Following a brief, artful prelude introducing us to the film’s post-viral, post-apocalyptic setting, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens with an extreme closeup on the eyes of Caesar, the highly evolved chimpanzee memorably portrayed (with CGI enhancement) by Andy Serkis in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. An extreme closeup on Caesar’s eyes will also be the final image in director Matt Reeves’ sequel, yet the differences between these cinematic bookends are as wide and varied as the differences between Rise, a half-great, half-clumsy hit, and Dawn, which is, hands down, the most exciting, resonant, and humane Hollywood blockbuster of the summer, if not the millennium.
July 2, 10:40 a.m.-ish: My screenings begin with the demonic-possession thriller Deliver Us from Evil, and I notice, during the “found footage” prelude, that the action begins on the Fourth of July. So, clearly, the film is being released at the right time. Ninety minutes later, I notice, during the climactic exorcism, that the action ends on 4/20. So, clearly, the filmmakers were high.
After the conclusion of its dialogue-free, if very noisy, prelude – one in which we discover that it was actually extraterrestrial robots, and not the Ice Age, that killed off the dinosaurs – the first words heard in Transformers: Age of Extinction are “Oh, shit!” I took that line as a metaphor for what we could expect over the next two and a half hours, but then, during my Friday-morning screening, it was immediately followed by another outburst: the sound of the little kid behind me laughing his ass off.
Going to the cineplex this weekend? Every Friday morning at 9 a.m. you can listen to Mike Schulz dish on recent movie releases & talk smack about Hollywood celebs on the Quad City Rocker ROCK 104-9FM, with the fabulous morning team of Rock1049.com. The morning crew previews upcoming releases, too.
Or you can check the Reader Web site and listen to their latest conversation by the warm glow of your computer.
Never miss a pithy comment from these three scintillating pundits again.
Friday, June 27, 2014: Discussion of "Jersey Boys" and "Think Like a Man Too," and a preview of "Transformers: Age of Extinction," the clip for which has Mark Wahlberg's vehicle talking -- talking -- about the Autobots, and Wahlberg then coming to the conclusion that the vehicle might be a Transformer. Can't pull nothin' over on Mark.
Jersey Boys, Clint Eastwood’s film version of 2005’s still-running Broadway smash, is a big, bizarre, cornball, clever, terrible, wonderful movie. It’s hard to fathom what, beyond its inherent appeal, made Eastwood want to take on the project; this bio-musical about 1960s pop sensations the Four Seasons seems so clearly designed for Scorsese that’s it’s almost some kind of joke that it instead wound up in the hands of a man who, stylistically and temperamentally, is Scorsese’s polar opposite. Yet somehow, astonishingly, the damned thing works. Its parts may be stronger than the whole – at least if you’re allowed to cherry-pick the parts – but the film is affecting and entertaining and alive, and exudes more sheer joy than any other title on Eastwood’s 43-year directing résumé.