“War for the Planet of the Apes” Earns Another Victory for the Rebooted Franchise

Remember how Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a James Franco-laden disaster with John Lithgow wandering around forgetting everything and apes rampaged over the Golden Gate bridge being attacked by police helicopters? How far we’ve come. This Planet of the Apes reboot may be one of the most artistically successful reboots of a beloved franchise in the history of Hollywood, and it is almost entirely on the strength of the final two films – first with 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and now with War for the Planet of the Apes.

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Cinematic Components Fuel Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”

Introduction

It is a sin to write this.  Mr. Stanley Kubrick told me so:

2001 is a nonverbal experience; out of two hours and 19 minutes of film, there are only a little less than 40 minutes of dialog. I tried to create a visual experience, one that bypasses verbalized pigeonholing and directly penetrates the subconscious with an emotional and philosophic content.1

-Stanley Kubrick

Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey certainly bypasses verbalized pigeonholing, but that doesn’t mean the film defies explanation and discussion.  The present piece will analyze how Kubrick succeeds at the rather lofty goal of creating this  “visual experience” by looking at three key cinematic components that Kubrick uses to tell this story.  First, we’ll look at aural components like dialogue, music, and soundtrack.  Then, we’ll delve into the visual components like special effects and cinematography.  Finally, we’ll deal with thematic components, focusing on Kubrick’s use of archetypes.  Together, these components produce a rare beauty: a pure expression of cinema and the power that it has to inspire the imagination.

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“Alien: Covenant” – a Muted Echo of a Once-Great Franchise

The Alien franchise has been limping along since the early ‘90s, and a covenant with God herself can’t save it from the paucity of original thought on display in Ridley Scott’s latest shade of a film.  Alien: Covenant builds a great starting point, but squanders everything near the end of the first act, and it simply isn’t cohesive or confident enough to recover.  Faint echoes suggest that the terrifying magic of the xenomorph may still be alive, but they never stand out above the background noise.

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The Time Has Come to Make a Choice, Mr. Anderson: “The Matrix” and Romantic Realism

The Matrix is replete with allusions to classic philosophical ideas.  The plot references Plato’s Cave and the world of forms, Descartes’ First Meditation and the evil demon, and Hilary Putnam’s “brain in a vat” scenario – all ruminations on the nature of reality and the possibility that we only perceive an illusion.  The film also considers the tension between free will and determinism, mostly conveying its stance on this fundamental philosophical issue not through long-winded discussion, but through an essential tenet of Romanticism:  the plot hinges on the genuine choices made by its characters.

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Was 1997 the Greatest Year for Science Fiction in Film?

Most years have a few high-quality genre pieces to offer, some years see the release of a genre-defining film and a solid collection of supporting movies, and every now and then there are collisions where two absolute classics are released side-by-side (see:  1968, 1977, and 1982).  But, there’s nothing quite like what happened 20 years ago.  Eleven science fiction films of note were released in 1997, spanning all subgenres.  This piece will discuss each of these films, heralding 1997 as a seminal year for cinematic science fiction.

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“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” – Definitely a Chapter from the Same Book

Guardians of the Galaxy was always the most overtly comedic franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and Vol. 2 follows in those footsteps.  Most films in the MCU employ humor, but none are governed by the success of references, call-backs, meta-humor, and jokes quite like Guardians.  As a result, one’s appreciation for this sequel is going to be heavily dependent on whether or not these attempts at humor land.  If you feel like some of the jokes are a little forced, are over-reliant on pop culture reference, or attempt to recreate similar gags from the original, then you’re going to find Vol. 2 a little derivative and strained.  Otherwise, you’ll have a good time.

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