Movie Review: Dawn Of the Planet of the Apes

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Dear Michael Bay: this is how you make a CGI-heavy action film where the human characters actually matter.  “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” continues the story from “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” a tale that has grown into an epic saga in which layers upon layers of story are added with each passing scene.

You find yourself immersed this post-apocalyptic world (supposedly San Francisco but looks more like Vancouver, neighbour to its North), and more importantly, caring about the human characters.  They play an integral part of the battle against the Apes, and the allegories towards our society are frequent but not overwhelming.

The special effects were top-notch; the apes look as real as ever.  And huge props again to Andy Serkis, who portrays Caesar, the leader of the Apes.  His abilities to bring CGI characters to life through his motion censor suit (as he’s done as Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films and “King Kong”) is absolutely amazing.

Twice now I have been surprised at how good the new saga of “Apes” films are, since the bombastic and confusing Tim Burton / Mark Walhberg version.  I am definitely looking forward to heading to the theatres for the next instalment.

Movie Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Hearing nothing but bad things about the newest instalment (a so-called reboot) of the Transformers franchise from my friends and critics alike, I went to see the film anyway, for reasons that aren’t quiet enough to justify my trip to the theatre:

1. I wanted to see just how bad it was, and whether I can still derive some enjoyment out of it, and;

2. It was late on a Thursday night and my choices were limited.

In lieu of the fact that everyone I know trashed the film, my bar was set so low that it was almost impossible for me to hate it. And I can’t say I did, because at this point, I have lost faith in Michael Bay; to me, he will always be the guy who uses the same technique (that signature low-angle slo-mo shot of a dude stepping out of a car looking like he’s badass? check) and whose movies are always at least 20 minutes too long.

Recently, I have funnelled my hatred towards Michael Bay films into laughter as I was once again in awe of how bad his latest work is.  This film is another instance where Michael Bay and the people who produces these Transformers movies know that people will go to these films no matter how garbage they are.

However, I can’t say I hate this film, per se, because it features my home city of Hong Kong getting destroyed (you see it in the trailer so no spoilers), especially two of the city’s architectural monstrosities.  That, at a personal level, at least, makes this film not a complete waste of money to go to.

If you are ambivalent to seeing Hong Kong get demolished (It was enjoyable for me also because now I can say I’ve walked the same street as Bumblebee and Optimus Prime!), then don’t watch it.

As a side note: some local Hong Kong people are enraged over a line said in the film that promotes mainland Chinese propaganda, in selling its affections towards the city of Hong Kong.  But when you put that in a Michael Bay movie, who cares?