Category Archives: movie reviews

My thoughts on “Rise of The Planet of The Apes”

I first saw “Planet of the Apes” (the 1968 version) at a drive-in theatre at a very young age—old enough to remember it but I am guessing around 1969 when I hit twelve. It held double billing with “Barbarella”, which we never did finish watching that night. At the first shot of a half naked Jane Fonda my dad was out of the parking lot. With a car full of three kids, ages twelve to eighteen, and one wife he really didn’t have much of a choice. (Since that night I have seen bits and pieces of that movie and I am glad he left.)

The story of “The Planet of the Apes” fueled my young imagination and the state of the art effects (SOA for 1968 at least) thrilled me. The tale of three astronauts being lost in space and returning to an Earth in the future that is ruled by apes left me wanting more, asking questions—How could this happen? The sequels that followed merged throughout the years, one finally getting around to answering the questions—yet not good enough. I’m not going to even mention the television series from 1974 (all 14 episodes) or the ones that followed.

This is a cult classic, I love it and I have all the main movies. When the remake came out in 2001 I looked forward to it and was a little disappointed.  Maybe it was Markee Mark or the fact that Heston returned just to reverse a famous line. (I wonder how much they paid him for that.) It just didn’t work for me. I would watch it again, but I would not add it to my collection. Just as I started to think Hollywood has run out of ideas, out comes “Rise of The Planet of the Apes.” The trailer itself gave me goose bumps.

This movie has answered most of my questions about how it all happened. This is the perfect prequel and one of the few films I have been happy buying before I see it. (Blu Ray DVD has awesome extras so be sure to check them out.) As the film makers did for Golem in Lord of the Rings, they hired Andy Serkis to walk around in a suit with all kinds of electrodes and LED’s so computer animators could fill in the rest to make Ceaser. Mr. Serkis is awesome as the first (technically he is the second) intelligent ape and pulls this off flawlessly. His expressions and mannerisms come through even after the awesome computer graphics are applied.  There were a lot of people dressed in those suits for this movie that were taught how to “Ape Walk” by Terry Notary, the “movement choreographer,” who also played two of the apes. The writing is right on track with perfectly thrown in references to the original movie, some hidden and some not. There is one scene where a TV is playing in the background and I heard Heston’s voice, but I haven’t figured out which movie it is yet. I may by the third viewing. Tom Felton, Draco Malfoy from Harry Potter, just seems to reprise his mean boy role, but it ends up to be an electrifying performance none the less.

Still, for me, one question remains unanswered…but I can’t ask it or I will ruin the movie for anyone that hasn’t seen it. But go ahead, watch it, enjoy it. It is well worth it.


Of Help, Tron and Super 8

This weekend at the movies almost hit a high note, being one of my better movie renting weekends in a long time, worthy enough to write about. We will start with the oldest.

1982 in movies almost looked like a year of sequels; I counted nine including “Star Trek II”, and a mixture of horror sequels like “Amityville II”, “Halloween III” and “Rocky III”. In June, Disney released “Tron”. Unfortunately for them it fought tooth and nail with Star Trek and ET that year so the box office results were not that pretty. This was also the year of “Bladerunner”, “The Dark Crystal”, and “Poltergiest”. Plus John Carpenter’s “The Thing”, which explains why Disney used Jeff Bridges in “Tron” instead of using Kurt Russell. I’m not really sure who would have been better at it but the acting was a little bad. Thirty years ago, (showing my age again) I loved video games, spending a lot of afternoons in arcades and I was looking forward to this movie. My exact impressions of it when I saw it for the first time are lost in the cloudy web of my memory. I only rented it because I had “Tron: Legacy” in my que and I can’t possibly watch the sequel to a movie over 30 years old when I haven’t seen the first movie more than once or twice. My wife refused to watch it so I started it alone. That right there should have warned me. The acting was ….well…it still just wasn’t there for me. Never did finish watching it. I think I have to watch “Tron: Legacy” alone too. (Or maybe send it back without opening it.)

My step daughter’s friend brought a movie over Saturday, I figure they just couldn’t find anywhere else to watch it so they came over for a short visit for the first time in a week. She looked dead at me and said, “Sorry B…It’s a chick flick, but it’s good.”

She was right; “The Help” is a story about a writer in 1960’s Jackson Mississippi that gets the notion in her head to write about life as a maid during the Civil Rights Movement, from the maid’s perspective. This true story held my attention, made me laugh and even feel bad sometimes. I will never look at a piece of pie the same way again. I highly recommended this to all. The acting, writing and historical accuracy (as far as I know) were perfectly done.

Probably my favorite scene:

The last one was a pleasant surprise.

               No, this is not a zombie movie, sort of. Super 8 is yet another movie that starts off making you think you will be watching an alien invasion movie—seen enough of those this year—but it is not. The tale is of a group of kids that are helping a friend shoot a movie when they witness a train wreck. Something in the train escapes and causes strange havoc in this small town. I didn’t catch exactly when this movie took place but possibly twenty years after the excitement in Roswell New Mexico. Produced by Steven Speilberg and written, produced and directed by J.J. Abrams (my, he has been busy). This is another must see movie about a lost alien trapped on Earth that just wants to go home—filled with a pie full of new young actors and a few older ones that help them hold it together like Kyle Chandler. This may seem like E.T. (Another movie from some young director back in 1982 that was the story of a group of kids finding a lost alien that just wants to leave) but only in pieces.

I am glad it wasn’t another alien invasion movie because I am getting tired of those. I do believe that Earth has been visited before—I don’t think they stayed long. I actually don’t blame them. However, according to Hollywood I think we have been invaded over one hundred times at least by evil aliens that wanted something from us. I suppose I would like a more peaceful invasion, like this one here:

               I can’t wait for that one. So, what are your thoughts? Do you think we have been visited by aliens? Or did they just hit orbit, observe and leave?

Just the right time.

Just at a point where I needed a good laugh from a silly movie, Netflix came to my rescue this weekend. Luckily at a time my mom was driving me crazy and the looney bin seemed like a short walk away, help was a shorter walk to the mailbox. It was in the form a black comedy with George Segal and Ruth Gordon in the 1970 movie Where’s Poppa? (This was released in the theaters (Overseas?) as “Going Ape.” I like this title better.) For the past ten years, when ever my wife calls her dad she says, “Where’s Poppa?” Now I know where she got that.

Where's Poppa?George stars as Gordon Hocheiser, a down on his luck single lawyer living with his mom – Ruth Gordon. The first scene alone sets the pace for this little flick that my wife TOLD me I had to pay attention to. As always, I did as I was told – and was pleasantly surprised. (Her exact words were, “If you hadn’t met me, this is where you would be today.”)

Needless to say, old Gordon is not having a lot of fun with his mom living in the apartment with him; he even goes so far as fantasizing about her death /disappearance. With no help in sight – Gordon searches for a capable nurse to help take care of his forgetful mom. Instead, he ends up finding the love of his life in the form of the beautiful Louise Callen. Played by Trish Van Devere , (her movie debut) Louise is a recently divorced woman that was married for a whole thirty six hours. This starts moving once Momma scares off Louise and Gordon is forced to call his brother Sidney, played over the top by Ron Leibman.  Sidney got lucky early on and married a Gladys, played by Rae Allen. He seems to be a little henpecked but when Gordon calls and threatens to send Momma to a home – he comes running. Unfortunately he likes running though the park…a lot, even with his wife telling him not to.

The following is not an exact quote:

Gladys: You’re not going!

Sidney: But I have to, Gordon needs me. And if I don’t – she’s moving in here!

Gladys: (Pause) Okay, go – run as fast as you can! GO THROUGH THE PARK!

I think the tush scene (“I’d recognize that tush anywhere!”) is worth the eighty-two minute run time for this movie. Carl Reiner directed it so he threw his son Rob in a cameo which was fun, but luckily didn’t last too long. Paul Sorvino also had a small part for his first movie role.

Because of a scene that happens during Sidney’s second run through the park I am only leaving this with three stars – which is very generous.

During the lazy weekend we also watched a movie I can’t remember the title of, so it must only be a one star. It reminded me of “Cliffhanger” a little except the weather was nicer. We also began a triple feature of “The Transformers” (Robots in disguise) but ran out of time before we saw the latest one.

Sometime in the next week I will be throwing out my thoughts on this years Fall TV season – so far filled with nostalgic flops, flat remakes and dinosaurs, so please come back, and thanks for visiting.

Life in the fast lane?

MOVIE: We had two movies on our list to watch this weekend, Friday was Little Fockers. To be honest, I was playing Civilization V and didn’t even watch the movie. The wife said it was cute. I always loved Robert Di Niro when he plays tough serious guys, and the humor he does in those roles makes me laugh, but I thought the first one was stupid and I knew this one would probably be worse. I find it hard to believe they made three of these movies. I never could get the humor of Ben Stiller and I simply hated Zoolander. I know sometimes a silly stupid comedy is what you need. I suppose this is something I never really got into. I have always gone by the theory that if a movie doesn’t make me laugh in the first ten minutes I won’t like it. Maybe I should change that to thirty. I bought Civilization two nights before just so I would be ready.

LIFE: Saturday morning, as I was trying to conquer the world instead of writing, my mom called and said she wasn’t feeling good so I took her to the ER, alone. To make a long story even shorter than it needs to be, she was admitted and is currently having a large amount of tests done to figure out why. The thing about Medicare is that since she doesn’t have to pay for it the hospital insists that they run every test they can, she doesn’t pay for it but they get their money either way. And they wonder why Medicare is having financial problems. She has improved since she has been in. This isn’t the first time she had heart issues that the hospitals never seem to find anything when she goes in. I was there from 10 AM until 5 PM, and I needed to be. When I got home – the wife couldn’t come because she was playing taxi service – we settled down and watched another flick:

MOVIE: Unstoppable (2010) is the tale of a runaway train speeding through Pennsylvania. (This is based on the true story of engine 8888 from the CXS stables which ran away in May of 2001. It traveled from Walbridge, Ohio to a town about 55 miles north of Columbus reaching speeds of up to 47 MPH.) This had enough nail biting suspense I had to stop playing my game and actually watch it. Chris Pine and Denzel Washington star as the two heroic engineers, actually Washington was the Engineer and Pine was the Conductor. (Is that type casting from Star Trek?) They ended up stopping the train and saving a city from almost total destruction. Type casting again? This is a great movie with enough action and suspense to keep your heart racing and your toes tingling. Writers did take advantage of a few plot twists I am sure, like making it go faster and carrying more than just two cars of dangerous chemicals, not to mention a steep curve they had to negotiate. I’ll have to dig a little deeper to find out more and wonder if my favorite line in the movie was real dialogue:

“How’s Will (Pine)?” Connie asked when he made it back into the cab.

“He’s ahh…He’s different. Over” Frank (Washington) replied perfectly straight.

Guess you will have to watch it. I did find this new clip from the real incident:

And this trailer:

TELEVISON: Sunday was a little different too. This time the wife was gone all day and I was stuck at home. You would think I would get more writing done wouldn’t you? I watched my Star Trek marathon; I’m just now finishing up the second season since the kids have an issue with Sci-fi, as I continued conquering the world on Civilization V. I think I have three more nations to kill before I manage it.

WRITING: As I might have mentioned in a previous post, I signed up for the NaNoWriMo, the grueling month of November when the only thing I will be doing is writing. I have three plot lines in mind:

1)      A sequel to Journey of Tara where Dirk and Tara search for someone behind the killing of thousands of people.

2)      A Sci-Fi story that involves time travel and dimensional shifts.

3)      A Fantasy that sends a Prince on a journey to find the murderer of a King that leads him into a land of dark black magic (maybe – I think this has been done before.)

One thing I have been trying to do is type at least 1667 words per day, that is what you need for 50,000 a month, and I got close Friday on a small piece I was working on, 1250 words. Need to do better.

As a side note, I would like to thank everyone that downloaded my books last week – it was a record breaking week for me and that always makes me feel good, as do positive reviews. (Hint) {If there are any negative reviews please send them to me so I can add comments as needed and I will return them.

Just kidding…


It was a joke. }

Answer me this;

Are you signed up for NaNoWriMo? I’m looking forward to it myself, just need to do it!