Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Cowboys & Aliens, also Captain America, The Big Lebowski, Forbidden Planet, The Smurfs, Crazy Stupid Love, and Dead Men Walking

Rise of the Planet of the Apes VF* and quite the tear jerker...

          I went into this movie skeptically, deciding to divorce it from my mind from the 1968 Chuck Heston sci-fi classic, Planet of the Apes (VF). I had decided to myself that the end of the of the original movie indicated that human beings had wiped themselves out, and that apes just happened to be the evolutionary predecessor and enough time had passed and they had taken over the planet. I understand that the rest  Planet of the Apes Movies (not yet emet-rated) get even more convoluted and somehow there is time travel involved, and I feel sorry for the complicated emotions of those unhappy few, perhaps they are less capable of looking at this "prequel" as a stand-alone flick. I came out of the movie wiping tears from my eyes, with my heart bursting with compassion for the misunderstood apes and the man who loved them.
         I honestly thought it was going to be another exhausting film about how humans are evil, and nature is perfect, and why can't those damned scientists leave well enough alone, you know, like Avatar (2009, VF) but with apes instead of Na'vi. It was rather, why can't "Big Pharma" leave well enough alone, which I'm okay with as a plot point, but for me, that wasn't the main focus of the movie. For me it was about the relationship between the scientist, Will Rodman (James Franco), and his adopted test subject/child Caesar (Andy Serkis). Dr. Rodman raised a son whom he can never understand, and Caesar was raised by a father who never could understand him. Though they both love and respect each other, they know, ultimately, they must lead separate lives. Perhaps it was my sheltered religious upbringing, but who doesn't identify with that?
          The casting is great. I enjoyed Franco as the brilliant and compassionate scientist, which surprised me considering I'm still mad at him for the Oscars, the always brilliant John Lithogow was brilliant as always as the father with Alzheimer's who inspires Dr. Rodman to create the gene therapy that causes the apocalypse (not a spoiler, bitch, it's in the title), and Tom Felton (yeah, Draco!) as the abusive ape sanctuary employee, but the star of the movie can actually be found way down the IMDB list, after a nameless anchor person, fourth down from "Man with Newspaper." Yeah, I'm being a smarty pants, but the star is Caesar, played via MoCap by Andy Serkis.
         At San Diego Comic Con, they showed some footage of Andy Serkis doing one of the animal sanctuary scenes in the full on crazy Motion Capture gear, and I could really see how much his physicality created the character. While in the theater, my heart went out to Caesar not just as an abused animal, but as a person who is stuck in an impossible situation, literally peerless. Motion Capture may not be all the way there to creating a completely photo-realistic ape, but the amount an actor can portray through the technology is nothing short of astounding. And it's only going to get better. (Don't disappoint me Tin Tin!)
*There is a character in this film who gets ill, but it seems to be a respiratory thing, with bloody noses and the like. He looks terrible, but the movie is VF. Enjoy!

Cowboys & Aliens VF* and a great western with aliens in it!

          If you're expecting an sci-fi action alien thriller with Cowboys in it, this might not be the movie for you. On the other hand, if you are looking for Western with Aliens in it, you are in for a good time! I'm no expert on Westerns, but I am cinematically educated enough to know a trope when I see it. There's the usual archetypes: the token "man with no name," played deftly by Daniel Craig, the power hungry tycoon, played by the legendary Harrison Ford, the gun toting preacher played by Clancy Brown, the city slickin' doctor played by Sam Rockwell, and even a passing reference to hooker with a heart of gold. And there's the usual plot points: the MWNN enters the small town, there's conflict that earns the sympathy of the seemingly emotionless MWNN, the gathering of the posse, tracking, all culminating in a shoot out.
           The cast is great. In addition to the aforementioned stars, there is Walton Goggins who plays one of the MWNN's former posse, and his scene is gold. (He plays the white supremacist you hate to love on FX's Justified. Fantastic.) There's also Olivia Wilde, who I personally feel is too beautiful to believe in any role. She has the kind of beauty that takes getting used to. Maybe that's just me. At first I felt they could have used better economy in showing the aliens, more like Jaws (VF) where there is very little shark until the climax, but perhaps it was to serve the shoot out at the end. I over all enjoyed the movie as a whole, totally worth seeing. Some unconventional, light summer viewing.
*There is a lot of chaw spitting. It's not V but it's gross.

Some Quickies...

Captain America VF* I technically slept through this movie in the theater, not a comment on the film, I was just exhausted. The people including my very emet-sensitive hubby that it was VF. There was one scene where a Nazi breaks off his tooth and he foams at the mouth a bit, but that's it.

The Big Lebowski (1998) VF* starring Jeff Bridges. I'm watching it as I write this review, as I re-watch this quirky comedy classic. I just watched the ferret in the tub scene. Classic. If you have not seen this movie, netflix it, or better yet, the blu-ray just came out, buy it. You'll get your money's worth. *There's drinking and a fairly intense drug trip scene, but it's VF.

Forbidden Planet (1956) VF starring Leslie Nielsen as Commander J.J. James, leader of a expedition to planet where crew of a previous expedition disappeared. It's a great adventure story, as well as an insight into the late 50's pop-psychology.

Some Twitter Updates to @VFcinema
From my friend, Robert, The Smurfs is not VF.

From @mouthdork:
"@VFCinema #Super is sooooo Not VF. Doesn't come till the end but it's a doozy."

From @mamasocrazy
"@VFCinema Crazy, Stupid, Love is 100% VF and so freaking sweet and funny I wanna schuggle it!"

From @Guttercat69:
"@VFCinema @mouthdork Heads up, "Dead Men Walking" most certainly isn't VF."

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