Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Since the first King Kong movie in 1933, many ape movies have made their mark on the silver screen. But with each and every movie, they have advanced in terms of technology and the magical experience they can provide. From monkey masks to actors playing in a motion-capture monkey, ape movies have come a long way. So, for the movie’€™s astounding visual effects and the applaudable story, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is definitely one of the best movies of the year.

The movie is set in San Francisco in the near future. The film opens at Gen Sys; a genetic therapy phamaceutical company, where a geneticist Will Rodman (James Franco) has been using apes for tests in developing a drug which could cure Alzheimer’€™s. He is desparate for the drug because his father Charles (John Lithgow) suffers from it. Will also has adopted a chimp named Caesar, who gets orphaned when his genetically enhanced mother gets killed after running wild at his lab.

But the story is less about Will or his father as much as it is about Caesar who emerges as the hero. He is not a mere chimp, he is a child; a very bright one indeed. He isn’€™t just doing acrobatic jumps in his attic playroom or hanging on to cords and swinging on the ceiling lamp of the kitchen, he is actually reaching for destiny higher than a cookie jar.

Andy Serkis playing the monkey in motion capture, gives life to the creature. The time travel from youth to maturity is presented in a beautiful sequence, where he climbs the tops of the highest tree in Muir Woods as a young chimp and then is shown staring across the San Francisco bay, fully grown.

As a matured ape, he is agressive, but his first act of violence is in defense to his ‘€œgrandfather’€. That is when the real action that we oh-so waited for begins. Caesar attacks the neighbour after he sees him threatening Charles for accidentally wrecking his car. For that, he gets sent to an animal shelter, where he is ill-treated by the warden and a sadistic guard. Among all the other brawn chimps, Caesar knows better, so he makes an escape and filches a supply of the wonder drug and gives it the chimps, an orangutan and a gorilla. He liberates the others, playing the Alpha, leading them to revolt against the human opressors.

Will’€™s ambition to improve life through science is questionable. Frieda Pinto, playing his girlfriend is the one who raises the most questions. While revolting, there are times when the apes stop short of harming their opressors, making us feel as if the chimps are more humane than human themselves. The story is about revolt, a question mark on science and so much more. Everyone can have his or her own interpretation to how the story runs but if  that isn’€™t what you’€™re looking for, it is still a joy ride.

The performances by the actors are fine. Pinto stays in her role as the vet and Will’€™s girlfriend, but there is nothing more special than that. Director Rupert Wyatt has taken a big leap with this movie after his 2008 debut ‘€œThe Escapist’€. The movie is a technical landmark and Serkis as Caesar has a huge part in making it happen. In fact, he might even put on a challenge for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to give him an Oscar, even though he is never seen on screen.

The movie is fantastic and every scene grabs your attention. It can put you in your seats, and without a muscle moving make every inch of you twist and turn. The movie is a triumph of spectacle; a must watch.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

When the best is left for last.

It is sad for a Harry Potter fan like me that it all ends with the Deathly Hallows II. There goes the anxiety and the excitement which arrives with the release of the each movie of the series. But it is probably for the best. It is always better when we know the right time to let go off things we love. So there I was in the houseful theatre eagerly waiting for the beginning of the end.

The finale of J.K Rowling’€™s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows had been split into two parts. While the first part was slow, with Harry, Ron and Hermione grasping at the straws, struggling with their friendship and their lack of direction, the second part is fast paced and has shown the trio’€™s bond stronger than ever. The finale is a treat for all the committed Harry Potter fans and it can also put the new comers in their seat.

The movie is just over two hours in length, making it the shortest of all the Harry Potter series but still the best so far. The story picks up just where the first half ends. The three sorcerers are on their quest for the remaining horcruxes, objects that contain pieces of Lord Voldemort’€™s dark soul. During the search, the trio find themselves in dangerous situations, managing escapes and donning disguises. All the action is set at a tremendous pace which succeeds in giving one an adrenaline rush, but it also comes with the ever-so-prized special moments of the beloved characters. There are the classic punch lines which we are accustomed to in a Potter film, in addition to those magical moments like the kiss between Ron and Hermione. Director David Yates has not failed to give us those shining instances that we so adore. The escape from Gringotts on a dragon is simply breathtaking and the final battle at Hogwarts is totally epic. Every actor has played his/her part marvelously, as they always have. Ron and Hermione are at their best and so are the rest of the Hogwarts members. We have seen the trio literally grow up on screen and they have matured not only as wizards but also as individual actors in their own right.

As the last film of seven, The Deathly Hallows Part II reveals all the secrets we have been waiting to hear. The pieces of the puzzle finally come together and give us the whole picture. Severus Snape’€™s character comes in a whole new light and he emerges as one of the heroic figures rather than an evil one. There are many surprises in store, the greatest being one particular memory of Snape’€™s which not only reveals a lot about his character but also serves as the crucial fact during the battle. Alan Rickman has given a heart-wrenching performance which is one of the most memorable of all time. There is Dumbledore’€™s as well. Since the sixth film, we were presented with a more allusive side of the Hogwarts headmaster wherein more questions were raised than those answered. The Deathly Hallows Part II again elucidates those secrets from Dumbledore’€™s past. This part shows Neville Longbottom’€™s character to be more than just a background comic slapstick. While Harry has been destined to greatness, Neville had to work of it. The unsung hero, who almost became the chosen one, is instrumental in supporting Harry and finally gets his moment of glory, and what a moment indeed (the entire theatre was filled with applauses, so you should get the idea).

But then again it all comes to the epic battle between Harry and Lord Voldemort. This isn’€™t just a fight between these two, but between good and evil. Hogwarts is immersed in battle where teachers, students, ghosts even the armours play their role. During the darkest time, there is no separation of houses, students from all the houses (excluding Slytherin house, obviously) unite together to save their school as well as their world. There is a lot of death and destruction during this historic battle. Hogwarts falls and crumbles, only to rise back up of course. Technically, I don’€™t think the 3D effect was necessary. The movie was magnificent in itself and the 3D didn’€™t serve much. And, well if you know the book by heart and want to see every detail as it was described, you might be a bit let down during the battle. But, then again, the whole book can’€™t be shown in a movie and the modified parts have only made it a more exciting watch. One of the prevailing themes of all the Potter films is that love- real, strong, genuine love- can overcome adversity and ultimately protect you from evil. No one will be disappointed in the scene between Harry and his parents where we are at once confronted with a great sense of emptiness but also a resounding comfort knowing that Harry has never been alone.

Overall the movie is a roller coaster ride. It has its high and its lows, there are twists and turns. It is thrilling and scary but when the ride is over you want to go through it all over again. A great movie and one of the best finales of all time. Harry Potter has indeed ended but it has left with a BANG!

 

Brainwashing Your Face – Exit Through the Gift Shop

— Ofelia Sta. Maria

A few weeks ago, an image of Osama Bin Laden’€™s face painted on the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was reported to be Banksy’€™s latest stunt. This could immediately sound like a hoax (it was), were it reported under a different name, but it was Banksy, the one who painted nine images on the walls of the West Bank in Palestinian territories. Banksy, who succeeded in placing his own work in between classic, century-old museum art pieces; Banksy, the world’€™s greatest and sneakiest freak of nature.

After thousands of canvases, successful installations, empty paint cans, and success in avoiding the cops, he had found another way to make art. It was only last year that the world saw a full-length Banksy film documentary, and we thought we’€™d finally catch a clearer glimpse of him, but we don’€™t. If anything, more questions are raised.

Exit Through the Gift Shop can and will make people wonder how the graffiti ninja did it, but it’€™s possible that he’€™s conned his audience. Again.

What happens in the film: Thierry Guetta, a French man selling vintage clothes for a living, is obsessed with filming everything around him. He finds out that his cousin is Space Invader, a French Street artist known for his mosaic tile works. Because of this, Thierry developed an interest for street art. He started following different street artists and eventually meets Obey (Andre the Giant has a Posse) creator Shepard Fairey. He follows Fairey and other artists wherever they go’€”filming the process of printing and stenciling to the installation of the pieces on the streets.

Eventually, Thierry hears about Banksy, who surprisingly agrees to be filmed. The French man follows Banksy everywhere and when all the footage is done and edited, Banksy decided that Thierry’€™s just ‘€œsomeone with mental problems who happened to have a camera,’€ and what he made ‘€œwas an hour and a half of unwatchable nightmare trailers.’€ Banksy’€™s solution: Thierry should let go of the camera so he can do the documentary himself, and go out and make art. Thierry obeys this, starts calling himself ‘€œMr. Brainwash,’€ produces one of the highest selling art shows, and sells meaningless pieces adored by (rich) people and the media.

This, again, sparks the never-ending debate on how important a piece of art is, and how it’€™s supposed to be appreciated. Thierry wheatpasting a huge print of his face in the streets makes for interesting debate on the philosophy of street art. If you’€™d interpret this as a real documentary, you’€™ll see how Banksy experiences absurd real-life events on overnight artists like Thierry, and how even he’€”a street art god’€”cannot control it. While the Frenchman spent just a few months working on a show and became more focused on its publicity rather than the pieces, everyone he filmed in the beginning showed passion; working on their craft for years (Fairey specifically mentioned that he has been doing it for more than 10 years).

‘€œMost artists take years to develop their style, Thierry seemed to miss out on all those bits,’€ said Banksy.

Let’€™s say everything in the movie actually happened’€”some French guy with a video camera happens to be Space Invader’€™s cousin, was entertained by Fairey, got ahold of Banksy (who is possibly not human), and became a millionaire because of half-baked, reprinted copies of photoshopped crap dubbed ‘€œart’€’€”isn’€™t it just as interesting as the idea that none of those things really happened?

Thierry knew nothing about street art before hanging out with the ones who live by it, but once he got the idea, he became a street artist himself. If the documentary’€™s a hoax, on the other hand, you will still see a commentary on how to be an artist, and what is needed to fully become one. Being able to print large papers to stick on walls does not make one an artist; that having a moniker and a Sharpie does not immediately make one a graffiti artist.

Whether it’€™s fact or fiction, this film’€™s a ten. And it didn’€™t even need Beck’€™s cameo to prove that it’€™s awesome.

The great thing about this whole thing is it doesn’€™t even matter anymore if the movie’€™s a fake or not. Either way, it is a work that illustrates something that has happened, is happening, and will happen with this counterculture and the whole art world in general.What we get from this is another form of Banksy’€™s genius. Once again, he did something to confuse and entertain the audience.

This is no spoiler, but pay attention to what happens to the huge slab of concrete at the end of the film. Read what’€™s written on it and look at what it’€™s doing. Never has there been any kind of dystopian suggestion that is so hilarious, serious, and entertaining all at the same time.

‘€œThat’€™s why I call myself Mr. Brainwash. It’€™s because everything that I do… somewhere… it brainwash your face!’€ explained Thierry.

Truer words have never been spoken.

 

Rio

Prepare yourselves for 96 minutes of full and fun entertainment- adventure, comedy, fun, romance and little bit of action as well- Rio has it all! Produced by Blue Sky Studios and directed by Carlos Saldanha, this animated film is set, as its title suggests, in the Brazilian city, Rio de Janeiro. While the original theatre going film was released in 3D, the DVD version of Rio is equally as captivating in its portrayal of Blu, a blue baby Spix’€™s macaw, and his adventures.

Blu (Jesse Eisenberg) is the product of a failed smuggling attempt. After being rescued and raised by Linda (Leslie Mann) in Minnesota after she finds him in a box lying on the road, Blu begins leading a life atypical to most of his other feathered friends. As he was smuggled as a baby, who hadn’€™t learnt to fly, Blu never thinks about flying high into the sky in the years that follow. Instead he remains a flightless bird with intimate knowledge of the tricks of human life and of physics as well (surprising, but yes he does!). He knows how to open a locked cage, how to walk, how to open a soda can and so many others.

Blu is forced to return to his birthplace when Túlio (Rodrigo Santoro), a Brazilian ornithologist, insists he mate with Jewel (Anne Hathaway) and save his species from extinction. Thus the story of Blu, the flightless bird, who prefers being home with Linda in his cage with his veil and little swing, who is forced out into the real world and facing real dangers. The plot is complicated by the beautiful Jewel, who longs to escape and be able to fly freely in the sky forever. Evading the smugglers and, Nigel (Jemaine Clement) the mean cockatoo, the story follows Blu and Jewel’€™s travels, the problems that arise, the friends and enemies they make along the way and the little funny incidents, characteristic of this animation genre.

This is a story about overcoming your fears, believing in yourself and ultimately taking the bold step to be and do something different.  Blu, who has not flown for 15 years, is always scared of plunging into the open air and letting his wings guide him. When he managed to do that, I couldn’€™t help but smile. Blu encapsulates the notion that everyone has their own skills and talents. Though he’€™s not able to fly, it is Blu’€™s knowledge of the other things that make all the difference.

There are some parts of Rio that will literally make you laugh out loud and some that will make you make you go ‘€˜aawwww’€™. The distinctly Brazilian setting offers a glimpse to their rich cultural heritage. The samba beats will make you dance in your seats while the beautiful carnival and the floats are bound to take your breath away. You won’€™t realize how soon the one and half hour has passed.

With no surprise plot twists Rio remains a sweet story of the birds’€™ adventures in Brazil. It’€™s simple and ever pertinent messages of individuality, trust and freedom make it a good watch for both the children and adults alike; you should not miss this movie!