerful last shot lends itself nicely to another sequel, and you know what, I for one can’t wait to see more the continuation of Caesar’s journey.

4.5 out of 5 reels


What do you think of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?

Five for the Fifth: JULY 2014 Edition

FiveForFifth2014

Welcome to FlixChatter’s primary blog series! As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here.

1. Well, since yesterday is Fourth of July, aka Independence Day for good ‘ol USA, for some reason I always think of Roland Emmerich’s 1996 alien disaster flick: Independence Day. It is after all the quintessential Hollywood Summer tentpole flick: big, bombastic and unabashedly patriotic. Regardless how you feel about America, it’s hard not to cheer when Wil Smith punches the slimy, ugly alien or when Bill Pullman made his rousing speech (no doubt one of the most memorable movie presidents/speeches ever).

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I bet there are folks who watch this annually on July 4th, just like it’s tradition to watch The Tenth Commandments at Easter and Miracle on 34th Street on Christmas day. And why not? It’s an absolute blast in every sense of the word, massively entertaining so long as you don’t mind suspending your disbelief for 2 hours and just go along for the ride.

So do you have a go-to Summer movie you like to watch every year? ….

2. Speaking of July 4th, check out this new thematic-trailer of the one Summer movie I can’t wait to see! Fortunately I won’t have to wait too long as I’ll be seeing it next Tuesday. So far the marketing for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has me REALLY anticipating this one, it looks even more sinister than the excellent first film. JFK’s independence day speech from 1962 makes it even more eerie, especially when one of the apes climbed over that American flag!



The early buzz I’ve read so far has been unanimously positive. Could it be one of the best movies of the year? I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case. With the amazing Andy Serkis back in mo-cap performance as Caesar, the rest of the cast is pretty solid: Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Toby Kebell.

A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

I also found some cool posters, both official and fan-made. Click each image to see a larger version:

Are you as excited as I am for this movie?

3. Oh man, here’s another reason why I wish I lived in London!! I just read yesterday that one of my favorite composers Hans Zimmer is planning a concert at Hammersmith Apollo in London. The concert series is titled Hans Zimmer Revealed which will include music from his vast film soundtrack collections. I LOVE a lot of his work, as I’ve highlighted in this Music Break post. Apparently Zimmer’s no stranger to performing on stage. He’s been known to perform during film premieres, such as during Inception premiere in L.A. in 2010. Here he was performing with guitarist Johnny Marr:

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Photo courtesy of Variety.com

Per Collider, the concert will be in two parts: the first being some of Zimmer’s classic movie scores including Gladiator, The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean, and the second featuring re-imagined versions of some classic scores such as The Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception with special guests from the rock and pop world. It’d be sooo cool to hear LIVE orchestra of some of my all time favorite scores, especially Gladiator which I just rewatched last night. I think that could be considered Zimmer’s masterpiece. It’d be even more awesome if he brings his protege John Powell to perform together as well. I hope he’d consider doing concerts in the US as well, though most likely in the major cities like L.A. or New York City anyway.

What do you think of Hans Zimmer concert? Which other composer would you pay to see live on stage?
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4. Now this question is inspired by my friend Dave’s awesomely-long comment on my Transformers 4 rant post. He mentioned that he’s been binge-ing on lots of TV series lately and he’s not missing movies much at all.

This year TV has surpassed the movies for me. What with series like House Of Cards, Orange Is The New Black, The Americans, Halt and Catch Fire, Veep, Orphan Black, Sherlock, True Detective, Fargo, Downton Abbey… and even going back to the end of last year with Broadchurch, Top of the Lake and The Returned… I can’t say I’m really missing the movies so much. I haven’t even delved into Game of Thrones, Hannibal, or Sundance’s Rectify yet.

He also mentioned upcoming shows he’s anticipating, one of which is Cinemax’s The Knick from Steven Soderbergh, starring Clive Owen. Set in downtown New York in 1900, The Knick centers on Knickerbocker Hospital and the groundbreaking surgeons, nurses and staff who push the bounds of medicine in a time of astonishingly high mortality rates and zero antibiotics. Check out the trailer:

Heh, hat looks pretty darn scary but definitely intriguing. Well, having finished all 8-episodes of STARZ’s Black Sails (Season 1) last night, I totally get why people are so into TV these days and indeed, the golden age of television is going on again now. The quality of actors and script, not to mention the huge budget studios invest on these shows are astounding.

My question for you is two-fold:
Have you been watching more TV than movies lately? Which shows are you addicted to right now and/or highly-anticipating?
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5. This month Five for the Fifth’s guest is Andrew from A Fistful of Films Blog. It’s funny how a decade of film can carry with it a certain quality.  When you think about the 80’s, you may call to mind that melodramatic, almost palpable soap opera veneer that found it’s way into so many films.

80sFilmDecade When you think of the 30’s, you may think of the countless screwball comedies and the prat falls that laced them.  Whatever the case, we tend to lump things in groups of ten, and deservedly so.

With that in mind, which decade of film have you found the most rewarding to explore, and which ‘quality’ makes it so rich??


Well, that’s it for the JULY 2014 edition of Five for the Fifth, folks. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all! 😀

FlixChatter Review: Robocop (2014)

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The original version of RoboCop holds a special place in my heart, not only it’s one of the best films of the 80s, it actually converted me to become a hard core shoot’em up action fanatic. Being that I was born in the Far East, I grew up watching martial arts films, lots and lots of kung fu and samurai flicks. But when I first saw 1987’s RoboCop, I was hooked and the action/adventure is my favorite genre in films. Back in the mid 2000s MGM announced they were going to do remake of Verhoeven’s classic and of course I was not happy to hear that. But around 2006 or so, they announced that Darren Aronofsky was attached to write and direct the remake, since I’m a fan of the director I was intrigued. Unfortunately MGM ran into some money issues in late 2000s and Aronofsky left the project. A few years later, they found a new director and now the movie is ready for prime time.

This new movie starts out with a newscaster Pat Novak (Samuel L. Jackson) giving news to the US citizens about how the robots are controlling the streets of a country in the Middle East and that they’re doing a great job of securing the dangerous neighborhoods. Then he starts lecturing about why the US government are so robophobic, you’ve probably seen that clip countless times from the TV spots and trailers. We learned that these robots belongs to a giant corporate called OmniCorp (OCP) and that they’re looking for ways to put the robots on the streets of the US so they can make even more money.

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The problem they’re facing is that most of the US politicians aren’t comfortable having emotionless robots doing police work, so OCP’s CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) came up with a plan to have an actual human being inside the machine. He convinced his main scientist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to go along and they start searching for a candidate to become this new RoboCop. They’re hoping that with a human inside the robot suit, the politicians will change their minds and vote to legalize robots roaming the streets of US everywhere. Around this time we were introduced to a Detriot police detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman), he and his partner Jack Lewis (Michael Williams) were ambush during a sting and Lewis ended up in the hospital. Both of them were trying to bring down a crime lord but without the permission of their boss Chief Karen Dean (Marianne Jean-Baptiste). Murphy also accuses some of his fellow detectives of being dirty but since he doesn’t have any evidence, his boss told him to leave the case. The bad guys was able to put a bomb beneath Murphy’s car and later when he got home, the car’s alarm went off and when he tried to turn it off, the car blew and Murphy was hurt quite badly. OCP finally found their candidate and if you’ve seen the original film then you know that Murphy’s now a RoboCop and the adventure begins.

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After seeing the awful remake of Total Recall, I didn’t have much expectations for this movie. But to my surprise, I quite enjoyed it. Instead of just reshooting the scenes of the original, they actually brought in some new ideas for the remake. Where the original film dealt mostly with the corporate greed of the 80s, this one tried to say something about the current US military and of course the corporate world, I don’t think they quite succeed at that they’re trying to say but it’s interesting never the less. This is the first movie I’ve seen from Brazilian director José Padilha and I thought he did a pretty good job, but I do wish he’d hold the camera still once in a while. He’s one these young directors who thinks that by having camera moving constantly, even during dialog scenes, would make the scenes more interesting or something. But at least he didn’t shake the cameras too much during the action scenes.

Again I did like some of what screenwriter Joshua Zetumer came up with for the remake, he was trying to please the fans of the original and also trying to bring in the new generation of fans. Unfortunately the script sort of loss its focus down the stretch, I loved everything that happened in the first 40 minutes or so of the story but I wish he stuck with the ideas he came up with. The climatic showdown between our hero and the villains kind of felt forced and just didn’t work for me. If this one turns out to be a hit, I hope they can expand the ideas for the sequel.

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Performances wise, I thought all of the actors did a great job. The only other movie I’ve seen Joel Kinnaman in was the awful Safe House where he played the villain. Now he’s the lead and I thought he did a pretty good job, instead of playing a cold robot like Peter Weller did in the original, he has to express more emotions in this movie. Gary Oldman was great as usual, he actually has the same amount of screen time as Kinnaman. Somehow I thought of him as the scientific Jim Gordon since he helped RoboCop out a jam a few times. Abbie Cornish plays Murphy’s wife and she didn’t really have much to do but look worried or cry once in a while. It’s always nice to see Michael Keaton in a big movie but unfortunately he’s not menacing enough for a big corporate baddie, for sure he’s no Ronny Cox’s Dick Jones of the original film. Jacky Earle Haley shows up on screen once in a while as the second main villain but he’s no Clarance J. Boddicker. Last but not least is Sam Jackson, as usual he chewed up every scenes he appeared in. It’s clear that the filmmakers wrote his character to be the likes of Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly.

Despite some flaws, I still think this remake is quite entertaining and much more ambitious than some remakes I’ve seen the last few years. I think had the script stuck with the ideas they came up with and have better villains, the movie could’ve been as good as the original. I’m very curious to know what Aronofsky would’ve done with the movie, pretty sure his version will be as violent as Verhoeven’s. Speaking of violence, this movie maybe one of the most brutal PG13 films I’ve seen so far, just a warning to parents who are thinking about bringing your kids to see it. There’s a scene in the movie where a kid got shot, very similar fashion to the original where a guy was shot multiple times but the robot ED209, it wasn’t as graphic as that scene from the original but some might find it disturbing.

With good performances and cool action scenes, I do recommend this movie. If you’re a big fan of the original like I am, you might enjoy it but just remember to keep your expectations low.

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What do you think of this new Robocop?