Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) *****
I have to admit I went into this film with low expectations but was definitely blown away with the great storyline and outstanding CGI and Rupert Wyatt’s stylish directing. Although not being a huge fan of the original series I had my doubts that James Franco could step into the shoes of Charlton Heston from the 1968 version. Nevertheless he filled his shoes and exceeded my expectations and I will make a bold statement and say this 2011 update far surpasses the original. Andy Serkis has proven himself an amazing actor with his CGI performances as Gollum and King Kong and he surely did not disappoint playing the lead Ape, Caesar.
James Franco plays brilliant San Francisco scientist Will Rodman who is working on a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease using chimps as his test subjects. One of the chimps offspring (Caesar) is given to him and Rodman takes him home as a pet after exposing him to the virus cure which grants him super intelligence. After having gained intelligence and mild aggression, Caesar is held captive at a primate facility where he eventually unleashes a more powerful form of the virus among the other primates where they eventually escape into the city and create havoc.
Andy Serkis is amazing in this film and shows a true talent for getting into the primate mentality after having plenty of practice playing King Kong for three hours. This film serves as a prequel to the original series but develops its own internal continuity and will surely be followed by numerous sequels. If they can keep up the energy from this film they will definitely make a great trilogy of Apes. Co-starring John Lithgow, Brian Cox and Frieda Pinto. Go see this today.
Check out this insider look at Andy Serkis performing motion capture technology.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) *****
Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Frieda Pinto
#10 Contagion (September 9, 2011) Steven Soderbergh
This new Steven Soderbergh thriller looks terrifying! This horror thriller from the director of the Ocean’s 11 trilogy, concerns an outbreak of a deadly virus and the repercussions it has on the world as an international team of doctors must deal with the dangerous outbreak. Great cast starring Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Kate Winslet and Gwyneth Paltrow. Contagion will be released on September 9, 2011.
#9 The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (August 5, 2011) Rupert Wyatt
I can honestly say I was never a fan of the original series of Planet of the Apes nor the 2001 remake by Tim Burton. I saw the original with Charlton Heston and thought it was pure nonsense not to mention the Burton remake was just dreadful. Although with the casting of James Franco and Andy Serkis it has sparked my interest to see an alternate reality where apes take over the world. The trailer actually looks pretty cool and I can assume the great Andy Serkis will be doing motion capture technology once again. After playing King Kong and Gollum you have got to love this guy.
#8 Red State (October 19, 2011) Kevin Smith
This latest Kevin Smith film looks to be even more ballsy and controversial then 1999’s Dogma although the humor element will be completely eliminated from this film. This will be Kevin Smith’s first film in the horror genre and even before its wide release has been gaining controversy for its unflattering portrayal of middle America and its indictment on organized religion. Two topics Kevin Smith is very good at mocking and always a pleasure to watch. Red State will be rather interesting and definitely stir up further controversy. Red State will have a wide release on October 19, 2011 just in time for Halloween. This looks to be a great horror film and thankfully we no longer have those ridiculous Saw movies to deal with.
#7 Our Idiot Brother (August 26, 2011) Jesse Peretz
Paul Rudd is great and I will go see just about anything he stars in because the guy knows comedy. Although his last film Dinner for Schmucks was horribly unfunny and stupid, My Idiot Brother may redeem him and be along the same lines of the hilarious I Love You, Man. Our Idiot Brother also stars the sexy Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel as his poor unwitting sisters who must deal with, you guessed it, their Idiot Brother Ned (Rudd) and his stupid shenanigans. Every year among the 50 or so “comedies” that get released, only a small handful are actually funny. So far this year we have had Bridesmaids which was a decent comedy. Hopefully this turns out to be the comedy of the year because so far it has not been a good year for comedy films. Our Idiot Brother will be released August 26, 2011.
#6 The Iron Lady (December 16, 2011) Phyllida Lloyd
I love the biopic drama. Especially when they cast amazing actors to play rather dull or forgotten historical figures. Then they create a fascinating portrayal of a person who wasn’t very interesting or well liked creating a renewed sense of interest in the person. The amazing Meryl Streep will portray former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during her years in office leading up to the 1982 Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina. The film is already creating a stir among critics for its subject matter and the fact that an American is playing a British Royal figure. This could be another award-winning performance by the highly talented Meryl Streep. The Iron Lady will be released December 16, 2011.
#5 War Horse (December 28, 2011) Steven Spielberg
Oh Steven Spielberg, we love you and hate you at the same time. You created some of the finest work of cinematic art ever seen yet also bastardized them with incessant sequels while also serving as Producer to some of the worst films ever released. Spielberg is truly the director we love to hate yet cannot get enough of. For every Saving Private Ryan or Jaws or Schindler’s List, he also produces such garbage as Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, The Transformers trilogy, A.I. and the Jurassic Park sequels and so on and so forth. Spielberg’s upcoming War Horse actually looks like it could be one of his next great films along the lines of the aforementioned Saving Private Ryan. We won’t know until we see it but judging by the trailer it looks great. War Horse is a World War 1 epic and will be released December 28, 2011
#4 The Skin I Live In (October 7, 2011) Pedro Almodovar
Judging by the trailer and the synopsis this film looks highly original and very thought-provoking. Antonio Banderas will star as a brilliant plastic surgeon who is creating a synthetic skin and will use a volatile young woman as his guinea pig. Highly original premise (something barely seen anymore in Hollywood) and will reunite Director Pedro Almodovar with Antonio Banderas. The film had its premier at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year to outstanding reviews and will have a limited US release on October 7, 2011.
#3 The Rum Diary (October 28, 2011) Bruce Robinson
Johnny Depp will once again play a Hunter S. Thompson inspired character after 1997’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Here instead of a Vegas road trip with a suitcase full of psychedelics, Depp will play a Rum drinking expatriate journalist who leaves New York City and relocates to Puerto Rico and falls head over heels in love with a local woman ultimately becoming obsessed with her. The film will explore themes of jealousy, treachery and alcoholic lust among a staff of American newspaper journalists.
No trailer available yet.
#2 Hugo (November 23, 2011) Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese’s latest film appears to be his most family oriented film ever. Hopefully he didn’t get tired of making films about the mafia or eccentric psychopaths.
Hugo Cabret is a boy who lives a secret life inside the walls of a Paris train station who goes on an exciting journey with an eccentric young girl and a broken robot. It will be interesting to see Scorsese directing his first Family Adventure film in 3D. I can’t imagine watching a Scorsese film where nobody gets their head blown off or beaten to a bloody pulp. This should be interesting.
#1 The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (December 21, 2011) David Fincher
How could you not be excited to see David Fincher’s next film based on the popular Swedish film? The film genius that made The Social Network, Zodiac, Fight Club and Seven is now at the top of his game. This upcoming remake of the Swedish novel and 2009 Swedish language film of the same name will be an American version starring Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara and Stellan Skarsgard. This looks to be an outstanding adaptation and remake and will have Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails returning to score the film and the script is written by Steve Zaillian (American Gangster, Schindler’s List). This looks awesome!
Check out the trailer.