Saturday, July 19, 2014

In Theatres: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

This ain't your father's Planet of the Apes, or your grandfather's, and perhaps it's better that way.

Pierre Boulle is best known for The Bridge on The River Kwai, but because 20th Century Fox has cultivated Planet of the Apes into a very successful cinematic franchise over the last 46 years, it may not be long before that becomes Boulle's seminal work instead. However, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes", and its predecessor, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes", are loose adaptations of Boulle's opus. Instead of astronauts landing on an alternate-future Earth ruled by apes, this version is set in the not-too-distant future, where the apes have been genetically altered by modern science.

"Dawn" begins with a montage of flashbacks to key moments in "Rise", leading to the apes developing their own little colony, living in peace and harmony, while the remaining humans are trying to rebuild San Francisco, which was devastated in the last film. Hmm. If memory serves, one of the films in the first "Apes" series was set in Los Angeles. I guess it's true that it never rains in Southern California, and they wanted rain for this film. I digress.

Peace between apes & humans is uneasy at best. Dreyfus (Gary Oldman, looking like he moved off the set of "Dark Knight Rises" right into this film) doesn't trust the apes, and, at first, the feeling is mutual. However, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) and his nurse-wife, Ellie (Keri Russell, ex-Felicity) believe they can work with Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his tribe in order to gain access to a power grid in order to restore lighting to the city. It isn't easy on the apes' side, either, as Caesar has to deal with a duplicitous aide, Koba, who threatens not only war with the humans, even going so far as to capture and cage several of them, a call back to the original "Apes" movie, but with Caesar as well, even leaving him for dead after shooting him with a rifle he'd stolen. However, that leads to a climatic battle for ape supremacy, and the door is opened for the next film, due in 2016. Ironically, the last film was set in 2016, and this one starts in 2026, so maybe the next one is set in 2036?

Here's the trailer:

And a few other trailers:

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" is teased with a pirate broadcast cutting into a transmission by President Snow (Donald Sutherland).

"Unbroken" (December) is the latest directorial effort from Angelina Jolie, about an athlete's will to survive and compete against adversity.

"The Judge" (October 10): Robert Downey, Jr. is a lawyer who has his toughest case yet---defending his father (Robert Duvall) on a murder charge. With Billy Bob Thornton.

"The Equalizer" (September): Denzel Washington in a loose adaptation of the 80's TV hit.

"A Most Wanted Man" (date TBA): Philip Seymour Hoffman, in one of his last roles, stars in an adaptation of a John LeCarre thriller.

"The Fluffy Movie" (July 25): Stand-up comic Gabriel Iglesias doesn't see himself as fat, or a Latino Louie Anderson, but, well, "fluffy". That's his gimmick. Problem is, he's up against "Hercules". Thanks for coming, Gabriel.

"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For": Frank Miller & Robert Rodriguez adapt another of Miller's graphic novels, with Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a few close friends.

"The Maze Runner" (TBA): One of these teen coming-of-age-over-adversity stories.

Rating: B+.

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