It was a very quiet August, for a few reasons, so there are only two films in this months film fight.
Firstly, Arrietty surprised me in several ways. It’s a the story of The Borrowers, previously adapted for TV and film, as seen by the legendary animation studio, Studio Ghibli. From start to finish, it has their trademark look, with neatly designed characters against rich backdrops. Visually, it’s a lovely film. It tells the story modestly, and with few surprises, but without any great insight. That’s the real surprise: despite their history, Ghibli fail to bring any real sense of wonder to this already well trodden story. It’s a perfectly serviceable adaptation, but not outstanding in any real sense. (See my Arrietty Twitter review).
Finally, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes also surprises, by doing a remarkably good job of handling such a fanciful subject. Despite it being about apes who become very intelligent, with the exception of the last act, it manages to build a reasonable path through the key relationships in the story to keep things somewhat believable, rather than ridiculous. It’s very tightly paced, which serves to keep things moving but doesn’t let some key developments linger as long as they possibly should. The final act devolves into a much more far-fetched, but reasonably action-packed film. In the end, we have an enjoyable action film, that was a little better than expected. (see my Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes Twitter review).
While neither film was a classic, I think that Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was, against the odds, the more enjoyable film, and is this months winner.