War for the Planet of the Apes Doesn’t Monkey Around

War for the Planet of the Apes Review

HUGE SPOILER WARNING

It’s official, the third installment of the Planet of the Apes prequels is the movie of the Summer in 2017. Andy Serkis cements himself as the best CGI-actor in the universe, and Woody Harrelson lived long enough to become an awesome villain.

Andy Serkis Doesn’t Disappoint

The actor formerly known as Smeagol, comes out of the woods once again as the noble-leader Caesar. Serkis shows once again, that he’s the best actor in show business when a bunch of puffy little green balls are plastered across his dome. Serkis’ Caesar had me engulfed in the apes’ struggle to live in peace. His performance added to an already great film.

The War for the Planet of the Apes continues on the stellar journey of Caesar’s path for peace and the survival of what’s left of the human race. The film reminds the audience that the humans are still suffering under the Simian Flu, the ‘illness’ that ironically gave the apes their now-higher intelligence. In the first act, you’re introduced to The Colonel’s (Harrelson) army after responding to the distress call sent from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. They’re searching for Caesar’s base but stumble upon a smaller camp. The battalion attacks the apes but succumb to massive casualties after Caesar charges in with reinforcements. Caesar then sends the surviving men to the Colonel, to express mercy by Caesar.

Serkis shows once again, that he’s the best actor in show business when a bunch of puffy little green balls are plastered across his dome.

The Colonel later surprises Caesar by killing his son and his wife while the rest of the apes are asleep. Caesar, filled with rage, vows revenge. Showing characteristics of his fallen comrade-turned-enemy, Koba. Caesar, along with his four closest allies, decide to go after The Colonel while the rest of the Apes venture to find a safer home. During Caesar’s travel, they find a mute girl suffering from sort of illness, later to be revealed as an evolved form of the Simian Flu.

Later, Caesar and crew find another ape, voiced by Saving Silverman’s Steve Zahn, named ‘Bad Ape’. Bad Ape leads Caesar to The Colonel’s fortress, but Caesar faces a shocking discovery. The Colonel has captured and enslaved all of the apes, including Caesar’s last surviving son. Caesar is later captured after leaving his small group.

The third act begins when The Colonel reveals that other humans are coming to fight his army. Caesar is shocked to hear this revelation as he assumed more humans would join forces to wipe out the apes once and for all. The Colonel explains that the Simian Flu is evolving and robbing humans of their speech and everything that makes them ‘human’. The Colonel then explains that he killed his own son to prevent the spread of the Simian Flu.

The Colonel forces Caesar into slave labor along with the other apes, to build a stronger wall to help defend against the coming human forces. Bad Ape and Maurice devise a plan to help the Apes through an underground tunnel. As the apes are escaping, the attacking humans forces commence their assault on The Colonel’s stronghold. Caesar confronts The Colonel, but it is revealed is suffering from the Simian Flu. Bloody nose, vacated speech, The Colonel begs Caesar to kill him. Caesar refuses, leading to The Colonel committing suicide.

As Caesar is attempting his escape, he his shot in the ribs by a soldier. Caesar later throws a grenade at two gas tanks, destroying the stronghold and The Colonel’s army. Reunited with his camp, Caesar leads his family and comrades to greener pastures. Revealing his mortal wound to Maurice, Caesar explains the apes are strong with or without him. The film ends with Caesar succumbing to his wound.

Movie of the Summer (2017)

The War for the Planet of the Apes cements this trilogy as one of the best in cinema. The story, dialogue, and acting are all astounding. Serkis’ performance of Caesar ended on a high-note and Harrelson portrayal of a psychotic colonel deserves much credit.

Compared to other summer blockbusters, including Spider-Man Homecoming, WFTPOTA (that’s a long acronym), deserves the title, Movie of the Summer. The Planet of the Apes prequel saga has definitely made movie-goers forget about Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes from the turn of the millennium.

My only negative comment about the film is that it continues the trend of the main human-protagonist not surviving to the sequel, off-screen. First, James Franco’s Dr. Will Rodman. Then, Jason Clarke’s Malcolm. This is bothersome, especially to fans who’ve connected with these characters. At least in Dawn, you learn of Rodman’s death through Caesar, but in this film there is no mention of Malcolm.

This is a must-see film, especially if you saw Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

 

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Transformers: The Last Knight – A Sloppy Review for a Sloppy Film

Disclaimer – I’m a Michael Bay/Transformers Fan Boy

Transformers The Last Knight is by far the sloppiest film of 2017 and it will be difficult for any flick to beat. Running at almost three hours long, the fifth film in the Transformers franchise fails to deliver on not only a coherent plot but an admirable set of characters.

The film starts with Optimus Prime floating through space after blasting off from Earth in The Last Extinction. Why is Optimus floating motionless? Is he sleeping? Do Autobots sleep? Anyways, he meets up on a dead Cybertron with Quintessa, a Cybertronian Goddess who claims to have created the Transformers. She then turns Optimus evil. That’s plot line 1.

Oh wait, there’s some scene from medieval England where King Arthur and his goons team up with an alcoholic Merlin plus a three-headed dragon Transformer to combat an evil army. That’s plot line 2.

In the present, Marky Mark aka Cade Yeager is a fugitive on the run because Transformers sympathizer. Both Autobots and Decepticons are outlaws and are being hunted by a militant group called MAGA. Just kidding, they’re called TRF, Transformers Reaction Force. Yeager then rescues an orphan girl, who was presumably raised by an Autobot named Canopy. Canopy then dies unceremoniously after introduction. This little girl is introduced as Izabella who fights against the TRF and is all about the Autobots. Plot line 3.

(I tried explaining this film to a coworker earlier and got admitted to the emergency room)

Now we go back to England and meet Viviane Wembly, a historian who thinks Transformers have only been around since 2007. She then is kidnapped by Anthony Hopkins’ Sir Edmund Burton. Burton is part of a lineage of individuals who worked with Transformers to help get rid of evil. These individuals included Sam Witwicky, Harriet Tubman, and many others.

While that’s going on, it turns out Megatron is still alive. He negotiates with Josh Duhamel’s William Lennox, he’s back in this one, on freeing his newly introduced goons. Yeager is given an ancient talisman from a dying Transformer, that has enormous power and of course Megatron is after it. They find Yeager, there’s a fight, then Burton’s butler, ANOTHER NEWLY INTRODUCED TRANSFORMER!, invites Yeager and Bumblebee to Burton’s castle.

(This is where like 10 plot lines come together)

After 30 minutes of fan service, Yeager and crew find out Earth is Unicron and Merlin’s staff has the power to either kill Earth or save it. Yeager and Wembly then go and search for the staff, find it. Then, BAM! Optimus Prime comes down in all of his glory, but he’s controlled by Quintessa. Quintessa wants the staff for her own to rebuild Cybertron.

Megatron and his goons come down and take the staff, after Optimus and Bumblebee fought in a battle that almost made me forgive Michael Bay for this shit-plot. There’s then more fan service and it turns out the talisman from earlier turns into Excalibur and makes Yeager strong enough to take on a damn Autobot. (Spoiler, we never see this sword again)

The movie ends on this epic-looking battle sequence where Optimus Prime and the Autobots kill Megatron’s goons, kick Megatron out of a spaceship, then killing Quintessa. She then turns human and says “You don’t want to touch Unicron” to some unsuspecting scientist. Film ends, the sixth film begins production.

Overall, The Last Knight is a giant shit show that gives amazing fan service while making uninterested significant others fall asleep faster than usual. The film could have been an hour shorter, took out 20 robots, and it would have delivered a better experience. After the bad taste The Last Knight left in my mouth, I will still see the next film in the Transformers franchise.

Logan – The Much Needed End of X-Men

This post contains spoilers

In what was presumably Hugh Jackman’s last performance as Wolverine, Logan did not leave fans disappointed.

Logan provided the much needed closure for Fox’s X-Men saga. Loosely based on Marvel’s Old Man Logan series, Logan follows Jackman’s character in the far distant future from the events of X-Men: Apocalypse (The events of Days of Future Past wiped out X-Men 2 and 3). The year is 2029 and the mutants are no-more.

The story takes place after mutants are hunted down after an incident involving Charles Xavier which resulted in numerous human injuries. Logan is an alcoholic limo driver who protects Charles and Caliban (a mutant who can search for other mutants) south of the border in Mexico.

Over the course of the film, you meet the film’s villain David Pearce. Played by Boyd Holbrook, Pearce works for Transigen. Transigen is that antagonist organization hunting the remaining mutants, including Logan.

David Pearce is one of the sore spots of the movie. While the acting by Holbrook was phenomenal, Pearce was only seen as a henchman. Didn’t really possess the big villain vibe that Magneto, Dark Phoenix, and Sebastian Shaw showcased in previous films.

You later find out Transigen created mutants of their own. Designed from the DNA of mutants like Logan, and incubated in human hosts. Laura, the furious female lead was created from James “Logan” Howlett’s DNA, effectively making her his daughter.

Dafne Keen brought fire and resistance to the 11 year-old Laura. The stunts, fight scenes, and overall characterization was phenomenal. It was a great compliment to Hugh Jackman’s best performance since Oklahoma!.

Logan was action-packed and fulfilled the fans’ request for an R-rated Wolverine flick. Even with the added blood, it felt like a superhero movie. With the addition of Cowboy Western elements, the X-Men franchise earned their much-needed closure in the oversaturated field of comic book cinema.

Aka go see this movie.

Get Out – Review

*Spoiler Warning: This post contains spoilers about Get Out*

Get Out is the directorial debut of Key & Peele’s Jordan Peele and the film does not disappoint.

Get Out follows the journey of Daniel Kaluuya’s Chris on meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. Chris’ girlfriend, Rose Armitage, played by Allison Williams (Girls, Peter Pan), invites him for a weekend at her parents’ house in suburbia. ‘Unbeknownst’ to Rose’s family, Chris is black.

The film conveys the struggles African Americans deal with on a daily basis. In the United States, the Black community is systemically marginalized. Mainly, by law enforcement. Get Out expresses those fears through a creative medium that engulfs the audience.

Even after Chris perseveres through the film, the powerful final scene screams the instilled fear that even a black hero can go down as a villain.

The performances were stellar from the whole cast. Daniel Kaluuya and Allison Williams’ chemistry as an interracial couple was exquisite. Williams’ turn from loving girlfriend to psychopath was exceptional. The film is in the suspense/horror category, the film still packs a comedic punch. Mainly, from LilRel Howery’s Rod.

The directorial debut of Jordan Peele deserves recognition and hopefully future projects will be funded by this film’s success.

Get Out: Summary

In the beginning of the film, you’re introduced to Chris and Rose and that they’ve been dating for some time. Chris is an avid photographer and has two best friends, Rod and Sid. Rod is an African-American TSA agent and Sid is a dog with IBS. Rod is skeptical of Chris visiting Rose’s parents place.

On the way to Rose’s parents lovely abode, Rose’s car is hit by a crossing deer. Rose, shaken up, calls the police to make a report. After the officer speaks with Rose, he asks not only for her driver’s license but Chris’ as well, who was not driving. Rose rightfully objects to the officer’s request and the story moves on with no further conflict.

Chris and Rose pull up to her parent’s house. Chris notices the groundskeeper mowing the lawn with an old-fashion push mower. Chris meets Rose’s parents, Missy, a psychiatrist who specializes in hypnosis and Dean, a neurosurgeon, played by Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford respectively.

We later meet Rose’s MMA-obsessed brother, Jeremy. Who has an infatuation with Chris’ physique. Later at dinner, Dean tells Rose, they’re having a yearly gathering. Rose, playing coy, acts as if the gathering is not having on its scheduled date.

As the gathering begins, Chris is introduced to the party’s attendees, who all happen to be white except two. One of the non-white attendees is Logan (African-American), who Chris recognizes but cannot put a name with the face. Logan tells Chris to “Get out!” after Chris takes a photo with flash from his phone. Chris calls Rod, after sending a photo of Logan, and Rod explains that Logan is from Brooklyn. Rod is skeptical of the gathering, as he explains that Logan is an acquaintance from Chris’ past, Andre.

Chris takes Rose away from the gathering. Chris expresses that he lost his mother at a young age and Rose is all that he has left. Rose then tells Chris, that she’s ready to go home, earlier than expected.

As Rose is gathering her things, Chris notices a box in a closet. Chris looks through and sees photos of Rose’s past partners. These partners include the groundskeeper from earlier, Georgina the family’s housekeeper, and Logan/Andre. Chris rushes to leave, as he suspects that he might be in danger.

As they’re leaving, Missy, Dean and Jeremy surround Chris by the door. Rose is searching for her car keys but cannot seem to find them. As it turns out, Rose was playing dumb all along. Missy then taps her tea cup with a spoon, putting Chris into an unconscious trance. This was a result from an earlier hypnosis on Chris.

Chris then wakes up strapped to a chair in an enclosed room with no windows but an old-fashioned television set. Chris communicates with an attendee of the gathering explaining why Chris is imprisoned. The attendee explains that his brain will be transferred into Chris’ body.

As Dean preps for the surgery, Chris escapes the room and kills Jeremy, Dean, and Missy. Rose chases after Chris, while shooting at him. Rose then tells her groundskeeper to tackle Chris, calling him Grandpa. As Grandpa is strangling Chris, Chris uses his phone’s flash and the groundskeeper retakes control of his body and shoots Rose. The groundskeeper then points the gun on himself and commits suicide.

As Chris is about to enact vengeance on Rose, a police patrol car pulls up. Chris raises his hands as if he were going to be arrested. The car door reads “Airport” and Rod exits the vehicle. Rod and Chris drive home as Rose dies laying in the street.

LEGO Batman – Review

After humongous success of The LEGO Movie, Warner Brothers took a swing at the DC universe. Released in Theaters on February 10, 2017, the LEGO Batman punched its way to a box office smash.

The LEGO Batman provides the silliness of LEGO while instilling the somewhat serious-tone of The Dark Knight. Batman is played by Will Arnett, who provides a stellar vocal performance of the cape crusader and Bruce Wayne. Robin, is played by awkward poster boy Michael Cera. While the rest of the main cast is rounded out by Zach Galifianakis (Joker), Rosario Dawson (Batgirl/Barbara Gordon), and Ralph Fiennes (Alfred).

The movie features comedic genius that will satisfy the whole family. It keeps your attention throughout and provides minimal stale scenes unlike its video game counterpart. One of the main criticism of LEGO video games is eventually they become stale with the same jokes. LEGO Batman eliminates the lame parody film-stereotypes and provides a great cinematic experience.

If you haven’t seen this movie, go see it. Simple as that.

Jasper Downey provides spoiler-free film reviews. If you’re looking for a more in-depth review, then this isn’t the place.

Foxcatcher – Review

One of the creepier films released this holiday season is Foxcatcher. Foxcatcher tells the true story about Mark (Channing Tatum) and Dave Schultz (Mark Ruffalo) and their relationship with millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell).
If you do not know the truth about this tale, do not go looking for it. The film depicts the difficulty a wrestler has after his collegiate career is over. Mark Schultz is looking for his second Olympic Gold and prepares for the next Olympic Games. When one day, he receives a call from John du Pont, the heir to the du Pont fortune. After the relationship is made, you’re giving clues that something isn’t right but what?
Du Pont wants Schultz to bring his brother David and build the Foxcatcher training empire. Du Pont’s interest in wrestling stems from his childhood and his obsession of being a champion.
If you’re a movie buff, you have to see this film. Steve Carell gives a fantastic performance and Mark Ruffalo steals the spotlight from Channing Tatum. Just a warning, the first twenty minutes are extremely slow-moving but once you get through that, you’re waiting for the next shot (wrestling joke).

Gone Girl – Review

Gone Girl is the movie to see this year. The 2014 suspenseful “thriller” throws all kinds of emotions, twist and turns at you. Most importantly, it does what no other movie has done, and that’s be completely real with the plot. The Ben Affleck starred flick shows that not everything is what it seems and that there are secrets embedded on every page in life. Warning, there are some uncomfortable scenes, but it is definitely worth checking out. One last note, Neil Patrick Harris was phenomenal in this movie.