I’m still unsure on what ground these new Planet of the Apes movies have any right to being nearly as good as they are. The first reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a pleasant surprise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had put good use to what had already been set in motion by its predecessor to create a broader canvas within its narrative, and now with War for the Planet of the Apes, it may very well be all coming to an end. With director Matt Reeves returning behind the camera, it was only fitting to expect more exciting results would come by and my expectations were met perfectly. Knowing that one story was already about to come and meet its own end, what Matt Reeves has formed in War for the Planet of the Apes was only the most fitting conclusion that this new Planet of the Apes franchise has received – enough for me even to say they might as well be a better series than the original films at that.
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Right after Rise of the Planet of the Apes one already knew that the story would continue, and that’s where Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has come by. And if Rise of the Planet of the Apes only had come by in the same manner that any superhero origin story would have played out by setting up the tone for films yet to come, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes already has found itself more room to create a more distinctive identity. But being as I’ve never particularly been the hugest fan of the original film franchise, it’s nice to see that these new films are able to form an identity of their own for it takes me by surprise how much I enjoy them. These aren’t just mindless, disposable blockbusters that only find themselves living within the moment, these films leave behind an impact that calls out for far more – among many reasons I’m glad these new Planet of the Apes movies are around.
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Unlike many other people who’ve also seen the original film directed by Don Siegel I’m not going to spend so much of the review drawing comparisons between said film and this new version as told by Sofia Coppola considering how they’re telling the same story with completely different intentions behind them. It’s easy to admire how Sofia Coppola drastically changes the pace of her own works so that she can set herself out to be a harder filmmaker to pinpoint stylistically, but this isn’t the first time she’s made a period piece – although there’s a certain playfulness that can be detected from her own experiments that allows her to remain distinctive. And although I haven’t consistently loved her work (Lost in Translation still remains the pinnacle of her own directorial efforts to myself), it was easy enough for me to recognize she’s a talented filmmaker to keep my eyes peeled for.
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Netflix’s feature films have never been particularly great ones at that but the idea that Bong Joon-ho was directing one to be distributed under their name only left me feeling optimistic. Bong Joon-ho only left behind a sign of promise when he transitioned towards directing English-language films with Snowpiercer and with his second Korean-American production, what has come by goes beyond just being exciting. It only wears that on the outside, but then comes by something far more thoughtful almost akin to the early work of Steven Spielberg, drawing upon something far more impactful. And as far as Netflix-distributed original features have gone, Okja is not only the most exciting one of the bunch but it also might very well be the best one by far. And by the standards of their original features, it says a lot for what Bong Joon-ho provided in Okja is a fantastic film as expected of him.
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The title alone would give a clear idea of the sort of mood that It Comes at Night would try to evoke, something that director Trey Edward Schultz had only successfully raised questions about from his own audiences with his new outing. But It Comes at Night isn’t so much a horror film, rather instead just something wearing the genre as a disguise for something smaller: maybe it could be within there something even more terrifying on the inside. The past few years have only proven themselves to be fantastic for the horror genre, and now with Trey Edward Schultz bringing out It Comes at Night, that’s perhaps all one needs in order to find a perfect experience with such a work, adding my own decision just to walk in blind – I’ve only avoided marketing and apparently after hearing about how misleading it was. What came by in It Comes at Night, what I can safely say, was yet another horror film adding to a streak of success that the genre has been encountering recently.
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The idea of a biopic about Ian Curtis as directed by a photographer for Joy Division already in itself sounds so promising especially for Joy Division fans. Given as they are one of my all-time favourite bands, a part of my own experience of watching Control may have indeed been influenced by a partial bias rising from the music alone, but nevertheless, the story of Ian Curtis was always one that had broken my heart. Yet years after his own death, Joy Division’s popularity and legacy has only remained so strong. Being a huge fan of their work it was a more harrowing experience than I remember it having been, when I was unfamiliar with Joy Division’s work. After having only gotten into their music all the more just earlier this year, coming back to Control has only reaffirmed why they are one of my favourite bands just as Ian Curtis’s legacy within rock music has lasted through the many years since his untimely death for they nevertheless defined a generation through their small (but excellent) musical output.
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In the same year where Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood have formed a name for themselves through the iconic Dirty Harry comes something of a much slower, more melodramatic pace in The Beguiled. But unlike their usual pairing this wasn’t an action film, just a slow-moving wartime drama. If anything had come out from watching what it was that The Beguiled had presented though, it comes from how this transition had proved more on behalf of Clint Eastwood’s end as an actor given as he would already have been made a more recognizable name from the fact he was made a star from western films or action films. In The Beguiled, a more refined side to him is shown and the results from this rather unexpected Seigel-Eastwood collaboration are at the very least, extremely pleasing. Maybe in some extent it’s from the point of view I’m less interested in, but nevertheless it was nice to see another side to Clint Eastwood here.
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As far as my own opinions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have gone, I think it would be clear enough that I’m not a fan. This was perhaps a prime factor regarding why my own opinion of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy had turned out more favourable than my general opinion of their output and after having gone without seeing it since its theatrical run, it was nice enough to find that it still remained as strong as it did. With this and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, 2014 has proven itself to be the strongest year for the MCU because their offerings then didn’t end up feeling like they were constricted by the grating formula to which Marvel has been sticking to over all the years, which was really refreshing to have found for films that have carried their name. This freedom was what the MCU had needed after all these years and James Gunn only utilizes it in the best manner.
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“The greatest story of the west ever filmed!” is what the marketing insists you, but as to be expected from the hyperbolic labelling George Stevens’s Shane carries enough in order to prove itself an entertaining ride while it lasts. Although I’ve not yet been blown away by any of Stevens’s films, he was always a filmmaker whose work has consistently remained engaging and Shane continues a long streak for him. On some count this is arguably George Stevens’s most famous film and it’s easy to see why, for it shows a beautiful portrait of the American West as occupied by a highly political environment, together with the iconic closing sequence – but I’ve found still carries another particular tendency with Stevens that has always bothered me, but that’s not to say it makes Shane any less of a great western than it is.
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James Gray’s films have always been a struggle for me to get into, so The Lost City of Z wasn’t one I was looking forward to so readily. The sort of material that Gray was set to cover in here wasn’t something I would have expected of him so I was hoping my issues with his body of work would be infrequent here. Thankfully it was the case with The Lost City of Z and as a result, a great film had come right out. For not only is The Lost City of Z the most ambitious that I have seen James Gray reaching through his career as of yet from what I have been able to catch, it also rings back to a classic era of adventure films with its own eerie spin – one if anything that helped in making a great theatrical experience inside of itself, and maybe more.
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