And I’m back! That took a while…I figured I am long overdue for a post. Now that I have free time again *shakes fist at September* I can finally work up the nerve to post new reviews. Yay!
Here is one I wrote in the summer, enjoy!
Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells the now familiar story of man playing god, ignoring all warning signs and messing about in the gene pool. Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, a disease with which his father suffers. Will’s father (played by John Lithgow), a once beloved music teacher has now been reduced to rubble by this cruel disease. Will’s experimentation culminates in the birth of Caeser, a super smart adorable chimp. When Will brings Caeser home to foster him, he is astounded by Caeser’s mental capacity. Things become complicated when Caeser’s sense of independence and rights become more developed and he begins to act out.
The story centered around Caeser (whose movements and facial expressions are brilliantly performed by the fabulous Andy Serkis) is the film’s strongest feature. Caeser is a tragic character caught between two worlds and frustrated at his status as an outsider. His tale is emotionally compelling and exhilarating when he gains the courage to lead. The crowning gem of the movie is Caeser and his fellow apes flight for freedom.
The other half of the film, however, which focuses on Franco’s conflicted emotions as a son and scientist feels half baked in comparison. Rather than fully shape this story, the actors and issues presented are squandered in melodramatic plot turns that are far too sappy to become anything bearing emotional importance to the audience. John Lithgow turns in a particularly overdone performance and Freida Pinto is wasted in an underdeveloped role which evolves into nothing more than her being the film’s token female character. Overall, I thought the script and the onscreen confrontations were childish. Things just don’t add up. Several questions come to mind: I get that these apes are super smart but how does that also make them tactical battle aficionado’s? What gives them all the ability to throw javelins and slings with deadly accuracy? Are these not learned skills? Maybe logical consistency is asking too much. Although the action was fun and Caeser’s story is engrossing, I don’t feel like there was much else there. If you are a big fan of the Planet of the Apes series it would be worth checking this out. Other than that, I’d give it a pass until it hits the small screen.
Splice is Vincenzo Natali’s delightful and disturbing concoction of science, absurd humour, dark sex and of course a monster. An update of Frankenstein in the era of genetic manipulation, Splice takes us into the lives of Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) who are the rockstars of the scientific world. The film begins with them having spliced together pink sluglike blobs named Fred and Ginger from whom they can harvest proteins for the pharmaceutical company funding their experiments. When Clive and Elsa try to request funding for a project that involves splicing human DNA into their creatures they are quickly shut down. Not easily deterred Clive and Elsa decide to go ahead with their project in secret and in a series of escalating dares and temptations, they allow their creature, Dren, to grow into a big problem.
The film had its ups and downs and although the conclusion proved to be a little absurd it ends up going down easy as Natali navigates his audience through strange terrain, all the while maintaining a healthy balance of disturbing plots twists and dark humour. It is able to tackle issues such as genetic manipulation, cloning and definitions of humanity with varying degrees of success. The film’s more unsettling elements spoke to the Cronenberg lover within and had me squirming in delight. Natali’s inclusion of quirky jokes and absurdist situations allows viewers to settle in for an amusing, albeit dark ride. The real element that works in the film is Brody and Polley’s chemistry. Each handles their character with a dark intensity and is able to breathe life into their onscreen relationship in a very believable way. Another definite highlight in this film was the creature, Dren. Created with an almost seamless blend of makeup and CG, Dren is a fascinating and simultaneously skin crawling sight to behold. Dren’s ‘not quite human’ existence is the moral centerpoint of the whole film and serves as a stunning example of what can happen when moral judgements get blurred and situations slip beyond our control.
Although Splice is entertaining and perhaps one of the most creative films in recent years it definitely will not be everyones cup of tea. The film rests firmly in the science fiction/moral parable genre and is not a typical horror film . However, what this film lacks in scares and suspense it more than makes up for in its disturbing storyline which puts an innovative twist on a classic tale.