John Lithgow

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Year: 2011
Directed By: Rupert Wyatt
Written By: Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver

RYAN’S REVIEW

I specifically remember getting mad about this movie before ever seeing it. I remember following the production, as I do with so many films, and I remembered when it changed from simply being an original film and into a Planet of the Apes film. That disappointed me as the trend was beginning to emerge wherein nothing seemed willing to try unless it could tie itself to an older successful franchise. We are fully into the era of remakes and reboots now and I hate it. I considered the switch in direction of this film and the assimilation it sought into a successful franchise as a cop out. It does not sit next to the original film in my collection simply because it does not belong there. Planet of the Apes was an awesome franchise that needed to be left alone and shouldn’t be touched again after the terrible effort by Tim Burton almost 15 years ago. I see this movie and franchise as an altogether different thing and see its intentional effort to include itself as simply a marketing ploy to make more money.

After seeing the film for the first time I found that I enjoyed it so much I was only more frustrated by the efforts to make it a psuedo reboot. Simply because it didn’t need to do that. It’s a good movie and good enough to stand on its own. There are certain similarities it bears to the original story but that does not make it the same. I have and will always say it is ridiculous to remake or reboot Cold War themed films. The conflict is gone and over and the movies that were about it don’t have any context to be remade today. Whether it’s a movie about high school youths who suddenly have to defend themselves from invasion (Red Dawnor a film about the consequences of self imposed destruction by fighting one another with doomsday weapons. The reality of that situation does not exist today and remakes about the situations do not translate. This movie however is neither a remake or a reboot despite what the title suggests.

This movie has its own social problem the story revolves around. An important one at that being the search for a cure or treatment for Alzheimers. Such a wicked disease is the one that robs us of the very thing that makes us who we are. It is even worse for those who love the afflicted. The husbands and wives who have to watch their spouses deteriorate and disappear after decades of union. It’s an illness that has been around forever but even today there is not enough effort being made to combat or cure the disease. If nothing else this movie is great for bringing more awareness to a problem that needs more money and more research.

This movie has a really good story and excellent special effects. Andy Serkis is an incredibly talented one of a kind actor. I love this franchise because it gives him the opportunity to display his exceptional skills performing in a motion capture suit. The next generation of actors that utilizes technology more and more will turn to the efforts of Andy Serkis when they study their art. Serkis in this movie works his magic in the suit as Caesar. These movements came easy to him this time around because he performed as an ape before in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. The rest of the cast is good enough. The only other one I’d deign to mention would be John Lithgow. Watching a second of his films in a row is a rare opportunity and it’s interesting because the roles are so different. Of course he is great in both of them because he is such an exceptional actor.

There are scenes in this movie that echo the original Planet of the Apes franchise but I remember reading somewhere along the way that they did that in re-shoots after production had wrapped. I could be wrong about that but it is the impression I have been under for 5 years and I stubbornly hold onto the idea. I think this movie is great, so long as it is separate and its own thing away from the original franchise. I think this story of one genetically mutated ape building and leading an uprising is really cool. I read somewhere that in the original ending James Franco was supposed to die but they changed it at the last minute. I actually think that might have made for a better ending to the movie but the movie is just fine the way it is.

This movie is a really cool start to an ongoing franchise that has plenty of potential to end well with a third film. The film builds a powerful story while setting up the sequel along the way. If you haven’t seen it you are missing out on a fun franchise. This movie is easily worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

 

Advertisements

Ricochet

Year: 1991
Directed By: Russell Mulcahy
Written By: Fred Dekker and Menno Meyjes (story), Steven E. de Souza (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I came across this movie on late night TV about 9 years ago and found myself entranced. What a fantastic and demented story about revenge.  It has a cool 90s feel to it too. I specifically remember going out of my way on the following day to find a copy of it and buy it.

I distinctly remember how much I disliked Denzel Washington when I came across this movie. I have never had a very fond opinion of him but specifically remember having a big problem with him winning the Academy Award in 2003 for Training Day. I have still never revisited that movie so my old opinion still stands. Yet, having a bad opinion of him I was so surprised by his performance in this movie. I have always thought he had a chip on his shoulder about something, he just comes across as such an angry actor to me. In this movie he isn’t like that though, he’s so loose and seems to genuinely be enjoying himself.

I grew up watching John Lithgow play the foolish yet humorous part of Dick on 3rd Rock from the Sun. I thought it was awesome when I saw him as a bad guy for the first time in Cliffhanger, but this is different. In this movie he’s not simply a bad guy, he’s a straight up psychopath with one man in his cross hairs. Motivated by the prospect of revenge Lithgow’s villainous Earl Talbot Blake perseveres for seven years in prison planning all the while what he will do to exact that revenge. I thought his plan for revenge was what made this movie interesting. I love a good bad guy and Lithgow’s Blake fits the bill. He is cunning and ruthless with no inhibitions what so ever. Driven only by hate he is the exact type of person you don’t want to get on the wrong side of.

This is a cool movie and I like it, but it literally provokes nothing more from me than what has already been written. I think if you have the opportunity to see this one you are in for a surprising treat. I don’t know how likely that is because this seems to be a generally forgotten movie. It’s a cool story with interesting plot twists and good performances. That makes it worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Orange County

Year: 2002
Directed By: Jake Kasdan
Written By: Mike White

RYAN’S REVIEW

Here is another movie that simply doesn’t belong.  I fell victim to the easy deals offered by Amazon Prime and ordered it at a really cheap price.  I remembered that I didn’t like it when it came out but thought it was worth a second chance.  I remembered thinking this movie meant something, that it had to be important because of all the people involved but despite myself I just didn’t like it.

This movie gave me every reason to think that young Colin Hanks was on the way to following in his father’s footsteps and on the way to being the next big actor.  Tom Hanks had yet to start slowing down in his career and his son was a spitting image of him in this movie full of famous comedians.  This movie wasn’t much of a hit but I thought it represented more to come from Colin Hanks.  After 12 years though I feel safe in saying that was a completely false assumption. Hanks has been part of some great things over the years, most recently the stellar first season of Fargo on FX, but he has never risen anywhere close to his father’s level.

This movie co-starred Jack Black who was largely up and coming at the time and it sported cameos from many big players.  Making brief appearances in this movie were the likes of Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, John Lithgow, Ben Stiller, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, and Leslie Mann.  I thought all those names meant this was significant.  I thought it meant that this movie was better than it actually was but I was wrong.  Having watched it again for the blog I just can’t help feeling the exact same way I felt when I watched it at 18.

This movie has a laugh here and there but it’s not a good movie.  I won’t go as far as to say it’s not worth your time to see but you could undoubtedly find something better to do with your time when faced with options.

NEXT MOVIE: The Other Sister (1999)

The Campaign

Year: 2012
Directed By: Jay Roach
Written By: Chris Henchy & Shawn Harwell (screenplay and story), Adam McKay (story)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was not a movie I was interested in when it first started being advertised earlier this year.  It looked like just another stupid Will Ferrell movie to me and I didn’t have much faith in what he and Zach Galifianakis would do together.  I think both of these men are funny, but both of them tend to play roles of men more stupid than anything else and I always feel they were overacting a bit.  Well this movie was available On Demand during the heart of the political process with elections nearing, and I reluctantly agreed to watch it with Amber one night. I was very surprised when I found myself laughing through the whole thing.  This movie is exaggerated, as most Will Ferrell movies are, but this one has plenty of truth masked within all of the silliness. It says something bold and believable about our political process in this country and mocks the joke that it has all become.

Will Ferrell definitely has his moments and he also has the ability to be a serious actor from time to time and I like that about him.  I have always felt he was at his best as a supporting man like his role in Old School but it was that role that gave him all the power.  As Frank the Tank he was so funny that he became one of America’s favorite comedians.  His career exploded after that but I am usually hot and cold with what he produces.  For example, Step Brothers may be a funny movie but the part he plays is just so overdone with stupidity and immaturity.  I tend to find myself more annoyed than humored in movies like that.  That persona works in many movies though so I can’t argue with it.  I thought Land of the Lost was hilarious and I really liked his more serious roles in movies like Everything Must Go and Stranger than FictionHowever I have never been a fan of Ricky Bobby or plenty of his other work.  I thought things were falling apart for him when he was cast in The Office as the show was beginning to fall apart but I was wrong.  In this movie as the perfectly named politician “Cam Brady” I thought he was hilarious.  His stupid persona seems fitting for a politician ironically enough and he nailed it.  My favorite part is when he sees the new Marty Huggins ad that has his son in it.  I am never a fan of infidelity in a movie but for some reason when it happened in this one I couldn’t stop laughing about it.  When Ferrell says “you make my son call you daddy I fuck your wife, that’s the deal!” I fell to the floor.  When he showed up and Marty’s wife was watching Drew Carey on The Price is Right it was a done deal. Ferrell may be a bit too goofy for me at times but the guy is undeniably funny and I really enjoyed his role in this one.

I have written my thoughts on Galifianakis before in our reviews on The Hangover movies.  I think what I said specifically was that he would only get as far as that beard would take him.  So it was nice to see him diversify and go simply with the perv stache in this one.  I like Galifianakis quite a bit because after all he is from my home state and grew up only an hour from where I live now.  I don’t think his career will last long enough though if he can only play the one part though.  I have seen him before on Bored to Death and he is really good in that but if he can’t branch out with different roles in movies his career will only be a flash in the pan.  As Marty Huggins, Galifianakis played his typical role of the very weird guy but it worked in this one because it was so funny to see them try to transform him into a political candidate.  His accent is great in this one but it should come easy to him being he is from North Carolina.

I really liked seeing Dan Akroyd and John Lithgow as the big business brothers in this movie.  They fit the roles nicely and I like seeing Akroyd in anything these days because he isn’t doing too much anymore.  I have always been a big fan of Lithgow and think that he can only make any movie he is in better.  I am becoming a huge fan of Jason Sudeikis, everything I see him in seems funnier than the last. SNL has a great cast right now with really funny people like Bill Hader, Taran Killam, and Jay Pharoah but Sudeikis is funnier than all of them as far as I am concerned.  I really look forward to what is to come from his career as he continues to gain more popularity.  I also thought Dylan McDermott was really good as the ultra cool campaign manager that shows up to “make you not suck.” I don’t usually like McDermott but really enjoyed his performance in this one.

This movie says a lot about politics in this country.  About the big businesses behind the candidates running for office and how they use those candidates to achieve their own goals.  About how campaigns manipulate the public to get into office and will absolutely do whatever it takes.  It’s about how dirty politics can be in general and the cut throat world these people live in.   While the movie may cover all these things in humorous fashion there is one thing to keep in mind while watching this movie….a lot of truth is said in jest.  I think this movie not only does a great job mocking the whole thing but it isn’t really off base with the truth behind it all.

I always love a movie that catches me by surprise and this one did.  I did not expect to like it at all and ended up loving it.  I think that any time a movie can do that then it is worth your time to see it.  This movie may have seemed funnier to me when we watched it during the election season but I enjoyed it just as much watching it again after getting a copy for Christmas.  This movie is a bit vulgar so take the R rating seriously but if you get an opportunity to see it you should check it out, it is worth your time.

Cliffhanger

Year: 1993
Directed By: Renny Harlin
Written By: This movie started out as “Gale Force” (Die Hard in a hurricane), it went through several re-writes.

RYAN’S REVIEW

I grew up in a family that had a thing for cheesy action movies.  Movies like this were our bread and butter, what we sat up watching on Friday nights before we were old enough to drive and go out on our own.  I have to admit I have a special place in my heart for movies in the “Die Hard-genre,” for the simplicity of them.  When the terrorists are just white guys who want money, with no racial or political motives.  You don’t have to be Jack Bauer to handle these terrorist, simple police training a la John McClane will suffice, or in the case of this movie simply being a rescue worker with muscles coming out of your ass will do.

I am a Stallone fan no matter how ridiculous some of his movies are. I do think it’s time for him to hang it up though.  His time has come and gone, it is time for him to move into a different phase of his career.  This movie is one of my favorite of his actually, I really like the “Die Hard scenario” in this setting.  Stallone is an interesting person because he has had to overcome so much to be successful with his face paralysis. During his birth a doctor improperly used a pair of tongs to pull him from the birth canal and incedently paralyzed part of his face, including the insides of his mouth.  In the beginning of his career he specifically wrote the first Rocky with little dialogue to mask his difficulty speaking.  What I really find interesting about him is how he can literally do the exact same thing over and over again on multiple platforms and continue to be successful.  He made Rocky 6 F-ing times and Rambo 4 for crying out loud, and people are still paying to see it. He has gotten old though, as unfortunate as that is, and he needs to stop trying to turn the clock back by juicing.  He was caught with roids a few years ago when shooting Rocky Balboa. Stallone was great in his hey day, but it’s time for him to admit to himself that that time is over.

The bad guy was originally going to be played by Christopher Walken which would have been awesome but he bailed at the last-minute.  I am a huge Christopher Walken fan and I have to think that it would have made for a better movie.  I am also a big John Lithgow fan though, and think that he was awesome as the bad guy in the movie.  Walken may have been a little better, but that’s not to discredit Lithgow’s performance because Lithgow is always good.  He is incredibly versatile.  He was so funny and silly on 3rd Rock From the Sun yet so ruthless and cold as the villain in this movie. There is only one reason I think Walken might have been better, and if you want to know what it is check this out.

Michael Rooker plays the other leading part in the film and I have always been a fan of his as well.  I did not like his most recent performance on The Walking Dead, but I enjoyed several of the movies he was in earlier in his career.  Renny Harlin directed the movie and I have liked many of his movies as well. He is never going to be considered a really serious filmmaker but he has made some great action movies. Like I said though, I come from a household where we spent a lot of time on stupid and mindless action movies.  We owned nearly every variety of the “Die Hard Genre.”

In the aftermath of Die Hard many movies were made with the exact same formula.  A group of white terrorist hijack something in an effort to extort lots of money in a variety of settings.  Let me provide some examples….there’s Steven Seagal vs. the white guy terrorists Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey in Die Hard  on a Boat (Under Siege), Christian Slater vs. white guy terrorists John Travolta  and Howie Long in Die Hard in the Desert (Broken Arrow), Nicholas Cage vs. white guy terrorist John Malkovich in Die Hard on a Prison Plane (Con Air), Harrison Ford vs. white guy terrorist Gary Oldman in Die Hard with the President, on a Plane (Air Force One), even Howie Long had his own Die Hard in the Woods (Firestorm),  and this one of course, Die Hard in the Mountains.  There are probably several I am forgetting, there was one with Van Damme in a hockey arena, ah I could name them off forever if I try.  These movies are all simple, there is nothing to learn from any of them, but sometimes it’s good to just sit back and relax.  These movies come in handy then.

I love this movie and still enjoy watching it, but I don’t know that I can tell just anybody that it is worth their time. It does hold a certain sentimental element for me because when I was a kid playing with G I Joes it was this scenario I always acted out.  My favorite Joe would be the one who had to defeat all the others one by one and all the “Die Hard” movies influenced how the action played out.  This one was a popular one because I could have them climbing of the furniture. So, as I was saying, I can’t say this is worth your time,  but if you give it a chance I think you I will like it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I might have written a real review for this movie. Maybe it could have been the best review I have written so far. But, that isn’t going to be the case here. The night that we watched this movie was the night that The Help came out on onDemand. I had spent all day trying to figure out how to get Ryan to watch it with me. I read the book and missed it in the theaters, so I have been patiently waiting for the DVD release date. Well, after much debate and arguing I guess you already know who won. Instead of getting to watch an uplifting movie about race relations, I was forced to watch Sylvester Stallone try to save a woman who ultimately plummeted to her death. And the whole time I sat there sulking, and thinking about how awesome Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls was for making fun of it.

I can’t say if I love it or hate it, because even though I watched it, I wasn’t really paying attention to it, because I was so mad that Ryan won and his pregnant wife didn’t get to watch the movie she had desperately been wanting to watch since finishing the book.

For the record, I still haven’t seen The Help. (I still love him, but don’t you think he owes me?)

 NEXT MOVIE: Closer (2004)