War For The Planet Of The Apes ****
Directed by Matt Reeves
*ing: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller
Not only is War For The Planet Of The Apes a satisfying conclusion to the revamped series, it is also a thought-provoking piece of science-fiction. And it even serves as a loving nod to Hollywood’s past and some of its favourite genres – war (in particular Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now), prison escape, western (particularly those from oeuvre of John Ford and Anthony Mann) and even religious epic (Caesar, the leader of the apes, crystallising into a Moses-like figure by the end). Finally, the movie even shakes hands (paws?) with the original Planet Of The Apes series starring Charlton Heston.
Caesar’s battle for the emancipation of his fellow apes as well as his struggle with his own heart of darkness is powered by Andy Serkis’ potent performance backed-up by brilliant CGI work. Woody Harrelson’s Colonel, a zealot of a military commander, bent on the elimination of the intelligent simians from the face of the planet, owes (deliberately) more than a passing nod to Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz. But he also develops greater depth than originally imagined. This is powerful stuff which questions the essence of our existence and man’s inhumanity to man as well as to other species.
Cut to chase: An effective and thought-provoking conclusion to the trilogy.
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Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ***
Directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg
*ing: Johnny Depp, Geoffrey Rush, Javier Bardem, Brenton Thwaites, Kaya Scodelario
The very first Pirates Of The Caribbean was a nimble and unexpected delight and movie audiences around the world were completely bowled over by Johnny Depp’s marvellous creation, Captain Jack Sparrow. Unfortunately, the immediate sequel was a clunky affair and every single subsequent entry in the franchise since then has seen the quality of the series sink further and further till it plumbed the depths with the fourth movie, 2011’s Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Under these circumstances, I was hardly looking forward to the latest Pirates movie, considering it just another cash grab by Disney. But, surprisingly, the series appears to be afloat again with Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Sure, there are still a lot of barnacles stuck to the ship and its sails could have been easily trimmed to the tune of about 20 minutes. The plot holes are also large enough to sink this vessel. Yet, the movie delivers enough laughs and has more energy than almost the last three movies combined. Depp’s Sparrow does not overwhelm the proceedings and the newcomers to the cast (particularly Kaya Scodelario’s Carina and Javier Bardem’s Captain Salazar) add some zest. Also, look out for some surprise cameos. The movie ends on a particularly satisfying note for long-time fans of the franchise. However, even though the ship has been righted and directors Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg have guided it safely to shore, I still don’t wish to see it set sail again. Disney needs to keep the series berthed for a long, long time.
Cut to chase: The ship has righted itself.
Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only *** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection