Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Plot synopsis: In the wake of a disaster
that changed the world, the growing
 and genetically evolving apes find
themselves at a critical point with the
human race.
 ............................................................................
Runtime: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-fi
violence and action, and brief strong language)
Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Andy Serkis
Action | Drama | Sci-Fi
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continues the human-vs-smart-ape crisis some ten years after the viral outbreak which cost humanity the vast majority of the world's population. The apes are starting to take the lead, but the humans still have the weaponry, with each side fighting harder than ever for domination.

Like the first Planet of the Apes revamping, this film has spades of action, tons of story, and a strong emotional appeal throughout, as it keeps audiences torn between rooting for their own kind and a new race of super-apes.

The film's remarkably static intelligent undercurrent shows the intellectual and emotional growth of Caesar as a leader who can make complex moral decisions and advance his cause, thereby reminding us of what fortifies character. The problem? Well, how about why audiences would ever be expected to go for such a premise behind a remake in the first place?

Movie Review: Deliver Us From Evil (2014)

Plot synopsis: NY police officer Ralph Sarchie
(Eric Bana) investigates a series of crimes. He
joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled
in the rituals of exorcism (Édgar Ramírez), to combat
the possessions that are terrorizing their city.
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 Runtime: 1 hour, 58 minutes
Rated: R (for bloody violence, grisly images, terror throughout,
and language)
 Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Olivia Munn
Crime | Horror | Thriller
Director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Possession of Emily Rose) brings us Deliver Us From Evil, a crude-but-biblically titled horror that feels more like an apologetic video for a fundamentalist Catholic evangelistic effort aimed at lapsed, on-the-fence Catholics in New York as opposed to moviegoers at large.

And while Eric Bana (Hulk, Vantage Point) and Édgar Ramírez (The Bourne Ultimatum) work great together, the writing behind who they are and what they are doing is left hanging in a wishy-washy, unoriginal patchwork of a film that is neither interesting, nor scary.

Movie Review: Maleficent (2014)

Plot synopsis: A vengeful fairy (Angelina Jolie) is driven to curse
 an infant princess (Elle Fanning), only to discover that the child
 may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled
land.
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Walt Disney Pictures
 Runtime: 1 hour, 37 minutes
 Rated: PG (for sequences of fantasy action and violence, including
frightening images)
 Director: Robert Stromberg
 Writers: Linda Woolverton, Charles Perrault (based from the
story "La Belle au bois dormant" by)
 Starring: Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley
 Action | Adventure | Family

Director Robert Stromberg (Pan’s Labyrinth, The Hunger Games) gives us Maleficent, a cunning re-invigoration of the story of Sleeping Beauty, the tale this time told from a much more modern point of view, with a newfound respect for acknowledging the dualistic nature of personhood.

Movie Review: The Quiet Ones (2014)

Plot synopsis: A university professor (Jared Harris) and a team
of his students (Sam Clafin, Erin Richards) conduct an experiment
on a young woman (Olivia Cooke), uncovering
terrifyingly dark and unexpected forces in the process.
_________________________________________________
 Lionsgate
Runtime: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence
and terror, sexual content, thematic material,
language, and smoking throughout)
Director: John Pogue
Writers: Craig Rosenberg, Oren Moverman
Starring: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Olivia Cooke
Horror
Despite its throat-scraping screams of terror, The Quiet Ones is absolutely mute when it comes to contributing to the horror genre in any meaningful way.

An experiment involving students at Oxford in 1974 leads a skeptical few to realizing that the force they seek to reduce to terms most familiar is far more sinister and deadly than they can imagine.

Wanna know what I can't imagine? Why a film with such fine and devoted acting can't do anything but occupy space as another "show up the skeptics" piece of cinema where the supernatural elements are over-utilized and where sudden shocks and cheap "jump" surprises typical of possession-style horrors unjustly dominate the screenplay.

Movie Review: Godzilla (2014)

Plot synopsis: The world’s most famous monster is pitted
against malevolent creatures that, bolstered by humanity’s
scientific arrogance, threaten human existence.
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 Warner Brothers
Runtime: 2 hours, 3 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem,
and creature violence)
Director: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Max Borenstein, Dave Callaham
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan
Cranston
Action | Sci-Fi | Thriller
It works really hard to capture the awe and the essence of the original 1954 classic work. Grading on a curve, it might have succeeded on that level. But for all of its pride and effort, it still fails to intrigue or entertain. And really, not enough happens to keep us caring for much of what transpires.

The narrative has nearly enough cohesion to work, but to no avail. The CGI, however, is magnificent (probably the only thing in this film that is).

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2 (2014)

Plot Synopsis: When Hiccup (Jay Baruchel, voice)
and Toothless discover an ice cave that
is home to hundreds of new wild dragons
 and the mysterious Dragon Rider, the
two find themselves at the center of a
battle to protect the peace.
________________________________________
DreamWorks Animation
Runtime: 1 hour, 42 minutes
Rated: PG (for adventure action and some mild rude
humor)
Director: Dean DeBlois
Writers: Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell
Starring: Jay Baruchel, Cate Blanchett, Gerard Butler
Animation | Action | Adventure
The sequel to How To Train Your Dragon is itself a fantastic production from DreamWorks Animation, giving us both a backstory and augmentation to the lovely events that preceded it. It's a surefire crowd-pleaser.

This one features new dragons, some twisty new protagonists, and a new fiercesome competing tribe led by a ruthless conquerer (Djimon Hounsou, voice) who seeks to subvert dragon powers for his own dictatorial purposes, and the emergence of Hiccup's mother (Cate Blanchette, voice).
  
It's nearly everything a sequel should be, minus some not so soothing pacing, and what seems to be more of a teenaged appeal.

This one doesn't quite offer up the succinct focus as what we received the first time around, but the adorable characters remain as enchanting as ever.

Movie Review: Snowpiercer (2014)

Plot synopsis: Set in a future where
a failed global-warming experiment
kills off all life on the planet except
 for a lucky few that boarded the
Snowpiercer, a train travels around the
globe, where a class system evolves
and a struggle for survival ensues.
______________________________________
 Moho Film
Runtime: 2 hours, 6 minutes
Rated: R (for violence, language, and drug content)
Director: Joon-ho Bong
Writers: Joon-ho Bong, Kelly Masterson
Starring: Chris Evans, Ed Harris, Jamie Bell,
Tilda Swinton, Octavia Spencer
Action | Thriller | Sci-Fi
It has one of the most asinine plots ever conceived and the title itself sounds hokey and budgety, like something you’d catch on the Sci-fi Channel at 3 am, but aside from these worries, Snowpiercer is one of those rare films where its audacity and message alone outpace all other considerations.

Korean Director/writer Joon-ho Bong, taking some ideas from a forgotten 1980s French novel, has created one of the most insane films I've ever seen. Some agonizing efforts have been gone through to blend the dark, crass comedy with the story’s dystopian drama, but it is a raging success—and a harsh lancing of class warfare as it is necessary in our world.

I had the lowest of expectations for this film, but with Ed Harris and Chris Evans holding nothing back, it worked…and then a little. Not to be forgotten is Tilda Swinton's “Mason” in a performance so good that it is scary.

Be ready to contrast the great performances with the ingloriously tasteless portrayals of poverty and abject squalor. Snowpiercer is, without a doubt, one of the most disturbing movies ever made, with cannibalism and portrayals of such filthy living conditions that it can be hard to endure for even the most avid horror fans.

Movie Review: Captain America: Winter Soldier (2014)

Plot Synopsis: Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role
in the modern world and battles a new threat from
old history: the Soviet agent known as the
Winter Soldier.
 _________________________________________________
Marvel Entertainment
Runtime: 2 hours, 16 minutes
Rated: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence, gunplay,
and action throughout)
Directors: Anthony Russo, Joe Russo
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Chris Evans, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson,
Robert Redford
Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
It’s the third addition in the Captain American line-up, and it’s doing what we want it to do: Please the comic book fans and those who couldn’t care less about comics, making it a fast and fun hit for just about all audiences.

As Rogers continues to fill in the gaps from waking up in a fast-paced world, he is faced with a new threat in the form of an old enemy. This new enemy has a familiar face, one that will only add to the difficulties he faces in adapting to a new world where the enemies are more subtle and deadlier than ever before, and where even S.H.I.E.L.D. is left compromised.

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