REVIEW: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Written by: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (screenplay), Pierre Boulle (book)
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, and John Lithgow

Rarely does anything even hinting at the label “philosophical” come close to being produced by a Hollywood studio, especially in the summer.  Rise of the Planet of the Apes is such a movie, though.  More than half of it is spent meditating on the birth of free will and the nature of violence.

This reboot is actually smart, and it’s propelled by a volcanic lead performance.  I’m not talking about James Franco.  He plays a fairly typical scientist motivated to cure a disease for personal reasons (his dad has Alzheimer’s).  I’m referring to Andy Serkis, who breathes so much life into the role of the ape Caesar that it comes close to touching what he did in the Lord of the Rings films.  He shows the true artistry of motion-capture acting.

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REVIEW: Predators

Predators
Directed by: Nimród Antal
Written by: Alex Litvak & Michael Finch (screenplay)
Starring: Adrian Brody, Alice Braga, Topher Grace, and Laurence Fishburne

If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that Adrian Brody would be the sci-fi star of 2010, I would’ve either chuckled or responded with “Yeah, so?”  With his performance in Splice as a genetic engineer he gave us an emotional core, and with Predators he returns to the King Kong action hero he surprised us with in 2005.

Predators is another franchise reboot, and it’s not too bad.  For the action-junkies out there looking to avoid Despicable Me or any of the other 3D cash-ins of the week, here is a semi-intelligent, well-made thriller.  It borrows from The Most Dangerous Game, which in its original form is a demented guy who brings people to his island so he can hunt them.  Here, it’s high-tech aliens.

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