Rise of the Planet of the Apes – A Review by Film Nerd

Director: Rupert Wyatt

Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton

Synopsis: This film is a re-interpretation of the origin story for The Planet of the Apes (1968).Rather than creating a causality loop in Caesar being the child of two time-travelling apes from the future, this version of the story sees Caesar as being the result of a lab experiment, resulting in him having an elevated intelligence.   It does not take too long for this intelligence to perceive injustice against his own kind at the hands of humans.

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Your Highness

Director: David Gordon Green

Cast: Danny McBride, James Franco, Rasmus Hardiker, Natalie Portman, Toby Jones, Justin Theroux, Zooey Deschanel

Synopsis: Fabious (Franco) is the popular Prince of the realm, off fighting the hordes of the evil Leezar (Theroux), and overshadowing his underachiever brother Thadeous (McBride).   When Leezar steals Fabious’ bride-to-be Belladonna (Deschancel), he enlists his brother’s help to go rescue her.   They are helped along the way by female warrior Isabel, who has her own scores to settle.

I should preface this review with the fact that I was seeing the film with low expectations based upon previous reviews, and I was also already extremely tired.   I was far from being in the mood to think about much, and if anything, cheap laughs was exactly what I could have wanted.   I got said laughs, and as such, this film was perfect for me at the time.   If I had been in a more discerning mood, I probably still would have enjoyed it, but perhaps find it a bit silly.

That would not be an inaccurate interpretation, but it is where the charm of the film lies.   Raunchy innuendo, gross-out, slap-stick… all the reliable comedy tropes are there.   McBride revives the same slacker comedy type that he relies heavily on, and Franco channels more of his character in Pineapple express than his Spiderman villain, here to good effect.   If the film had remained a two-handed effort between these two, the gags could have gotten old fast, but introducing Portman’s Isabel gives the comedy greater balance, in addition to providing a love interest for Thadeous (and the associated comic opportunities).   In the end, there were quite a few belly laughs on offer, with many chuckles in between.   Bride of Film Nerd and I saw the film as a second half of a double feature with Bridesmaids, and I can safely say we both agree that Your Highness was the superior comedy.

We were also quite surprised that the special effects were quite decent, in addition to some quite incredible action sequences.   Each come from nowhere, and they are welcome when they arrive, giving the film a bit more flair whenever the running gags are in danger of becoming old.   It helps that Franco looks quite appropriately dashing in the role of action icon of the film.   Even McBride, when brought into his stand up and be counted final fight scenes, looks somewhat menacing, without extending the character beyond its origins to an unbelievable extent.

All of this commentary in many ways however is over-analysing what is a very simple film.   If you find stoner/slacker/frat boy humour offensive, you should already be well aware to keep away from this film.   If that list already has grabbed your interest though, there are many worse ways I can think of spending an enemy.   The film gets the fourth star if you are tired and can’t raise your mind above low-brow!!

4 stars out of 5http://filmactually.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.php

Your Highness on IMDB

Your Highness on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH7qH4Kb8wc]



Upcoming Genre Films for 2011 Part Deux – A Preview by Film Nerd

First of all thanks to Urban Fantasist for that awesome post.   Consider my appetite whetted.   As you referred to yourself though, there are certain tastes of mine that were not catered to, so here is a preview of 2011 from the perspective of someone who collected comics in high school.

I will be using the same list as Urban Fantasist from io9, but I will extend from there a little bit from a post by blastr featuring the top 55 trailers for films coming out in 2011.   I will of course avoid overlap between these lists.

The Green Hornet (io9, blastr)     January 14

A remake of the series that first captured hearts on radio serials then on television, featuring a rich guy turned vigilante.   The character was created by the guy who brought us The Lone Ranger, and at one point in the radio series it was indicated that the Hornet is descendant of the Ranger.   Directed by Michael Gondry of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind fame, it could prove interesting.

I Am Number Four (io9, blastr)     February 18

A group of nine aliens hiding out as teenagers on Earth are hunted down for extermination by the government.   With three down, this film follows the story of the fourth to be targeted.    Based on a novel of the same name.

The Adjustment Bureau (io9, blastr)     March 4

Matt Damon plays a congressman destined for big things, before he meets and falls for Emily Blunt’s ballerina.   He was supposed to never meet her again, but somehow does, and falls in love with her.   The mysterious agency of the title steps in to prevent the relationship, and put our heroes life back on the set path.   Escaping, running, and hiding ensues….

Battle: Los Angeles (io9, blastr)     March 11

Gritty war film with hand-held camera work with visceral closeups, etc.   Oh yeah, and humans are fighting aliens.   Sounds like a great big B-movie, but with a cast headlined by Aaron Eckhart, may prove a hidden gem.

Red Riding Hood (io9, blastr)     March 11

Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman star in this retelling of the classic tale, with the wolf recast as a werewolf connected the past of she with the hood.   Don’t know how Urban Fantasist missed that one, sounds like her cup of tea!!

Paul (io9, blastr)     March 18

Comedy starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, as two mates on an American road trip that meet foul mouth alien Paul, voiced by Seth Rogen.   Some of the gags on the trailer are foul, but delightfully so!!

Sucker Punch (io9, blastr)     March 25

A film by Zack Snyder, who previously brought us 300 and Watchmen.   He does have a talent for absolute visual splendour on-screen, and the trailers indicate this will be no different.   It is hard to get a grasp on what it is about, but seems to be the story of five girls attempting to escape the clutches of evil authority in a mental asylum…or is it a war zone???   Or a bordello??

Super (io9, blastr)     April 1

Okay, so the concept of this sounds very similar to Kick-Ass… average bloke dons a costume to fight crime.   So lacking in originality on that count perhaps.   Just watch the clip posted on blastr though and I dare you not to show some interest!!

Hanna (blastr only) April 8

Eric Bana’s ex-CIA agent trains daughter Saoirse Ronin to be the perfect assassin, with the goal to target Cate Blanchett.    A lot of talent there in that sentence, and a pretty cool concept to boot.    The trailer also kicks butt!!

Your Highness (io9, blastr) April 8

Danny McBride and James Franco reteam with the director of Pineapple Express to star as royal brothers on a rescue mission… a comedy that drags Natalie Portman and my favourite Zooey Deschanel along for the ride.   I am still giggling at the trailer… “What a coincidence, I was just about to finish thinking of you!!”   Hehe.

Thor (io9, blastr)     May 6

The Norse god is exiled to Earth, as reimagined by Marvel Comics.   Mjolnir was spotted after the credits to Iron Man 2, resulting in my second Nerdgasm for that film.   Those that don’t know that this is part of building towards Joss Whedon’s The Avengers should be stripped of their geek badge immediately!!

X-Men: First Class (io9 only)     June 3

The second Marvel movie for 2011.   With James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and January Jones on board, and Kick-Ass’ Michael Vaughn directing, can we put the travesty of X-Men: The Last Stand behind us???

Green Lantern (io9, bkastr)     June 17

A film based on a DC universe second tier hero.   Ryan Reynolds is good casting, but the CGI costume is still a little off-putting for me.   However, has the potential to be the next Iron Man, whom was one of Marvel’s second tier heroes.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part Two (io9, blastr)     July 15

You really want a synopsis for this one?

Captain America: The First Avenger (io9 only)     July 22

The source of my first Nerdgasm in Iron Man 2 was spotting Captain America’s shield partially constructed in Tony Stark’s work room.   Like Thor, this is building to Whedon’s The Avengers, and has Chris Evans donning the tights in what can only be called great casting!

Cowboys and Aliens (io9, blastr)     July 29

James Bond and Indiana Jones!!   The old west!!   Aliens!!    Daniel Craig waits from unconsciousness with a strange device on his arm.   Harrison Ford plays the villain of the piece, that teams with Craig when the bigger threat arrives.   Why didn’t they think of this earlier???

The Thing (io9 only)     October 14

Prequel to John Carpenter’s iconic original.   Stars Joel Edgerton, and personal favourite Mary Elizabeth Winstead, last seen in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.

Sherlock Holmes 2 (io9, blastr)     December 16

Downey Jr. and Law return to 221B Baker Street, this time to face the infamous Professor Moriarty.   Be warned, blastr screwed up, the trailer from the first film, not the first trailer for the second!!

The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn (io9 only) December 23

Steven Spielberg directs his first fully motion capture film.   Peter Jackson produces.   They will be swapping roles for the sequel!!   Stars Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost.   Some writing was even done by Doctor Who‘s Steven Moffatt!! Add that element of retro charm and I am sold!

Man, that is a lot of movies…. I hope Bride of Film Nerd doesn’t kill me when we need a second mortgage!!


Date Night

Director: Shawn Levy

Cast: Steve Carell, Tina Fey, Mark Wahlberg. James France, Mila Kunis, Ray Liotta

Synopsis: Phil and Claire Foster are a middle-aged married coule leading busy lives both working and raising their children.   They decide a night out at a fancy restaurant will revive the spark in their relationship, however as they neglected to make a booking they are unable to get a table.   When the reservation f0r Triplehorn goes unanswered, the Fosters steal the booking.   This backfires though, when they are mistaken for the Triplehorns, who have been involved in some shady dealings.

A review by Film Nerd.

I do enjoy a good comedy, despite it not being one of the first genres I would generally go and see.   I went along to this one as future contributor Bride of Film Nerd wished to go (and I believe she will be posting her own review for all the comedy fans).   Thankfully I can report that this is a good comedy.   Pratfalls get a bit much after a while in many comedies, often a sign there is little more intelligence on offer.   But this is a comedy with heart and real chemistry between its leads, putting it a step above.

Carell and Fey are two of the most intelligent comics of the American small screen at this time, Carell with the American “The Office” and Fey with “30 Rock”.   So putting them together in one film could have either been inspired or the work of a studi seeing the commercial benefits.   But the result was indeed the former.   They do not overplay the role of weary couple, there are no out of place outbursts or breakdowns at the start of the film.   They do display a more naturalistic scenario of the affection is still there, they are able to share a joke and wearily do favours for each other, but life is little more than routine.

So the ante is upped, mistaken identity has them on the run from the criminals and from the law alike, and yes, it does lead to some ridiculous situations.   Thankfully, rarely does it feel like it stretches credibility, and where it does, you are normally laughing to hard to care about that anyway.   Of special note was a new take on the classic car chase sequence.   Rarely do I apply the term side splitting to moments in film comedy, but this one certainly applies.

The other minor roles are performed well.   Franco and Kunis get great mileage out of very small roles, Franco’s skill for comedy once again on great display after his original break from more dramatic roles with Pineapple Express.   In addition, Wahlberg’s chest is a character all on it’s own!   Add a well recognised gangster actor in the role of mob boss, you can ask little more.

My review of this piece is biased.   Bride of Fim Nerd and myself shared many a sidelong glance that indicated “Hell, that could be us one day!”   It doesn’t help that before seeing the fil we also have ourselves a weekly date night just like the couple on screen.   That said, I feel the film will appeal to a wide audience, and I highly recommend it.

4 stars (out of a possible 5)

Date Night on IMDB

Date Night on Rotten Tomatoes

Trailer [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aspBKFz2dBI]