If you compose a film purely with innuendos, then you will get a film not far off from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Accusing this film of being a little far-fetched and that its morals are dubious and outdated, if not simply misogynistic, is probably beside the point here. It is an entertaining film, laugh out loud in more than a few places and shows us Monroe and Russell as two comedic goddesses. That it also has Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend in all its multi-colour glory is simply the icing on the cake. (BTW, the print we saw here is pristine and bursting with colours. Well done Somerset House.)
An original (i.e.non-sequel/reboot/remake/reimagining) commercial product is so rare these days that this breath of fresh air can equally be accused as of being derivative (imagine a DNA cocktail of Star Wars; Indiana Jones; Troma and an alternative universe heist movie) seems rather churlish. Perhaps it is also more forgivable because it never hides those influences/homages but incorporates them into the quick fired/witted dialogue knowingly, inviting its audience in to join the winking club of clever clogs who supposedly gets it. It further helps that it has a very charming leading man in Pratt and some amazing vocal work from Cooper as a talking raccoon. Add in a vocabulary challenged but physically mobile tree, this is not a film that is meant to be taken too seriously. So once you are indoctrinated and have acclimatized to this universe where you just have to go along with it logic and plot wise, you should be able to enjoy the pure unadulterated fun there is here. Minor quibbles in some of the over-chaotic and over familiar action sequences: perhaps the only area where imagination is wanting here; but extra credit to soundtrack the movie by Guilty Pleasures.
I have one important rule in movie watching: if the film is more than 2hrs, you better make sure it justifies that length of time. I have often been more generous after wasting 90-100 mins sitting through something less than spectacular but felt more disgruntled if I have to do it for 120 mins or more. The 1979 Oscar Best Picture winner is 183 mins long. And it has a lot going for it, despite its flaws (and not just the fabricated dramatic device that is the Russian Roulette which probably never took place back in Vietnam then): literally the whole cast is full of raw, young talent whose performances are nuanced and just amazing to watch ; the cinematography is sumptuous, stark and sad all at the same time and of course there was that theme, something so simple yet so evocative of the whole feel of the film, if not its era, it was used sparingly in the film to great effect and still gives you goosebumps now. Yet I feel disappointed. I don't think the first hour setting up the community, the relationships and the context in which the film is set is unnecessary but I do believe the wedding can have the same impact if it is cut by a third. The next 2 hours could also do with some judicious editing but at least, the plotting is better served by the pacing of the film here. Ultimately I am just annoyed that somewhere there is a better and tighter paced 2hrs or 2h20min film that I would have enjoyed a lot more; one which I believe can be equally poignant, poetic and impactful than the slightly bloated but wholly indulgent director's cut here that not only numbs my ass but also my brain.
The film to beat this year (so far) at the Oscars for Special Effects: technically, it is really well made and a truly amazing film. With the first shot of the film, it faces head on its main challenges: an ape in the rain staring right into the audience, and all the problems associated with computer generated wet fur and eyes. Once that's slammed down, the film can also boast a production that gives the audience great amount of details and Reeves' direction that is unfussy and effective. (He has now made 3 genre films and proved himself to be an efficient, artistic and thoughtful film-maker and one that I look forward to seeing more in the future.) Yet I never fully engaged with the film's Shakespearean narrative. I cannot say there is anything wrong with the story - and considering the restraints (as part of the prequel trilogy in which the ending is already predetermined by previous films), they have crafted a half decent one out of those circumstances. But the script, while trying to make the point about the similarities the human and the ape society face, feels inevitable, and the plotting a bit broad (for my taste) and lacking in dramatic surprises or impact. Perhaps it is because I was never a fan of the franchise - but I was never a big Star Trek fan either but I loved the new reboot. In the end, it is a film that I admired more than I embraced. But if the choice is between this and, say, something like Transformer, I would gladly pay good money to see another instalment of the more intelligent and coherent Ape franchise than the loud and messy inferior alternative.
The film begins with a slightly fractured narrative, jumping around time-wise, to give the rom-com a modern, twisty feel but soon settled into a more conventional mode as the main characters begin their courting/recording sessions. That part of the film is sweetly romantic, but can be a little Glee-esque (though with better and original songs). This more predictable second part of the film brings various strands of the film together - as dictated by the gods of rom-com - but thankfully the ending strays again away from the usual/expected resolutions: which, together with the hummable soundtrack, just about push this into 3 stars territory. Ruffalo is watchable as ever; Knightly can be annoying when she scrunches her nose/face and the cute factor spills into irritating while Corden is surprisingly unintrusive (and in one scene: funny!).