War for Planet of the Apes (2017) – USA

[NeoFilmShop.com] War for Planet of the Apes (2017) – USA

The finale of the highly successful and critical acclaim trilogy of Planet of the Apes reboot series show precisely how things should be reimagined. Don’t get me wrong, this is no easy journey or mindless summer blockbuster, the latest War is totally dark, bleak and only provides a glimmer of hope if any towards the very end. This is a total war, like history repeating itself, alluding the horrors of Vietnam war and concentration camps and natural disasters. War is not so much between the Apes and Humanity, but rather about a battle within their own self, reason for survival and question of coexistence.

Director Matt Reeves smartly interlink all these horrors and thematic moments into three long acts. The first act, we get an ambush, a possible peacemaking and jungle life for the apes. However, the 2nd act goes brutal and the murder of Caesar (played so well by Andy Serkis) by an army of surviving humans lead by the ruthless colonel (played excellently by Woody Harrelson). The final act is essentially the epic war that follows in the journey of self destruction.

Films like these makes you think and it’s though provoking nature extend way beyond after the film credits rolls. It leaves you wondering why they end up fighting, allows you to relate and allude to the current state of the world and ultimate the human condition. The acting is top notched and the CGI is almost outstanding as Caesar is so well acted that you cry and emote with him through his struggle and inner journey and discovery of hate and vengeance and how he managed to be consumed by it. Harrelson gives his best performance yet as the conflicted villain who is essentially acting out of his dire situation to exist. The duo confrontations provides the film greatest standoff.
See it on the big screen.

I rated it 4/5

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You Get Me (2017) – USA

[NeoFilmShop.com] You Get Me (2017) – USA

In light of some really good Netflix original movies, You Get Me is a poor man’s Fatal Attraction and it’s actually really terrible. I am not talking about the acting, as save for the three attractive leads played by Bella Throne as the psycho, Halston Sage playing the high school sweetheart and Taylor John Smith as the guy caught in the middle of the mess. The film is actually watchable as the leads are following through with what is possibly the most badly written script that is gapping with holes every corners it managed to turn. If this is not what you call bad filmmaking all together, I am not entirely sure what adjectives or verbs I should really be using.

There is simply no logic in this film and it gets to the point where suspending belief is no longer an option. Bad films are hard to come by and this one stands firm as one of the worst Netflix release thus far in what can be called a pretty good year. In fact, it makes you want to simply pop in the Fatal Attraction DVD just to show how this kind of films should be done. When the finale involve guns and golf sticks and a pool, look no further before you ended up being either shooting yourself in shame or congratulating yourself for finishing this underrated experience.

I rated it 1.5/5

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Alien: Covenant (2017) – USA

[NeoFilmShop.com] Alien: Covenant (2017) – USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Director Ridley Scott goes back to the basics and 40 years of Alien films experience to craft a horror thriller that fills the gap between The first Alien (1979) and Prometheus (2012) films both directed by himself. The effect is less deep in its philosophy than Prometheus and more straight forward Alien mutations and reproductions direct action scenes. I wouldn’t go on to say that this is a fan tribute as it feels like one of those horror “final destination” style movies where you expect then next character to be killed, only the question of how. The deaths do really get immensely visual and outright bloody to excellent effect.

The idea of robots becoming more human than human and outsmarting humans are prominent themes in Scott’s previous classics like Bladerunner. Michael Fassbender plays the aforementioned roles in the form of David and Walter. His stoic mysterious presence works to a certain degree. Katherine Waterston manages to impress as the heroine of the film and the calmness in face of adversity is shown in the finale fight scene with the alien nemesis outside the spacecraft.
All in all, Alien: Covenant is an entertaining popcorn affair and also showing that Ridley Scott at 80 is still very much on top of his game and this genre is like producing his own baby Alien. For a bridge of gap between the two better films, it is probably not necessary, but I am not complaining.

I rated it 3.5/5

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Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – USA

[NeoFilmShop.com] Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – USA

The latest reboot of Spider-Man is a good one and surprisingly light hearted in tone and speed. Setting the film in high school arena and with Peter Parker during his 15 years old experience and Tom Holland is perfect for the role as the impatient and not so professional friendly neighbour superhero. What we managed to get is a highly entertaining film that never take itself too seriously and translating to an extremely fun ride. There are some standout sequences, namely the ATM robbery, the falling of the lift at Washington DC and the cutting of the ferry in half.
Michael Keaton plays the key villain and being a former Batman, the casting add an extra layer of superhero fun. Keaton shows great presence as the father of Parker’s love interest as well as the disgruntled employee turned super killer weapon developer. There is next to no doubt that head to head, our Spidery hero is no match for him. Robert Downey Jr appears in an extended cameo as the mentor, while Marisa Tomei plays the aunt, while still looking stunning at the ripe old age of 52. Zendaya playing the high school love interest is rather lacking as the duo display zero on screen chemistry despite being real life couples. Jacob Batalon simply made the most his scenes as Parker’s best buddies and partner in crime and they are mostly funny and charming.

All in all, this latest Spider-Man adventure is an immensely fun ride from start to finish and coupled with great performance from our neighbourhood hero in Tom Holland. Wait for the mid end-credit special clip, but don’t bother with the final clip after the credits. It’s been a great summer of superhero films with Wonder Woman and now this one, bring on the sequel.

I rated it 4/5

In cinemas now

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To The Bone (2017) – USA

[NeoFilmShop.com] To The Bone (2017) – USA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Released earlier in the year during the Sundance Film Festival, To The Bone, is another successful distribution attempt of Netflix after OKJA. The film highlights a sensitive topic of anorexia and how it affects those around them and coming to terms of the condition. Starring the lovely Lily Collins who is almost unrecognisably skinny battles self inflicted inner demons and it is her natural and subtle acting ability that ends up carrying the film through its up and down journey in highlighting a brief period in time of someone fighting anorexia. Keanu Reeves adds little to the role of unconventional doctor, as he is given relatively limited screen-time to be truly effective. Instead, we get to see interactions between different anorexia suffers and how they go about their treatment.
The little romantic subplot sort of works between Collins and the motor mouth talker Alex Sharp. The scene in the Chinese restaurant provides the film with one of its sparkle moments. The family subplot shows how messy and complicated her family structure is, with three “mothers” at her therapy session shouting at each other. Collins’s sister played by Liana Liberato manages to make most of her limited scenes with her outburst at the therapy remaining one of the film higher emotional point.
All in all, To The Bone is not one of those film that tries to sensationalise a disease and make it into some melodrama. It believes in keeping things simple and letting it plays out in front of you. After all, they are still ordinary human beings going about their lives with an anorexia condition. This way, the film works as it looks and feel real and with a brilliant Lily Collins excelling in the lead role.

I rated it 4/5

Out on Netflix

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Writing about Asian and World cinema since 2004 (Member of Film Critic Circle of Australia and Australian Academy Cinema Television Arts)