Facebook Actor Game: James Franco

Like many things on Facebook, this game has waxed and waned in popularity over the years, and, for whatever reason; I never participated until just recently. Essentially, it functions kind of like a chain letter. Someone mentions who asked them and if you like the status you’re assigned an actor by the author of said post.

In my first time playing I was assigned James Franco, which is a pretty interesting choice, and not just because he’s already in the running for Entertainer of the Year this year. So I figured I’d share my thoughts in something slightly larger than an Facebook post here. Also, if you’re so inclined you can like The Movie Rat’s Facebook page here.

Movie I Loved: This is the End

This is the End (2013, Sony Pictures)

It’s too early to tell if this film really is a game-changer, however, what can be said is that it’s a fantastically executed concept and uproariously funny. Crass and immature, yes, but funny too.

Movie I liked: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011, 20th Century Fox)

As the above linked-to review supports, I did like the film. I can’t say that I slammed him for this one but it seemed to be one of his disconnected parts though. Those, unfortunately, do come around from time to time.

Movie I hated that I liked: Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express (2008, Columbia)

I interpreted this one as kind of meaning overrated. There’s no so-bad-it’s-good in his works, those are rare. This movie is OK but no big whoop like some made it out to be.

Movie I hated: Spider-Man

Spider-Man (2002, Columbia)

This selection has very little to do with Franco and a lot to do with the effects I never liked, the casting and the story that didn’t get me to engage at all.

Movie(s) I keep meaning to see but haven’t yet: 127 Hours, Howl

127 Hours (2010, Fox Searchlight)

I really wanted to see 127 Hours in the year it was released. Essentially, it would’ve been just to see him. Unfortunately, that never happened. Same story for Howl except that I was anticipating that a bit more as a film.

Movie(s) I can’t wait to see: Spring Breakers, The Little Prince, The Sound and the Fury

Spring Breakers (2013, A24)

Spring Breakers has a lot of hype for his part so I’d like to see it. The last two titles are if they happen, obviously as they are in development and pre-production respectively. If he get to tackle The Sound and the Fury as a director I’d want to see that. However, even more intriguing to me, albeit another animated version, would be a The Little Prince. It’s a book I’ve read in three languages so any new version is something I look forward to.

Conclusion

I was glad to have participated in this game. At times we seem to always be in the present or thinking about the future, therefore it was good to do a little retrospective.

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Book Review- Asterix and Obelix: The Book of the Film

Asterix and the Vikings (M6 Films)

Whenever possible I always like to address what the grain of salt is that my reader should keep in mind when reading a piece. In this scenario the grain of salt is: I like reading but I don’t as much as I should, and it’s likely impossible for me to read as much as I want to. So my experience is a little lacking but there’s another caveat here and that is this: this is essentially a novelization with a twist.

Now, novelizations are a bit passé and if I recall correctly I’ve only ever read a few. What was interesting and irresistible here is: first, I was at Disney World when I spotted it. Second, it’s Asterix and an animated film, which I said is where the franchise should go (little did I know it had been there before).

Now, it’s a hand-drawn (in terms of style if not technique), 2D film and that’s fine with me. I’d still love to see these characters and others get the motion-capture treatment as Tintin truly was a huge step forward for the technology to me, far greater than Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Regardless, the fact that this film is animated means there are stills and illustrations in the book and it gives you a fair glimpse of what the film is like and that’s the idea: to conquer viewers for the film through another medium and this film succeeds in that task.

The images are plentiful, fairly well-selected and importantly are chasing the text, so the pictures don’t forecast the text but reflect it an allow the book to tell the tale.

As with any Asterix title, there are laughs to be had but most of it does come through the prose, which is impressive since the pictographic nature of the usual tale Uderzo and Goscinny tell is somewhat altered here.

The story also runs about as long as a typical Asterix tale 45 pages or so, but the bonus is that there are character, sketches and other making of illustrations and text that give you insight into the making of this film.

It may not be available on region 1 DVD but where there’s a computer there’s a way and this book has certainly made me want to seek this film out. Mission accomplished.

Asterix & Obelix (Clement)

Review- Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Andy Serkis as Caesar and James Fanco in Rise of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox)

So here we are again it’s time for another prequel, however, unlike most that have come along since it became a popular trend this one is quite good and valid at the same time. However, this is not one where I’d suggest you watch the prequel first. Therefore, if you, like many of those I watched this film with apparently, have not seen the original Planet of the Apes please do so before venturing to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. As good as it is and it is pretty good it will ruin the experience of the first film for you because it is a classic that is spoiled entirely by the conception of this film.

Having said that if one has the knowledge of what occurs in the first series of films it is fascinating to watch this film and see how the blanks get filled in and they’re not done so in a thoughtless haphazard way but rather intelligently and interestingly as well.

What is also good to see is that the scope of the film is not too large. It is a rather focused story that seeks to tell only the very beginning, the rise as it were. Therefore, it’s not too sweeping and that focusing of the narrative allows for a greater identification with the plight of the characters involved and for us to watch in close quarters the world-changing events that will take place.

This is the kind of plot that is intriguing and detailed enough such that it doesn’t really hinge on the performances of its cast. Film is a strange medium in as much as a well-crafted, well told story need not have the most powerful acting to succeed whereas in a play that’s next to impossible. A prime example would be James Franco’s character, he’s not given much in the way of a character and doesn’t add a tremendous amount to it either. Where he brings me into the story is in the moral/ethical dilemmas of the testing in the lab and the moments with his father, played by John Lithgow. His interaction in scenes opposite motion-capture creations are less compelling. Freida Pinto similarly just seems to be there as a plot device and of significance to the protagonist but not truly present in the tale. Tom Felton’s first post-Harry Potter performance is a bit inconsistent and uncomfortable sadly, though it is a perfectly despicable villain hearkening back to the beginning of Malfoy’s arc where he was more vile and less ambivalent.

Then, of course, there’s the performance all are talking about which is that of Andy Serkis as Caesar. Having seen Serkis recently in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll I was most impressed with his performance there. Here I was impressed by the combination of factors: how he in turn aided the CG artists to render a humanoid ape. I appreciate and admire the contribution he makes to this film and consider a success but any Oscar talk pre-Fall is always premature and for the time being any and all motion capture discussions of that nature are far-fetched.

As intimated prior the effects work is rather impressive throughout, however, as is the case in most films that use them so regularly some sequences are far stronger than others and the rendition is by no means perfect.

The climax of the film is truly great stuff and is the kind of sequence you head out to the movies for but don’t find nearly often enough. It’s a pretty huge and well-choreographed battle that the whole movie has been working towards.

While Rise of the Planet of the Apes does have a few failings it is a very solid piece of entertainment. Those who were, or still are, skeptical can rest easy: it’s a well done and worthy installment in the series.

8/10