Friday, August 5, 2011

Weekend Movie Guide

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" - James Franco, Andy Serkis, Frieda Pinto, Bryan Cox
Designed as a prequel to the Charlton Heston films of the '60s and '70s and living in a world in which Tim Burton's "Ape" vision never happened (a world I think we can all agree would be much better), "RPA" focuses on a scientist (Franco) who breeds extreme intelligence in a chimp named Caesar (Serkis). When his experiments begin to get out of hand, his program is shut down but not before Caesar liberates thousands of highly evolved apes. Mayhem ensues. It is no exaggeration to say that the fact that "RPA" is getting great reviews is the movie-related shock of 2011. I tossed aside any interest or care for this film upon seeing the first trailer and honestly assumed it would get panned. Instead, "RPA" went "certified fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes almost immediately and all of the critics I consider trustworthy have fallen in line with high praise. As a huge fan of the original "Planet of the Apes" and an equally huge hater of the most recent "Ape" film, I now find myself seriously considering a trip to the theater this weekend when I had expected to stay away.

Value: $7 I'm still not willing to declare this a smash hit in the making but if you'd asked me a week ago, I would have set the value at around $2. Also, the tag line ("Evolution Becomes Revolution") is pretty rockin'.

"The Change-Up" - Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde
When two friends, one a family man (Bateman) and one a womanizing single man (Reynolds), pee in a fountain together after a night of drinking, they awake to find that they have swapped bodies. I suppose funny, raunchy things happen and then they switch back, each with a new appreciation for their lives. In a year that has been jam packed with R-rated comedies, is there really room for another one, especially one revolving around the tired concept of body switching? I love Bateman and Reynolds and I admit the trailers have done a nice job of making you think "Change Up" will be funny but unfortunately that appears to be all this thing has to offer.

Value: $1 If it shows up on HBO in a few months I might check it out. Otherwise, I'm totally out and you should be, too.

"The Whistleblower" - Rachel Weisz, Monica Bellucci, Vanessa Redgrave (limited)
Based on a true story, "Whistleblower" follows an American cop (Weisz) who takes a job in Bosnia and ends up discovering a UN cover-up of rampant sex trafficking. This is the first feature film for director Larysa Kondracki and has gotten some award attention in a decidedly award caliber-free year. Weisz is also drawing award consideration. I caught a few minutes of "The Constant Gardener" on TV today and was hit with what an excellent actress Weisz really is. I don't know why I forget that at times but I do. Regardless, "Whistleblower" could be a major player later this year.

Value: $5 This really isn't the type of film most of us want to see this time of year but when it's on DVD in a few months, it could definitely be worth a look.

"Bellflower" - Evan Glodell, Tyler Dawson, Jessie Wiseman (limited)
Two friends (Glodell and Dawson) have their plans of preparing for the coming apocalypse (by developing WMDs) thrown off by the introduction of a woman (Wiseman) into their lives. This is quite the concept film. I've no idea what to make of "Bellflower" to be honest but wow, it is getting some outstanding reviews. Consider me slightly intrigued.

Value: $3 With a little more buzz I could be convinced to rent this but as it is, I'd give this a shot on Netflix Instant.

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