The Week In Screenings Part XX

Tuesday, August 2 2011
The Week In Screenings Part XX

Sometimes a film poster can really miss-sell a title to you, the case in point here being the new film Beginners, a film I was on the fence about seeing, for some reason that poster of the three lead actors standing against a plain white background really didn’t sell the film to me. It conjured up images of a Love Actually and other average middle of the road comic/dramatic/relationship films. But finding myself with a few hours to kill I decided to catch it as the cast was good and seeing any film at the cinema always gives it its best shot at being good.

Ewan McGregor plays Oliver, a withdrawn and depressed graphic artist who’s struggling to come to terms with the death of his father, played to perfection by Christopher Plumner, who came out shortly after the death of his wife, though Oliver seems to find some happiness when he meets free spirited Anna at a party, while he’s dressed as Sigmund Freud. Luckily I’d completely got the wrong impression of the film, plus as soon as the director’s name came up, Mike Mills, I knew I was in for something that was actually right up my street. Mills had directed the 2005 slacker comedy/drama Thumbsucker, which although not perfect, did display an interesting eye and an emerging style that sat well with me. Beginners turns out to be a big step forwards for him and here he feels much more assured with characters and story, delivering an original and moving tale of loneliness, love and last chances.

I’ve always been a huge Planet Of The Apes fan, the five films in the series work perfectly together and form a fascinating and intelligent story, one that’s managed to stand the test of time and still seem relevant and fresh to this day. Now we’re heading back to the very beginning of the Apes story with Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.

Here we’re treated to what exactly caused Earth’s evolutionary process to be turned on its head and leave talking apes in charge of dumb humans. James Franco is idealistic scientist Will Rodman whose research into a cure of Alzheimer’s has unexpected side effects on his ape test cases. When faced with having to destroy all his test apes, Will secretly adopts a baby ape, Caesar, who turns out to be the most intelligent of the lot. As Caesar grows, so does his intelligence and he starts to see mankind for the cruel master that it really is.

Director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) does a solid job with this interesting prequel, but the star of the film really is the motion capture that brings Caeser to life, Andy Serkis provided physical elements of the character while Weta transformed that into a living breathing creature, one that really is the centre of the film and whose transformation to Ape leader you have to be convinced by. It’s a fun film and I enjoyed it, but I would have enjoyed it even more if I hadn’t seen the final theatrical trailer a few days before at the cinema, a trailer that shows you the entire film in edited form from beginning to end, this one is a real case of showing far too much in a trailer. Do try and avoid this trailer if you can, it does a great job of trying to spoil a really fun film. 

My quest to keep seeing the blockbusters in 2D continued on Saturday with Captain America, it’s not that I don’t enjoy 3D, sometimes it can be great, but it seems to get slapped on a lot of films now that just don’t need it, but also weren’t designed for it. I actually preferred the older 3D films with their throwing things at you gimmicks, it felt more fun. So how was Captain America in 2D? As a matter of fact it was great, maybe not quite as fun as Thor, but still a solid summer blockbuster and a comic book adaptation that understands how to embrace its comic origins.

Director Joe Johnston delivers an action-packed two hour adventure story and revels in the opportunities that making a WW2 film allows him, heaping on snarling Army officers, bumbling scientists and evil Nazi agents, while Chris Evans gives it all he’s got as the red, white and blue superhero who likes nothing better than taking on the bad guys. It’s a great fun film and sets the scene perfectly for 2012 eagerly awaited Avengers film, of which I’m just trying to figure out how they’re going to give everyone involved enough screen time.