Sean K. Cureton

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Planet of the Apes Series Returns

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on August 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes
2 1/2 out of 4 stars
Directed by Rupert Wyatt

After Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes remake, no one was in any hurry to see another film to continue or renew the series. Fortunately, this summer’s release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the perfect remedy for Burton’s horrid remake, and provides for what could prove to be a completely new and interesting remake of the entire original series.

Set in a time period much like our own, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is about how a young scientist named Will Rodman, played by Academy-award Nominee James Franco, is seeking to find the cure for Alzheimer’s by experimenting with chimpanzees. Unfortunately, his early experiments are shot down after one of the apes attacks his staff out of fear for her child. Will is then given the baby ape, the only ape not put down by his company, and raises it on his own in order to continue his research uninhibited by his boss, Steven Jacobs, played by David Oyelowo.

Eventually, the ape Will takes care of, who he names Caesar, becomes too difficult for him to manage, and he is forced to give him up into the care of an animal reserve run by a character named John Landon and his son Dodge, who are played by Brian Cox and Tom Felton respectively. After being mistreated at the hands of Dodge for several weeks, Caesar inevitably starts an uprising among the apes by the end of the film, and the film ends with a rather ambiguous ending that is obviously meant to indicate to the audience that more films are on the way to continue the story started in this film.

What makes this film so interesting and fun largely has to do with what the effects team at WETA Workshop, the same effects team that brought the Lord of the Rings trilogy to life, was able to achieve in their crafting of the cast of apes in the movie. Starting with Caesar, who was animated entirely from the performance of Andy Serkis, WETA was able to create the first Apes film that featured apes that actually looked like apes. They were then able to manipulate these apes to do anything using performers such as Serkis. At the end of the movie, one simply doesn’t remember many of the human characters, and instead is moved almost entirely by the apes.

In conclusion, Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a success largely due to the compelling performances given by the actors whose movements and facial expressions were used to create the best looking apes this series has ever seen. Andy Serkis, a veteran of the motion capture technology used in the film, should certainly be applauded for his great work in the role of Caesar, the ape who initiates the rise of the apes. While it may not be the best movie of the year, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is certainly a whole lot of fun, and boasts the best special effects that this reviewer has seen in years.

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Great Summer Film With No Superheros, Cowboys, Aliens, Smurfs, or Apes

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on August 8, 2011 at 12:05 pm

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Crazy, Stupid, Love.
3 out of 4 stars
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

For the most part, Hollywood is fairly consistent when it comes to churning out average to mediocre romantic comedies on a bi-monthly to monthly basis. With films like Valentine’s Day or any Katherine Heigl film that has come out after Knocked Up, it is very rare for a romantic comedy to come along that breaks away from the average and delivers a story that is fresh and original. Crazy, Stupid, Love. is just that kind of romantic comedy.

The movie starts with Cal and his wife Emily, played brilliantly by Steve Carell and Julianne Moore, at dinner together. Before Cal can even say what he wants for dessert, Emily tells him that she wants a divorce. The rest of the film takes place over the next year of this couple’s life, and how they find their way back into one another’s hearts. Along the way, several other characters find their way into the story, and the ways in which each of these characters ultimately find themselves involved within Cal and Emily’s relationship is an unexpected thrill.

What makes this romantic comedy so special is the way in which each of the actors within the film have been perfectly cast and give performances that make everyone of the characters within the film interesting and more importantly original. In particular, Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling shine in their roles as Cal and Jacob, a womanizing bachelor who attempts to gain all his happiness through money alone. Gosling is hysterical and disarmingly pleasant to watch even when he engages in behavior that would otherwise be despicable if it were not for his excellent performance. And Carell is able to match Gosling’s sleaze perfectly as the recently divorced husband who is trying so desperately to forget the fact that he still loves his ex-wife by feigning interest in various women that Jacob introduces him to.

Outside of the Cal and Jacob story, Julianne Moore is also brilliant in her character, who immediately feels a sense of regret at leaving her husband, while trying to find a way to love David Lindhagen, played by Kevin Bacon, a colleague that she slept with while still living with Cal. It would be very easy to go on and describe in detail all of the other notable performances in the film, but then every actor would need to be mentioned as every performance in this film was so great. Instead, names will be mentioned as follows: Emma Stone, Jonah Bobo, and Analeigh Tipton.

In conclusion, Crazy, Stupid, Love. is the best romantic comedy this reviewer can remember seeing within the past four years at least. It boasts a great script, a stellar cast, and characters that are too real to be easily forgotten. Steve Carell delivers his best performance since 2007’s Dan in Real Life, and everyone around him is able to match his performance in spades. Crazy, Stupid, Love. might not have spandex clad demigods, cowboys, aliens, a smurf, or any super intelligent apes, but it does have a heart that beats with the rhythm of the human soul, and that is something that is hard to find in Hollywood today.

The Best Marvel Studios Film of the Summer

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on August 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm

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Captain America: The First Avenger
2 1/2 out of 4 stars
Directed by Joe Johnston

In preparation for next summer’s long awaited adaptation of Marvel’s Avengers comic series, Captain America: The First Avenger has been released in order to introduce Captain into the already created Marvel film universe, and luckily, it’s one hell of an introduction.

Set in 1940’s New York, Joe Johnston’s adaptation of the Captain America comic book hero sets out to tell the tale of how Captain came to be the hero he is, and how he ends up fighting in 2011 as part of the Avengers team. Starting out as a scrawny runt who has failed to pass the medical examination required to enlist in the U.S. Army, Steve Rogers happens to meet a German scientist named Abraham Erskine, played by Stanley Tucci, who turns him into a super soldier that can be used to fight Nazi’s. Inevitably, plans go awry, Erskine is killed, and Steve finds himself pitted against Hugo Weaving’s super villain character called Johann Schmidt, or more notably Red Skull.

What makes Johnston’s superhero movie stand out amidst all the other superhero films released this summer is the fact that his film boasts the best supporting cast of all the other Marvel films of this summer combined. First, there is Stanley Tucci, whose brilliant portrayal of the doctor that brings Captain America into exsistence is very touching. Ultimately, Tucci is probably the best part of the film, and it is just too bad that his character is killed off so early. Next, Tommy Lee Jones is hysterical as the surly Colonel Chester Phillips. Jones’ very presence just seems to lend the film authenticity and substance. And lastly, Hugo Weaving is fantastic as Red Skull, by being able to breathe life into the heavily CGI animated face that he sports for the last quarter of the film.

The other main thing that really sets this film apart from the other Marvel films of this summer is the patriotism and romanticism that is present in this film’s 1940’s setting. Had this film been set entirely within a more contemporary setting, much of its spirit and levity would be lost.

In conclusion, Joe Johnston’s Captain America: The First Avenger is quite frankly the must-see summer superhero movie of the year. With its varied and talented supporting cast and its 1940’s setting, it truly is the most original film Marvel has to offer this summer.