Steve Zahn

REVIEW: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

After the human military comes to kill Caesar (Andy Serkis), he must wrestle with the fact that the ever-looming war between apes and humans is finally here.

If you are expecting an out-and-out war film here, you’ll be disappointed. Yes, there are soldiers and there’s conflict between the apes and humans but the film is more than that. It’s an intelligent, thoughtful look at humanity and at a group of creatures who just want to be left alone. The conversations between Caesar and The Colonel (Woody Harrelson) are really interesting because they are two smart, capable leaders who have their own kind to protect.

It kind of goes without saying but the motion capture and computer work in War for the Planet of the Apes is phenomenal. The actors performing as the apes do incredible work as do the digital artists – you really feel and understand the emotions that play out on these creatures faces. It’s easy to forget that they aren’t really “there”.

War for the Planet of the Apes is an incredible film. It builds on the previous two films and adds more depth to the characters we already know and interesting dynamics with new ones. Caesar feels so much older and battle-worn compared to when we last saw him but then there’s a new character like Bad Ape (Steve Zahn) who’s weird quirks brings some much needed humour to the film. Because War for the Planet of the Apes is often a bleak and tough film. The characters, and the audience, go through so much that those moments of humour are needed to break the tension.

The relationship between Caesar, fellow chimp Rocket (Terry Notary) and orangutan Maurice (Karin Konoval) is delved into even more in this film. It’s fascinating to see not just Caesar’s growth across the trilogy but theirs, along with the community they’ve built in the woods.

War for the Planet of the Apes is a solid, poignant story of hope, conflict and loss. There’s a sense of tension and foreboding throughout the film and it puts your emotions through the wringer. It is an amazing end to a trilogy that just got better and better with each instalment. This trilogy is up there with the best of them. 5/5.

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REVIEW: Speak (2004)

speak movie posterAfter a trauma over the summer that she’s trying to forget, Melinda Sordino (Kristen Stewart) becomes a selective mute. As she struggles with high school, broken friendships and her family, slowly she revisits what happens to her and tries to speak out.

Melinda is a teenager who has gone through a traumatic experience and really doesn’t know how to communicate what is going on in her head. While everyone else leaves her to get lost in her own head, her art teacher Mr Freeman (Steve Zahn) encourages her to express herself through her art. They have a sort of respect for each other and the art room becomes a place of sanctuary for her.

Speak is a great film because all the relationships are believable. Melinda’s parents Joyce (Elizabeth Perkins) and Jack (D.E. Sweeney) both don’t know what’s made Melinda so quiet but they don’t know how to push her to open up and at the same time they are both busy with their own lives that they don’t pay as much attention to her as they probably should. It’s not malicious, it’s just life. The way that teenage friendships can just fall apart is also handled-well. Suddenly people can go from one friendship group to a clique within a blink of an eye, that’s what happened to Melinda and she’s now on the outside looking in.

Speak is a phenomenal film. It’s the kind of film that showcases acting, direction and scriptwriting and shows that you don’t need a huge budget, just some talented people to make a film that can pack an emotional punch. Kristen Stewart is amazing as Melinda, there’s a scene where she locks herself in her closet and screams which makes your hair stand on end.

Speak is a powerful and inspiring drama and is the kind of film everyone should watch. 5/5.