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andy serkis

RN 1/5: Dawn, from the Planet of the Apes

By Audio and Rancho Notorious

Kailey is sick this week so Doug Dillaman fills in along with spe­cial guest Sarah Watt from the Sunday Star-Times: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Calvary are reviewed and Dan inter­views Dan Barrett from Weta Digital about per­form­ance cap­tured apes. (Sorry, this one is a bit epic. We need a clock in the studio.

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Review: The Hobbit- An Unexpected Journey and Love Is All You Need

By Cinema and Reviews

It may be play­ing in cinemas but I’m not entirely con­vinced that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – and, by exten­sion, the forth­com­ing Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again – is actu­ally cinema. At least not cinema the way that this par­tic­u­lar old geez­er remem­bers it. First, let us put aside the tech­no­lo­gic­al innov­a­tion for a few para­graphs and focus on the story. These films have been been cre­ated to deliv­er an exper­i­ence to exist­ing fans of the Lord of the Rings films and is argu­ably even more tailored to their needs than, say, the Twilight fran­chise is to their fans. It cer­tainly makes as few con­ces­sions to the neutral.

Fans from Bratislava to Beirut want to spend as much time as pos­sible in Middle Earth and writer-director Peter Jackson deliv­ers – to the extent that sev­er­al famil­i­ar char­ac­ters make inel­eg­ant cameo appear­ances and the audi­ence gets to spend con­sid­er­able time accli­mat­ising. It really doesn’t mat­ter that I think the whole thing faffs around for far too long and already feels hyper-extended. Criticising The Hobbit for length is fall­ing in to the trap of review­ing the film you wish you were watch­ing instead of the one in front of you.

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Review: The Adventures of Tintin, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, The Muppets, The Salt of Life, The Iron Lady and Melancholia

By Cinema and Reviews

Like stu­dents swot­ting for exams New Zealand film dis­trib­ut­ors seem to have run out of year for all the films they have to release so there are some really big names being squeezed into the next two weeks. If you can’t find some­thing to watch on – the inev­it­ably wet – Boxing Day next Monday, then I sus­pect you don’t really like movies at all. And if that sounds like you, why are you still reading?

The biggest of the big names this Christmas has got to be The Adventures of Tintin. Despite Steven Spielberg’s name on the tin, it’s almost a loc­al pro­duc­tion when you con­sider the tech­no­logy and skills that went into its man­u­fac­ture, so we all have a small stake in its suc­cess. Luckily, Europe has embraced it so a second film has already been con­firmed – and will be made here.

But enough of the cheer­lead­ing – what did I think of it? It’s good, really good. The per­form­ance cap­ture and char­ac­ter design works bet­ter than ever before, Spielberg has embraced the free­dom from the laws of phys­ics that anim­a­tion allows and throws the cam­era around with gay aban­don – but always with pan­ache and not to the point of motion sick­ness. Many of the visu­al gags are ter­rif­ic and Andy Serkis as Haddock proves that there is no one bet­ter at act­ing under a lay­er of black dots and ping pong balls.

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Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Horrible Bosses and Larry Crowne

By Cinema and Reviews

Rise of the Planet of the Apes posterBack in 1968 the world was amazed to see a simian-looking creature dis­play­ing rudi­ment­ary (and yet clearly) human qual­it­ies. But enough about my birth, I’m here to talk about Planet of the Apes, the night­mar­ish vis­ion of a world turned upside down: apes that speak, humans that are mute and enslaved, oran­gutans doing “sci­ence”. And of course, the big shock back then was that “it was Earth all along” – we’d caused this cata­strophe ourselves with our envir­on­ment­al pig-headedness and our nuc­le­ar arrog­ance. The suc­cess of that blis­ter­ingly effect­ive ori­gin­al promp­ted sev­er­al sequels to dimin­ished effect – although the sight (in Beneath the Planet of the Apes) of Charlton Heston push­ing the final atom­ic but­ton to des­troy the plan­et in dis­gust at the whole sorry mess was seared on to my child­hood brain forever.

In 2001 the series got the re-boot treat­ment cour­tesy of Tim Burton, a mis­cast Mark Wahlberg (when is he ever not?) and the final tri­umphant dis­play of latex ape mask tech­no­logy. Now the apes are back and there’s no sign of rub­ber any­where to be found – except in some of the human per­form­ances per­haps. Rise of the Planet of the Apes serves as a pre­quel to the Burton film rather than a total from scratch effort – although there’s no equi­val­ent in the ori­gin­al series – and the film does a ter­rif­ic job of set­ting up a story that many of us already know as well as fondly hon­our­ing many details from the ori­gin­al series.

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Review: Water for Elephants, From Time to Time, Burke & Hare, Catfish, Reflections of the Past, Hoodwinked Too and 3D Sex and Zen

By Cinema and Reviews

Water for Elephants posterSomeone described melo­drama to me the oth­er day as “unearned emo­tion” and that’s a help­ful way to look at a few of this week’s offer­ings. Firstly the glossy adapt­a­tion of Sara Gruen’s best­selling nov­el of romance and tragedy at the cir­cus, Water for Elephants. Twilight’s Robert Pattinson plays veter­in­ary stu­dent Jacob who, after the death of his par­ents, runs away to join Christoph Waltz’s strug­gling Depression-era cir­cus. There he falls in love with Waltz’s down­trod­den but beau­ti­ful wife Reese Witherspoon (and also Rosie the down­trod­den but beau­ti­ful new elephant).

Director Francis Lawrence makes a token attempt to show us the gritty and des­per­ate side of Depression life but in the end the high fructose corn syr­up of tra­di­tion­al Hollywood romance smoth­ers everything. Pattinson remains dead behind the eyes as always, Witherspoon fails to con­vince as an acrobat and Waltz repeats his Oscar-winning psy­cho­path­ic Nazi from Inglourious Basterds only without the great Tarantino dialogue.

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