Friday, 1 August 2014

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - REVIEW *****

Persuaded to go and see this film by a male, with reluctance I went - with an open mind, thinking that there would be some special effects I could pay appreciative comments to, and that would be about it.

However, I was taken pleasantly by surprise, into a world of deep emotional battles over the nature of man versus the integrity of the animal kingdom. Given, that this is an epic American classic Sci-fi film, the last thing I expected to see were powerful emotive scenes from fictional talking apes that would have me in tears one minute, laughing hysterically the next, and on the edge of my seat for the duration of the screening.

The plot is focused on a battle of territory and a fight for survival between the humans living in San Francisco, and the apes living in the upper region of the Muir Woods just outside the city.  The humans need to fix a hydroelectric damn situated around the location of the Ape’s home, so that they can provide a power source once again to their town. The apes obviously struggle with this, as they want to  protect their families and remain in their long-standing home that they have fought so hard to keep in the past.

Cascaded with a series of life-threatening misunderstandings of one another, and of the communication between parties, the film takes unexpected twists and turns that will have you gasping for breath and wondering what will happen next. I found myself contemplating over and over in my mind, how such ignorance and disaster can result from a fear of the other, of the unknown.

One of the most touching aspects of the film, is the portrayal of the apes, by human actors, using performance capture. In the words of Andy Serkis the film portrays “Apes that are infused with the heart and soul of an actor’s performance”. Serkis brings a spirit and a simplicity to his heroic character Caesar, that doesn’t let technology take away from the acting side of things but instead makes the apes all the more real and fascinating to watch.  

It was interesting to look up some of the actors that played the parts of the apes such as the great leader Caesar (Andy Serkis) and the angry rebellious Koba, (Toby Kebbell) who ends up turning against his own.  The anger of Koba, particularly struck me in the film, and I felt that the realness of that anger was so strong. The film directors worked hard to find actors that had great depth. Toby Kebbell (Koba) has been praised for many of his emotive performances in his acting roles, including his portrayal of a boy with learning difficulties in the film ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ directed by Shane Meadows 2004.

Sometimes in Sci-fi films I think they tend to neglect the need for good acting, but in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes this certainly was not the case. Neither did the directors neglect the special effects side of things as they worked with the creators of Avatar and Lord of the Rings to achieve the ultimate standard that went above and beyond all previous special effects films. They took the highest and most intense action scenes to the real locations on filming, and did real live motion captures. This film truly has something for everyone and I would genuinely give it five stars, as a must watch this summer.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Half Marathon Mission

As of late I have embarked on a mission to train for a Half Marathon – The Great North Run. This is 13.1 miles across Newcastle and the region of Tyne & Wear, also appealing as my Grandma lives five minutes from the finish line! Running long distance marathons is something I have always wanted to get involved in, and I am finally taking that step to pursue my goals.

I find running to be extremely therapeutic and rewarding, not to mention it is also cost free! So if you are on a budget, or looking to save some money in order to buy that designer handbag/car/holiday/house deposit, then taking exercise for free is something that you really should consider!

It is not for the faint hearted though. It is proving to be a massive mind over matter challenge. I have to train a lot at night to fit around my work schedule, when sometimes I’d much rather curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and good food I have to get out there and train! I believe that the body gives up a long time before the mind does when you push yourself beyond what you would normally do for exercise. I was told once, by a friend of mine who is a South African rugby player, that when your body wants to pack in, you can actually do what you have already done, ten times over. So I am definitely learning more about persevering through the comfort zone at the moment – quite possibly an amazing lesson I will carry with me for the rest of life.

I am going to post more articles as my training progresses, sharing experiences, and also diet and nutrition tips that help me along the way. However I am mainly fascinated by the minds ability to push the body beyond what is comfortable, the ability to persevere through pain, and to achieve great things. I believe that the mind is a powerful tool and I will be looking at how the marathon training can help build skills that can transfer into all areas of life and pursuing goals.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Is social networking leaving us too exposed as individuals?

I am writing as a young person that fully embraces the social media world of the 21st century. Self-confessed instagram addict, selfie show-off, tweeter and Facebook fanatic, I do enjoy all of the social networking facilities that are out there, but I do often ask myself - are we now too open as people? Are we jeopardising or in some cases enhancing our careers? And is there now any room left for traditional, old-fashioned, get-to-know-one-another conversation/spending time?

It is definitely the done thing right now to share all of our latest personal photographs, status updates, opinions and life details over social networking sites which not only connect us to our loved ones, but also to people who we wouldn't normally share such information with. I have to admit I always think twice about what to say in a status in case it may offend one of my "1000" friends. Chances are, something will always offend someone so I used to not saying anything at all, on the majority of occasions. However I have changed my attitude over caring what others think so much and I have decided to speak out more often and just be true to myself. This initially feels very liberating, however the openness of the internet and who might read such information is proving to make things more nerve-racking and daunting. "And why are you further broadcasting it in a BLOG?!" I hear you speculate. Well, truth be told I wanted to further explore what people think about the use of such social networking sites as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and to consider to what EXTENT are these sites having an effect on the behaviour in our society.

It was only the other day that a gentleman came up to me and told me that he had googled me. I was at first, alarmed, then flattered (very shortly after - being an actress at times) and then... I became paranoid! I ran through questions in my head, searched for re-assurance from friends - do I have... is there? No! I know I do not have any dodgy material on the internet - but what is there out there, about me? It just alarmed me, how open the internet actually is, and how we all so willingly subject ourselves to it's domain. Social networking is a tool that can contain the power to affect our career, our social circle, our relationships, our life! People often warned me at University, that potential employers will often check your Facebook photos to see what kind of life you lead, before thinking about employing you. This is all too scarily true! Gone are the days when work and social life were kept completely separate. Now they are ever merging, and we are no longer able to hold up such a facade of infallible perfection at interview. True quite a lot of people have made careers using social networking sites, being able to market and promote businesses over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and essentially do a lot of 'networking'. At the end of the day it depends what profession you are going in to, as to how open you feel comfortable with being on these sites.

On a different note, do social networking sites spoil part of the mystery of romance? If you connect with someone as friends, then you automatically have access to that persons endless photos, opinions, statuses etc. - not that you would STALK them, of course! Even down to things like texting - (which is a whole other ball game I will write a separate article about!) we digitally have the ability to always be in contact with someone if we choose to be. Where is the mystery in that? Where is the wondering when you two may bump into each other again - or better yet, if you have arranged to see someone again, just generally not talking via text until the next time you meet so that you actually have some real chat to catch up on. And you perhaps would look forward to seeing that person a lot more because you haven't spoken in say, a week! Part of the early stages of romance are made that much sweeter by the mystery, in my humble opinion. And social networking just leaves a person so entirely exposed - or does it?

This leads me on to my last point: the self, the persona that we present to others via social networking. Is it even actually the real us? I mean, are we presenting our true selves, or an idealised version that we want the world/society we live in, to approve of/agree with? Of course, everybody wants to be liked, but are we putting out too much of an idealised picture of our lives? Perhaps - to protect ourselves, self-preservation, self-pride, self-privacy! Which in my opinion, are all good motives. We live in an endless dilemma in my opinion, I believe all of us have paused at a status/ bad-ish photo/ quote, and thought, should I share this? What will people think/say? Will it be frowned upon or rejected? How open IS the internet? Will I be over-exposing myself? Just this afternoon I met with a guy who had gotten into enormous trouble over a very political hot potato that he had decided to tweet about. Sat at home, in the privacy of his own room, behind closed doors, he felt so safe, to share a controversial opinion via Twitter. I mean, it's only Twitter, surely? Just like my diary, online, no? NO. Little did he expect the BBC to be showing up at his workplace, with cameras demanding an apology. Little did he expect. Little did we all expect. See, I still believe that most of us are all still a bit internet naive. We have no idea who the majority of people are that read our tweets/statuses/blogs, which makes that all equally exciting as it is terrifying. My conclusion would still be, just to be yourself, and be as findable on the internet as you would be comfortable with. But keep some of the mystery.