Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Blending state-of-the-art special effects with an intelligent script, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes conjures two hours of animal magic that looks set to be crowned king of the blockbuster swingers.
Tim Burton’s awful Planet Of The Apes is now a distant memory thanks to the 2011 revamp Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and this superior sequel, which pushes the art of motion-capture performance to new limits.
Andy Serkis’ exemplary work as Caesar, the super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads the ape uprising, is the film’s emotional heartbeat.
His ability to convey the character’s rage, despair and passion through movement and subtle gesture is breathtaking.
Toby Kebbell is also compelling as Caesar’s war-mongering rival, who believes the key to his species’ survival is the extermination of humans.
Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver’s script elegantly draws parallels between the feuding primates, juxtaposing tender scenes of parenting with bruising skirmishes that create divisions on both sides.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is a slick thrill ride with brains as well as brawn.
The grim mood, which permeates the first half, leads to all-guns-blazing war and director Reeves orchestrates these brutal sequences with aplomb.
Digital effects are jaw-dropping, giving birth to a realistic army of blood-thirsty apes who cram every chaotic, blood-spattered frame.
The film’s strong anti-gun message comes through loud and clear, but the appetite for destruction overpowers diplomacy.
“I always think ape better than humans,” laments Caesar as his dream of lasting peace founders. “I see now how like them we are.”
RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 91%
Pudsey The Dog – The Movie
The sound of a pig repeatedly evacuating its bowels reverberates throughout Nick Moore’s ham-fisted attempt to transform Britain’s Got Talent’s performing pooch into a modern-day Lassie.
The porker’s muck is an apt critique for Paul Rose’s shambolic script that trades in toilet humour and misjudged innuendo.
Some of the performances also beggar belief including John Sessions as the pantomime villain in tweeds.
He suffers the humiliation of a toe-curling flashback in which he plays a mother, father and infant in the same scene.
Hopefully, Sessions was paid well for this half-hearted attempt at career suicide.
Elsewhere, David Walliams delivers a lifeless vocal performance as the four-legged hero, who hopes to travel the world and visit the Empire Sausage Building and Sausage Henge.
Pudsey The Dog: The Movie is a poor showcase of the eponymous cross breed.
Viewers of Simon Cowell’s talent search will be well versed in Pudsey’s ability to perform acrobatic feats with guidance from trainer Ashleigh Butler.
On the big screen, he dances and twirls on hind legs, casts the occasional mournful glance at the camera and appears to converse with farmyard co-stars courtesy of digital trickery a la Babe.
The ramshackle plot is interrupted by pointless diversions including the central character’s incarceration in a secret dog prison that inspires a ludicrous Great Escape.
Amidst the pratfalls and a lame running gag about a giant pie, there are faint glimmers of heart-warming emotion including a timely mention of the Women’s Land Army.
However, good intentions are undermined by slapdash character development.
“Things are getting better,” promises the chorus of one of the bubblegum pop songs that punctuate the soundtrack.
Only when the end credits roll and we leave.
RottenTomatoes.com Rating: N/A
In selected cinemas
I am Devine
Jeffrey Schwarz’s documentary about director John Waters’ iconic muse traces the formative years of misfit Harris Glenn Milstead in Baltimore to his metamorphosis into outrageous alter-ego Divine.
The film includes rare home movies and photos plus television appearances and film performances along with new interviews with friends and family including Waters, Ricki Lake, Mink Stole, Tab Hunter, Holly Woodlawn, Michael Musto, Bruce Vilanch and his mother Frances Milstead.
RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 95%
Andre Rieu’s 2014 Maastricht Concert
Recorded live in the Vrijthof in Maastricht, one of the most romantic city squares in The Netherlands, this open-air concert marks the 10th anniversary of the annual summer evening spectacles hosted by Dutch violinist and conductor Andre Rieu.
Nicknamed the King of Waltz, Rieu shares the stage with the 60-piece Johann Strauss Orchestra and he performs a varied and lively programme in the company of famous guest artists and soloists.
The music is complemented by light shows and spectacular fireworks to ensure the evening goes with a bang.
RottenTomatoes.com Rating: N/A