CANOPY | THE REVIEW

Kernel Jack is our war film expert, he loves them, anything war, be it book, TV or film and he is in. He doesn’t love it for the action, he loves it for the history and the human condition. So it really surprises me that he did not like this film at all. The film, CANOPY, has awards and festivals coming out of its proverbial with “Official Selection” status at Toronto, Rotterdam, Busan and Stockholm International Film Festivals. It also won the “Special Jury Mention” Award at Abu Dhabi International Film Festival and Andrew Urban (Urban Cinefile) and Blake Howard (Graffiti with Punctuation) both thoroughly enjoyed it. Oh the power of taste – this will appeal to some and not appeal to others, like most films 🙂 Personally I trust Jack in war films so will probably wait until DVD relelase for this one. CANOPY releases this Thursday 24th April at selected cinemas I list at the end of the article – if you see it please share your thoughts and open a conversation. It is rated M and runs for 84mins – you can also check out their really well made website HERE.

 

CANOPY MOVIE POSTER
CANOPY IMAGE | AUSTRALIAN WAR MOVIE | AUSTRALIAN RELEASE POSTER

 

REVIEW BY JACK KEMP

Synopsis: Wartime, 1942. Singapore. An Australian fighter pilot shot down in combat awakens suspended in the treetops. As night devours day, he must navigate through dangerous jungle in search of sanctuary. Transcending language and culture, CANOPY is a cinematic tour de force exploring the collision of war, nature and its impact on humanity. Aaron Wilson’s thrilling, breathtaking film marks the debut of an exciting new voice in Australian cinema. – IMDB

The film starts off really really slow, like really slow. The first 3 – 5 minutes were just sound effects of war over the top of what felt like endless shots of the rain forrest that I can only assume that the producer is going to sell as stock footage at a later date. Over the speakers we hear the wind of a military plane wiz over head with a sudden explosion. A few seconds later we see our main hero (Khan Chittenden) – if you can call him that – fall into screen and become tangled in a tree. After a while he wakes up, hears some Japanese voices, cuts himself loose and takes off into the jungle. Its here where we finally get to see another few minutes of jungle footage and our main character walking around lost. Donʼt worry though, this goes on for awhile so you can fully understand how lost he is. It was about here where I actually started nodding off – about the 20min mark.

 

CANOPY IMAGE JIm (Khan Chittenden)
CANOPY IMAGE | AUSTRALIAN WAR MOVIE | JIM (Khan Chittenden)

 

As night falls, Jim (Khan) hears more Japanese voices and takes off running… in the jungle… at night… wonder what happens?

Instead of hiding in the vast jungle coverage and waiting for the Japanese to go past (more thrilling and exciting) Jim is now running, in the pitch black, constantly looking over his shoulder and not where he is going. It’s here where Jim runs into a small clearing (not many trees, just shrubby fern like bushes) and smack bang into our new character, Seng (Mo Tzu-Yi), a Chinese resistance fighter. The two have a quick moment of stand-off before Seng lets Jim know he is Chinese and not Japanese. Its at this point that we see some Japanese soldiers looking through the jungle. Our two main characters jump for cover and allow the (obviously blind) Japanese to walk right passed them. At this moment our two characters decide to stick together and survive.

Iʼm not sure why or how this happened – as I was so detached from this film – but somehow our Chinese friend ends up sustaining a bullet wound. Jim springs into action and helps his new friend by patching up his wound. Then more shots of the jungle and voices and other nonsense for some lengthy amount of time. There is also a real sequence of time thing going on, throughout the film we jump forward and backwards in time, but not in a flashback kind of way that helps build the story. Instead, we jump back a few moments earlier but from a different angle where we see more of the scene that just passed… its confusing, annoying and unnecessary.

 

CANOPY IMAGE - Jim and Seng
CANOPY IMAGE | AUSTRALIAN WAR MOVIE | JIM (Khan Chittenden) and SENG (Mo Tzu-Yi)

 

Throughout this whole film the only three words spoken in english are “Drink, Drink, Drink”. Seng says a lot in Chinese but we have no subtitles so I just assumed it was the director’s way of trying to make us relate with Jim, who couldnʼt speak Chinese. The film trails on for a total of 84mins and the ending is probably the most anti-climactic thing I have ever seen. I won’t to spoil it but it made me angry.

This film was probably one of the most anti-climactic and pretentious war films I have ever seen. I would gladly watch The Room on repeat before I watch this film again. There was no character development at all, no script, no meaning or storyline. I guess with a log line that only says – “Donʼt Get Caught” – one canʼt expect much. However, some suspense or drama would have been preferable.

One positive thing I do have to say about this is in amongst the jungle shots and poor plot we get a few shots of CGI military planes flying overhead with some awesome looking explosions. I actually mean that by the way, the CGI was awesome. Very realistic. Shame they couldnʼt put that sort of budget into the script and character development.

 

CANOPY IMAGE | AUSTRALIAN WAR MOVIE | Panoramic War Shot
CANOPY IMAGE | AUSTRALIAN WAR MOVIE | Panoramic War Shot

 

The Cast did a great job trying to make something from nothing, Their performances werenʼt bad, they just had nothing to work with. Khan is a very promising actor but he needs to choose his roles better.

As for the director, Aaron Wilson. I have no idea what he was hoping to achieve from this but I will definitely think twice before watching another film of his.

The cinematography wasnʼt bad but there were many times where the camera couldnʼt keep our actors in frame when on a crane or jib. The whole piece felt flat and cheap.

For me the movie waste of time and a really underwhelming experience but I really hope you get more out of it than I did. Itʼs not a military film, itʼs not a thriller, itʼs not even a drama. Itʼs just two guys walking around a rainforest for 84mins.

CANOPY WILL BE SCREENING AT THESE LOCATIONS:

Melbourne

Cinema Nova @ Lygon Court

Palace Dendy Brighton

Palace Como

Sun Theatre Yarraville

Sydney

Dendy Newtown

Dendy Opera Quays

Palace Norton St

Chauvel Cinema

Canberra

Palace Electric

Brisbane

Palace Centro

Adelaide

Palace Nova Eastend

 

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