Cowboys and Aliens – Review

Cowboys.  Aliens.  Cowboys fighting aliens.  James Bond and Indiana Jones vs. otherworldly Martian scum.  A horrible conglomeration or a whole lot of awesomeness?

Cowboys and Aliens, directed by Iron Man’s Jon Favreau, centres on Daniel Craig’s character Jake Lonergan.  Your quintessential tough guy from the west, Lonergan wakes up in the middle of the desert, with no recollection of who he is, or what the funky contraption locked around his wrist might be.  After discovering he is able to deliver damn good ass-kickings, he swaggers into the little-old town of Absolution.  Lonergan wastes no time in giving the local shit-stirrer Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) what for.  Cue some ominously familiar shaped lights in the sky and tendrils viciously yanking the townspeople away.  It’s here we find out Lonergan’s bracelet is a whole lot more than a pretty fashion accessory.  Now it’s up to the rag-tag bunch of gun-toting men (and woman) to get their people back.

If you go into it expecting an intellectually stimulating storyline with soul searching characters and emotions galore, don’t.  Go see, I dunno, The Smurfs or something.  This is a no holds barred shoot-em-up Western crossed with heavy SFX and CGI aliens.  It’s exactly what the title says it’s going to be, and, it’s actually pretty decent.  Daniel Craig plays Lonergan straight and narrow.  Silent and somewhat stereotypical, but it works with the clichéd dynamic of the film.  Olivia Wilde plays the mysterious Ella, whose relationship with Lonergan is a bit disjointed and unusual.  I suppose they had to put a pretty lady in there somewhere though, didn’t they.  But its Harrison Ford’s Woodrow Dolarhyde that I was most anticipating, and his menacing exterior coupled with moments of genuine but subtle tenderness do not disappoint.

This is an enjoyable piece of mindless, explosion ridden gun slinging entertainment.  Have fun, go along for the ride.  The battle scenes are effective (the sound effects were actually a standout), there’s a little comedy, a little romance, a little bit of everything that makes a blockbuster.  It’s a film that’s not ashamed of what it is.  The alien’s themselves are quite unique, in that their motive is exactly that of the humans of the set time period.  And I’ll say no more.  They have absolutely no empathetic qualities.  And that’s ok.  (And boy, they look disGUSTING.)

In short, a fun mindless action-western romp that’s extremely likeable, clichéd and unashamed.

Cowboys and Aliens: Below Average

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Green Lantern – Review

In brightest day, In blackest night, no evil… blah blah blah.

Before I go much more into this I would like to say that I was sort of hoping the trailer wasn’t a full indicator of this film… sadly it pretty much is. Green Lantern is a comic book adaptation film of a character I rather like. The Green Lantern gets his abilities from a power ring that uses the green energy of Will Power to create anything he/she/it imagines. There is a Green Lantern for every ‘sector’ of the universe and they all make up the Green Lantern Corps. Hal Jordan becomes a Green Lantern and in a very rushed storyline must save the earth from an entity who uses the yellow power of Fear.

Ryan Reynolds plays the not-a-care-in-the-world, Hal Jordan who is chosen by the Green Lantern Ring assigned to the sector that Earth resides in. His character style comes from his background in situation comedy, rather than the way Hal Jordan acted in the comic books. Because of this his character and therefore the film is more for comic relief and comedy, juxtaposed with the CGI action of the film.

His co-star and in my opinion probably the best performance in the film was Blake Lively, of Gossip Girl fame, who plays Hal’s long time friend and romantic interest, Carol Ferris. The bad guy, Hector Hammond, played by Peter Sarsgaard, was a typical pathetic and weak man taken over by evil and had very little character development.

The Green Lantern Corps were overall very well cast with the exception of Kilowog (voiced by Michael Clarke Duncan) who in my opinion didn’t meet my expectations. Thaal Sinestro (Mark Strong), Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison) and Tomar-Re (Geoffrey Rush) were all very well played out and I would like to see more from them especially Sinestro who in the comics had a very long and developed story as a Green Lantern who “went to the dark side”.

I feel bad for Ryan Reynolds as he never got the chance to wear the outfit, a privilege that I believe all superhero actors should have, instead he wore a grey full body suit. Which brings me to my point that the CGI was overdone and it would have been nicer to see less and more real-world SFX. It was a little disappointing because I prefer more real experience.

Overall, I believe that while the movie was pretty good, it lacked in many areas and thats one of the reasons why it failed. Another reason is that the producers obviously didn’t think it through because majority of the population haven’t heard of the Green Lantern and in a year where the movie The Green Hornet was released they may have not analysed their audience as well as they should have. However despite the poor box office effort, they are in scripting for a second and I am looking forward to what could and should be a sequel better than the original.

Green Lantern: Below Average

For those who want to know… the oath is as follows,

In brightest day, in blackest night,

No evil shall escape my sight

Let those who worship evil’s might,

Beware my power… Green Lantern’s light!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Review

“Get your paws off me you dirty ape!”  “You finally made a monkey out of me.”  These, to whom it may concern, are two lines dreadfully sung by Troy McClure featured in The Simpsons episode ‘A Fish Called Selma.’  It also represents the breadth of my knowledge about The Planet of the Apes before my voyage to its prequel.  To the uninitiated, fear not.  You don’t need to have seen the original to understand the storyline.

James Franco plays Will, a determined scientist developing a substance that potentially serves as a cure to Alzheimer’s disease.  Sticking to the good-old-fashion laboratory formula, the team continually test the serum on assorted apes throughout its development, one of which begins to show a marked improvement in mental capacity.  Jumping the gun, Franco and his stereotypically greedy boss (I swear you can almost see the oversized dollar signs in his pupils), present said primate to investors, however things go disastrously and the project is left in ruins.  Out of the chaos, Franco stumbles upon a baby chimp whose green flecked eyes (a side effect of the serum) indicate that this ape’s got potential.  Therefore Franco decides to play daddy and names him Caesar.

Overall, meh.  Performance wise, Franco strikes me hot and cold.  Yes, we feel him connect with the animal that he’s raised essentially as a human (teaching him sign language, clothing him), yet the first time they’re torn apart, it just didn’t feel like it HURTS Will enough.  They built it up as a father son relationship.  Care a little more dammit!  Slumdog Millionaire’s Freida Pinto plays Will’s love interest, who serves little more purpose than to run, offer the occasional titbit of opinion and stare in a concerned manner.  Forgettable.   John Lithgow solidly plays Will’s Alzheimer’s riddled father, a role in which he is allowed two opposite elements of mental stability.  You can tell he enjoyed the challenge.

However this is Caesar’s movie.  The visual effects crew at WETA Digital have again shown the fruits of motion capture done right.  Of course, this couldn’t have been possible without the extraordinary talent of Andy Serkis, king of the funny dots on your face.  It’s the eyes that have it in this film.  At one point I felt quite apprehensive at the impending presence of the monkeys, even though they aren’t even real!  A testament to the successful collaboration of the physical and digital.  One of the most fascinating elements of the film is the progression of Caesar’s character, from innocent baby to a somewhat malicious leader of a revolution.  Special mention: when Caesar speaks English.  Perfectly timed and quite affecting.

However a lot of the film feels like a giant cliché.  Sometimes it feels like the writers got stuck trying to represent CHIMP DOMINATION, resorting to the ridiculous.  The majority of the characters seem a bit one dimensional, the stereotypical villains in particular, so you don’t really give a rats when the inevitable happens.

Overall, predictable, but has its moments.  Go for the chimps, not the people.

P.S. This movie is a giant spoiler for Planet of the Apes.  Just sayin’.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Average

This review was by Danielle Muir.