The Homesman, written and directed by Hollywood A Lister Tommy Lee Jones, is another offbeat western by the man who brought the world The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, although that was a modern day western and his most recent offering is actually a period piece. Set back in the days of sod houses and farmers trying to survive the harsh Nebraska winter on the plains, the film is a western mainly due to its locale and time. Jones directs the feature and co-wrote the screenplay with Kieran Fitzgerald and Wesley A. Oliver based on the book written by The Shootist author Glendon Swarthout.
Love Is Strange has John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as two gay men in a senior citizen romance that goes sour once it has been made official. To be fair, only Lithgow’s character is really a senior citizen – in real life at age 69 – Molina is just under at 61. The two award winning actors play Ben and George. The men have been partners for 39 years and after all that time the two decide to tie the knot and get married. The idea, although not mentioned in the film, must have come from the recent legalization of same sex marriage in New York.
Directed by Rupert Wyatt, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is nothing short of magnificent. My daughter and I saw this at the cinema and let me tell you, getting to watch Andy Serkis as Caesar, was worth the price of admission.
Since I’m going to be writing about this film, I’ll explain now that I’ll be referring to it as just Apes from now on. And that honestly is my only complaint about the film. The length of it’s title. Apart from that, the film was nigh-on perfect. So perfect that I did not hesitate to buy the Triple Play Blu-Ray DVD the second it hit the stores.
Of course Andy Serkis was not the only performer who gave a sterling performance in Apes. The cast itself was of a high calibre and also well worth the price of admission. James Franco (Spider-man 1,2,and 3), Freida Pinto (in her third film), John Lithgow (Lord Farquaad in Shrek, Harry and the Hendersons), Brian Cox (in just about every movie made in the last twenty years) and not to forget Tom Felton aka Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter films. It seems that acting snotty is Felton’s speciality.
I am sure that there are some other films that have been remade as much as the Planet of the Apes, but off-hand I can’t think of them. Of course having just written that, I remembered that The Hulk at the very least ties with Planet of the Apes in terms of re-makes.
The first Planet of the Apes was made in 1968 and it was a”Landmark” film. Starring Charlton Heston, It featured full frontal male nudity, it featured state-of-the-art prosthetic masks and make-up for the ‘apes’, and it had no less than five sequels.In 20o1 it was re-made by Tim Burton with a stellar cast. And now we have a “re-boot” version that pretty much trumps the other two versions of the film.
The plot does vary from the original, so here it is in a very condensed form.Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist. He has been working on a cure for alzheimer’s, which his father Charles (John Lithgow) suffers from. Will has been experimenting on apes and has come up with a formula that increases their intelligence and overall ability.When the company that Will works for put on a presentation of his progress, Will’s prize ape (the female ape that has responded the best to the formula) goes berserk.
Not only does she scare the hell out of the attendees but she has to be killed by a guard before she can harm anyone. Will’s boss, Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) orders the rest of the apes destroyed. While cleaning out the female ape’s ‘cage’ they find that she went mad because she thought her baby was in danger.
Rather than destroying the baby ape, Will takes him home to raise him and provide some sort of companionship for his father. Will discovers the the baby ape, who his father Charles names Caesar, has the improved intelligence of his mother.
Charles’s condition is getting worse and in desperation Will starts giving his dad the formula that was used on Caesar’s mother. He improves dramatically, but the change is only temporary. When Charles is accosted by a neighbour, Caesar protects Charles and savagely attacks the neighbour.
Caesar is then put into an animal shelter run by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his son Dodge (Tom Felton). Meanwhile, Will has perfected the formula that he first used and has gotten permission to continue experiments with a new group of apes.
That is where I have to stop because I don’t want to be accused of spoiling anything. I will say that you will be on the ape’s side for most if not all of the film. There are places in the film where you just want to cheer, rage against the character (human characters), bang your fist in frustration, and sit on the edge of your seat in suspence. You will laugh and if you don’t cry a little, you will at least get a lump in your throat.
The use of Motion Capture in the film has been improved and the CGI is faultless. I did not at any time think that the apes were not real. The smoothness and the reality of the fx were perfect and really helped you get carried away with the film.
I will leave you with one bit of advice: Do not miss this film.
- Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (scifitalk.com)
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes Sequel Gets a Title (dreadcentral.com)
- ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ announced for May 2014 release (digitalspy.co.uk)
- Hail Caesar! Scott Z Burns Writing PLANET OF THE APES Sequel (badassdigest.com)
- Freida Pinto’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes LA Premiere Look From All Angles (fabsugar.com)