Movie Review Catch-Up

This whole having a job thing is rubbish sometimes, especially when it gets in the way of my blogging (only joking boss, in case you’re reading this). Why can’t someone just pay me to write about films? Anyway here are a few of the films I’ve been watching recently…



Richard Linklater’s epic story of a family growing up and evolving over the space of 12 years is about as high concept as you can get. Fortunately the concept works for the most part and the result is unlike anything you’ll have seen before.

Having the same actors play the same roles over the course of such a long period of time could easily have ended up being a gimmick, but Linklater handles it superbly and adds the perfect amount of depth to pretty much every main character so that we’re genuinely interested in how their particular story plays out. We’re happy when they’re happy, sad when they’re sad and eager to see them succeed in life. This is because Linklater has created what feels like a genuine snapshot of real family life: it’s not always happy, it’s rarely glamorous and you won’t find too many big set pieces, but pretty much everyone will relate in some way to one of the characters.

It’s not perfect, however. The concept that it’s filmed over 12 years is shoved down our throat a little too often with shots of the latest technology or what new music they’re listening to. We can tell they’re getting older; we don’t need constantly reminding. There’s also the argument that Linklater’s script becomes a little too pretentious at times (something which could also be said of his Before… films), particularly in the latter stages as our central character Mason (Ellar Coltrane) grows up to be a little on the self-righteous side.

Those are very minor flaws, however, and Boyhood is without a doubt one of the best films of the year so far. It’s a once in a lifetime concept and one that deserves to be seen and cherished.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

In an age of remakes and reboots, many fail to hit the mark by a long way, but 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes managed to capture both a new audience and fans of the original films. Despite the fact that the titles of the two films should have been the other way around, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes manages to take what was so good about the first film and ups the stakes in terms of action and character.

As with Rise…, the apes are by far the most interesting characters in the film, with their human counterparts feeling lightweight by comparison. The power struggle between Caesar and his aggressive second-in-command Koba is fascinating and, again, far more absorbing than the mirrored altercations within the human camp, although there are some decent performances from Gary Oldman and Jason Clarke.

What takes DotPotA (yes it’s a ridiculous acronym) to the next level, however, is the unbelievable CGI and motion capture by Andy Serkis as Caesar. It’s literally almost impossible to tell what’s real and what is computer generated and there’s never a moment where you think the apes are anything but 100% real. The personality that they have puts many real-life actors to shame; they exhibit a full range of emotions and some of the nuances in the CGI and mo-cap are astonishing.

The majority of recent blockbusters have really upped their game and this is another example. It still has all the big set pieces you’d expect but it supplements them with a genuinely absorbing story. It’s not afraid to do something a little different (having a lot of the film in subtitles) and actually provide something for audiences to think about.

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

The Inbetweeners 2

The Inbetweeners 2

It’s quite staggering to believe that The Inbetweeners Movie is the most successful British comedy film of all time, and with that in mind a sequel was inevitable. It’s milking it, sure, but fortunately there’s more than enough here to warrant a second trip out with the hapless foursome.

The Inbetweeners is a pretty divisive TV show; it’s probably what you’d class as ‘British’ humour but it also most definitely appeals to the slightly younger audience as it’s the relatability (pretty sure I just made that word up) of the characters and the situation that resonates with so many.

As with the first film, there’s little to no story to speak of. Rather than on holiday in Crete, they’re essentially just on holiday in Australia, and a series of amusing set pieces ensue. But you don’t really watch The Inbetweeners for the story. You watch it for those set pieces, whether it’s Will trying his hand at camp fire karaoke or Neil’s IBS playing up on a water slide, and also for the interactions between the friends, most of which is lewd and fairly offensive. It’s not high brow in any shape or form but fans of the show shouldn’t be too disappointed.

It’s a little more erratic than the first film; the highs are arguably higher but the lows are definitely lower and the jokes don’t always land as they were clearly intended. The characters are also starting to become parodies of themselves, heightening their personality traits to sometimes obnoxious proportions.

However, like I said before, fans of the show will find plenty to like here and that is the film’s target audience, so it would have to go down as a success.

3 and a half pigeons3.5/5 pigeons

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24 thoughts on “Movie Review Catch-Up

  1. Good to have you back buddy and great write-ups all round. Loved Boyhood and Apes, but not caught up with The Inbetweeners 2 yet. Don’t be a stranger!

  2. ruth says:

    Haven’t seen Boyhood yet but man everyone seems to love that movie, now I’m worried it won’t measure up to the hype, ahah. Just kidding, I honestly don’t know how I’d feel about it but I’m curious.

    Yay on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, glad you loved it as much as I did!

    • I think you’d really like Boyhood Ruth, it’s definitely worth giving a go, if just to see what the concept is like. Fortunately the concept works really well! As for Apes, I thought it was what a blockbuster should be and the CGI was just phenomenal!

  3. Nice write up, Chris. DPA and Boyhood I will make an effort to rent.

  4. ckckred says:

    I didn’t mind the cultural references too much in Boyhood (I thought it helped to identify the timeline). A truly amazing movie that may be Linklater’s best. Nice review.

  5. Tyson Carter says:

    Lazy. Disappearing like this, who takes a blog hiatus?! 😉

    Good to see you writing bud. Inbetweeners 2 has been destroyed on the blogging circuit so glad you liked it. I thought it was very funny 🙂

    • I know, right? I can’t even make excuses like having babies and that!

      I haven’t seen any reviews on here of the The Inbetweeners 2 but sounds a little harsh if it was slammed. For its target audience I think it was fairly spot on.

  6. Abbi says:

    Loved the first two. Didn’t care for the last. Although I am a big fan of the show when you spend too much time with these four you realise what reprehensible human beings they are.

  7. Stu says:

    I’ve only seen Boyhood out of these three but it’s my film of the year so far (not that that’s a hotly-contested award, or anything). I’d hoped to see Dawn…at the cinema but have probably missed my chance now; haven’t even seen Guardians of the Galaxy either. Still, I’m glad I’m not the only one wondering why the names weren’t the other way round!

  8. mettelray says:

    Right there with ya, working a full time job is just awful sometimes. Like, you either work or you’re too tired mentally to write about things you’ve watched late at night or something. Oh well.. but you’ve at least seen good movies it seems, at least the ratings indicate a solid movie watching, so that’s good I guess. 🙂

  9. chris2508 says:

    Loved Rise of the Planet Apes and the theme of how alike humans and the apes really are.

  10. movierob says:

    nice to see you back in action Chris! Of these, only seen Boyhood so far which I liked a lot, but still didnt find it perfect!

  11. Hmm, I think I’ll skip watching The Inbetweeners! Sometimes I find British comedy really funny, and other times… Glad you enjoyed Boyhood. I was pretty critical of it in my review, but I still liked it overall.

  12. table9mutant says:

    Great reviews – I loved Boyhood & Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Think I can wait to watch The Inbetweeners 2 at home, though. 🙂

  13. Tom says:

    A couple of really solid titles here man, although I am yet to get into The Inbetweeners. My parents really quite like it though, maybe I should suggest them seeing the movie if its anything like the show.

    I never realized how ridiculous the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ acronym really is! That’s too funny man.

    And lastly, we are in perfect synch on Boyhood; it was so fantastic. An utterly different experience and that’s always what I’m seeking when I go to the movies

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