Things have not gone well for humanity since James Franco decided to help a chimpanzee get better at puzzles. In the new trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, hitting theaters July 11 — three years after the surprising success of Rupert Wyatt's Rise (which, logistically, really seems like it should follow "Dawn") of the Planet of the Apes — we see that mankind has dwindled to to the likes of Jason Clarke (ape-friendly), Gary Oldman (anti-ape), a couple of dunderheaded drunks who still don't seem to have understand that apes are smart now, and a campfire resident who prophecizes about how apes have the upper hand — opposable thumbs and all — in that they don't need fancy things like electricity or heat.
20th Century Fox
But apes don't want war, so insists Caesar, Andy Serkis' top banana chimp who led the '11 picture and incited a revolution with the simple act of cookieing Rocket (and oh what a mistake that seems to have been... like Franco-father, like monkey-son). Caesar wants to live in harmony with the few remaining humans, but his fur-laden brethren don't seem to be on the same page.
Meanwhile, we can only assume that somewhere in the mix, a kindly, well-educated bonobo is developing a serum to boost the intellectual capacity of the horses that the apes have been using as transport, thus leading to a follow-up series in which horse trounces primate-kind.
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Even without having read Mark Helprin's novel Winter's Tale, I have the unshakable feeling that Akiva Goldsman's film adaptation does not do the story justice. Speckled throughout the moreover colorless movie are hints of an intriguing idea — a fantasy epic about an angel-demon bureaucracy coexisting with the human race throughout the span of 20th century New York City, operating within the parameters of a didactic miracle-granting system — an idea that doesn't come close to its full potential. In 118 minutes, we barely scratch the surface of the world in which an apparently immortal Colin Farrell finds himself. We see him cavort with Russell Crowe, a malicious gang-leader with netherworld origins, seek guidance from a mystical Pegasus, and carry out his destiny as the savior to a mysterious red-haired girl. But we never truly understand why any of this is happening. Not that it gets particularly confusing; on a plot level, it's all quite simple. But that's the problem — it shouldn't be.
The central conceit of the film is that everyone is put on this Earth with a divine "mission" to uphold. Farrell's gives us the narrative of Winter's Tale, introducing the various rules and officers of the supernatural regime along the way. Abandoned as a baby and brought up under the criminal regime of a Manhattanite from Hell (Crowe), Farrell ascends from orphan to petty thief to horse whispering renegade to whimsical lover of a dying Jessica Brown Findlay to ageless messiah... all without much clarity on the nature of the story (or stories) he's occupying, save for two ham-fisted scenes of exposition — one with Graham Greene (not the dead author) and one with Jennifer Connelly, who shows up halfway through the movie for some reason.
Warner Bros Pictures via Everett Collection
The world that Farrell is woven into has so many bright spots: we're on board for miracle quests, a magic-laden New York City, flying horses, and one of the biggest stars in Hollywood giving a cameo as the epitome of evil. Everything we see is fun, but it all flutters away as quickly as it arrives. We don't want quick bites of the way angels and demons do business with one another on the streets of Manhattan, we want the whole meal. A more thorough exploration of Helprin's world wouldn't just be doubly as interesting as the thin alternative we're offered in Goldsman's adaptation, it'd also fill in all the comprehensive gaps in Farrell's emotional throughline
We don't really understand so much of what happens to Farrell. Even when we're offered tangible explanations, we have no reason to understand why the Winter's Tale world works in such a way that Farrell might survive a 300-foot fall, develop amnesia, or sustain youth for a full century. What's more, we don't understand why Farrell's tale as a cog in this mystical machine is any more important than anyone else's. Or, if it's not, and we're simply asked to watch him carry out his quest as a glimpse into the vast, enigmatic system that Winter's Tale is ostensibly founded upon, we ... we don't understand enough of that world itself.
Warner Bros Pictures via Everett Collection
We're never invited close enough to any of the movie's attractive features for them to matter. So even when the movie does offer entertaining bits — in its fantastical elements, its detail of New Yorks old and new, or Farrell's admittedly charming romance with Findlay — we're not engaged enough to really connect with any of them.
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Still, the flying horse is pretty cool.
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Actor Mark Wahlberg is set to replace Leonardo DiCaprio in a remake of the 1974 James Caan movie The Gambler, according to U.S. reports. The Titanic star was first attached to the lead role in 2011, with his frequent collaborator Martin Scorsese tapped to direct, but The Hangover filmmaker Todd Phillips took over the project a year later (12), with no mention of DiCaprio's involvement.
Now Deadline.com editors claim Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt will helm the remake, with Wahlberg stepping into Caan's shoes to portray the main character.
The original version of The Gambler, which also starred Lauren Hutton and Paul Sorvino, was about a college professor with a gambling addiction who falls foul of a mob of gangsters.
There might be concern that the developing followup to Rise of the Planet of the Apes will fall short of Summer 2011's surprise hit. Director Rupert Wyatt was on board to helm the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, until recently — as he is wont to do, our Movies Editor Matt Patches assembled a collection of potentials worthy of usurping Wyatt's directorial position. Now, The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Matt Reeves is taking the reigns on Dawn.
Reeves is most famously responsible for the frequently-discussed (with varying degrees of reverence) science-fiction/horror movie Cloverfield, and the 2010 horror-drama Let Me In. Reeves also co-created and wrote for the cult classic television drama Felicity, exhibiting a skill beyond the horror genre to which his film career of late has stuck. Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes certainly traverses into the motifs of sci-fi and horror, but is more than anything else a dramatic story about central ape Caesar.
Hopefully, Reeves can instill Dawn with the same vivacious character and depth that we found in Rise — so long as the same mind is paid to developing the story of the focal characters, rather than opting for impressive high-stakes adventure thrills, then we could be in for a worthy sequel.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the big surprises of the 2011 summer season, a franchise reboot that was both creatively refreshing and lucrative for Fox, who produced the film. The blockbuster made a name for director Rupert Wyatt, whose previously films barely saw U.S. releases. Wyatt became hot property in Hollywood — perhaps too hot. Last week, he reportedly left his role as director of the proposed sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
With Rise being such a success, Dawn is a top priority for Fox, with a May 23, 2014 release date already set. Now the hunt is on for a replacement, and Deadline has learned who is contention for the massive task.
Cloverfield and Let Me In director Matt Reeves is reportedly at the top of the list. A J.J. Abrams confidant, Reeves has been attached to direct a big screen Twilight Zone movie (although rumors are circling that since the announcement, he's left the project, making him free for Rise). He's demonstrated wizardry with special effects and, like Wyatt, his work on smaller scale dramas like Let Me In shows off a side that can handle the surprising amour of drama now established in the Apes series.
The rest of the list is an interesting mix of fresh faces and known talent:
J Blakeson doesn't have too many credits to his name, but his stylish thriller The Disappearance Of Alice Creed impressed a lot of folks. Like Wyatt, he's untested, but perhaps sports a vision that sounds convincing to investors of this massive blockbuster.
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo's career has been relatively quiet since he defied expectations and crafted an excellent sequel with 28 Weeks Later. His Clive Owen horror flick Intruders barely opened last year, but this wouldn't be the first big budget project he's become attached to. Fresnadillo previously developed a film based on the popular video game Bioshock that fell apart when the R-rated tone didn't pair with the budget. He's also connected to a remake of Highlander, although if he nabs the Dawn gig, the tentpole's release date may take precedence.
One of the bigger surprises is Jeff Nichols, who has wowed indie audiences with Sundance winner Take Shelter and the upcoming Mud, which debuted at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. Nichols has dabbled in special effects — Take Shelter featured some astounding apocalyptic imagery — but nothing on the level that Dawn would demand. But he's a character director, and that's exactly what made Rise of the Planet of the Apes so mesmerizing. With the right collaborators, Nichols could emerge as a major Hollywood player.
Guillermo del Toro knows big budget filmmaking. He's previously helmed both entries in the Hellboy series, was slated to direct The Hobbit (before some monetary shuffling left him anxious to move on), and he has the mind-blowing Robots vs. Monsters picture Pacific Rim in the can for Summer 2013. Del Toro could handle Dawn's demands — thing is, why would he? With so much on his plate and a brain overflowing with creative ideas, there isn't much of a reason for Del Toro to pick up someone else's franchise.
When I saw Juan Antonio Bayona's The Impossible at the Toronto Film Festival, I knew we had our next Spielbergian filmmaker. Bayona's first film The Orphanage (produced by fellow shortlister Guillermo del Toro) was moody horror movie that transcended most modern ghost stories. The Impossible solidified him as one to watch, the film balancing impressive special effects work with a riveting human story that never backs down. He would make a daring choice for Fox.
Deadline notes that Rian Johnson's reps deny that he's pursuing the job, but that doesn't mean Fox isn't looking into him as an option. Whether his new film Looper will be a financial success, it works on a storytelling level, incorporating heady sci-fi ideas into a slick action movie. With Looper, Brothers Bloom, and Brick, Johnson has dedicated himself to telling stories that are personal and crafted from his own imagination. Unless he needs the cred, he may be in the same position as Del Toro.
So I leave it up to you: who should direct Rise of the Planet of the Apes?
Who Should Direct 'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'?
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[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
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Almost exactly four months after sequels for X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were confirmed, they each get a release date: The former will hit theaters on July 18, 2014, while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is due May 23, 2014.
Both movies were huge hits for 20th Century Fox last summer, earning the studio more than $800 million combined at the worldwide box office. So it is no surprise that sequels to both were greenlit pretty quickly. As of now, it appears that both of the films' directors, X-Men's Matthew Vaughn and Planet of the Apes' Rupert Wyatt, will reprise their respective behind-the-camera roles on the follow-ups.
Meanwhile, it was just announced — although certainly inevitable all along — that the Will Smith star-maker Independence Day will be rereleased in 3D on on July 3, 2013, 17 years to the day after ID4 (alien-)invaded theaters. It was previously reported that two sequels to the movie were in the works as well, so maybe the studio will wait to gauge interest in the 3D version before starting work in earnest on new installments.
Finally, and much less exciting by comparison, Steven Spielberg's highly anticipated sci-fi/drama/actioner Robopocalypse has been pushed back from the aforementioned Independence Day rerelease date of July 3, 2013 (possibly because of that news) to April 25, 2014. Does that mean that in the not-so-distant future, summer will start in April?! Disney also shifted the Johnny Depp-starring Lone Ranger from May 2013 to July 4, 2013.
And if you think that's the end of the shuffling, think again — as demonstrated this summer by G.I. Joe: Retaliation, no movie is safe until it actually hits theaters!
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Fox is busy working on some big film followups to 2011 hits: specifically, X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
The X-Men film to follow First Class is being assigned several behind the scenes players. Director Matthew Vaughn (First Class) is reported to be returning for this new series installment, as is producer Bryan Singer. The script responsibilities to screenwriter Simon Kinberg, who wrote X-Men: The Last Stand. The First Class cast, which included James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, is also expected to return for the next feature.
The ending of Rise of the Planet of the Apes always suggested a sequel, but some rumors suggested that one might not occur, or that director Rupert Wyatt might not return for a second Apes film. But Fox reports that Wyatt is indeed directing a followup to his Caesarian hit.
All good news on the Fox frontier. Mutant people. Mutant apes. Rises and falls. Firsts and lasts. A whole lot of big screen excitement.
One of the surprise hits of Summer 2011 Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a sci-fi thriller out of place in a season full of superheroes sequels and animated movies. Though its CGI and state-of-the-art motion capture technology is what drove the masses to the theaters the sociological message at the film’s core is what made it such a unique blockbuster. That and Andy Serkis of course. The former (and future) Lord of the Rings star takes on the role of Caesar in the big-budget prequel to the classic franchise and is without a doubt the greatest special effect the film boasts. His performance evokes more emotion than any of the other actors were able to deliver and the digital character he helps create is one of the true cinematic marvels of the year. Lucky for me (and all fans of the film) Fox’s home entertainment release of Apes is an in-depth look at how it was made as well as an ode to the original series.
Before I tell you all about the great special features the Blu-ray contains I must first make mention of how incredible the HD transfer of the film is. The 1080p picture enhances the aesthetic of the Apes and the natural environments featured in the movie ten-fold; this is perhaps the first time that I preferred a home-viewing instead of a theater screening. And don’t even get me started on the sound: with a decent 5.1 surround sound system you’ll be able to hear the Apes in a virtual three-dimensional setting as they make their way from tree to tree and roof to roof. It’s a world that you’ll be happy to be immersed in and the bonus content will take you even further inside.
The deleted scenes don’t just add to the story they inform the viewer of the genius of Andy Serkis as most feature the performer’s raw unfinished footage as Caesar. These clips show you how his movements and facial expressions would eventually translate to the final cut and it’s incredibly fascinating to behold. A perfect complement to these scenes then is a featurette entitled “The Genius of Andy Serkis” in which his co-stars producers and director gloat about his superpowers. For the longtime Apes follower another extra “Mythology of the Apes” finds the filmmakers discussing the legacy of the Charlton Heston movies at length including how older plot points informed the prequel. With “A New Generation of Apes” the WETA visual effects team dishes on the challenge of bringing an army of Apes to the big screen while “Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries” expands on it with on-set footage that shows you the equipment used to make the monkeys and doubles as a stunt display that breaks down the gripping Golden Gate bridge sequence at the climax of the movie.
The musically inclined audience will love another featurette that finds composer Patrick Doyle discussing the thought-process behind the beautiful score of the film. It’s an enlightening piece of content as I find it most interesting to hear why certain harmonic choices were made at pivotal points in the picture. All too often a movie’s non-pop soundtrack doesn’t get the attention it deserves so it’s nice to see the Fox was willing to give this incredibly talented department its due on the disc. Additional features include “The Great Apes” a documentary that shows you how various primates live in today’s world a concept art gallery trailers sneak peaks and two separate commentary tracks one with director Rupert Wyatt and another with writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver which are both worth tuning in to.
I’m often disappointed with the lack of bonus content available to consumers on Blu-ray discs but Fox Home Entertainment treated this release with utmost care and consideration so my advice is to add Rise of the Planet of the Apes to the stockings of the movie fan in your home this season.
Michael Fassbender is the guy to bet on these days.
Not only does he have a name that sounds remarkably like "Fast-Bender" (which really means nothing, but sounds like it could very well mean something awesome), he's also very good at that acting thing he's been up to of late. The latest news around the fast bend is the development of a biopic about Russian secret agent Alexander Litvinenko. The spy served for the Soviet KGB and its successor, the FSB, until his arrest in 1998. The story of the film will follow the later days of Litvinenko's life, after he was fatally poisoned in 2006 by an exposure to polonium radiation.
Fassbender is being reached to play Litvinenko, who, while on bedrest in London, publicized the statement that it was Vladimir Putin, then-president of Russia, who intentionally poisoned him. Warner Bros., the studio producing the film, is reaching for Rupert Wyatt, the celebrated director of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, to take charge behind the camera.
The Fast-Bender and the Ape-Riser... Ape-Riser is a terrible nickname; I apologize, Mr. Wyatt. The Fast-Bender and the Caesar-Homer (there it is). Could this duo-on-the-rise pull together and delivier an intriguing, terrifying and heartbreaking story? Instill sympathy into a Soviet spy, and strength into a dying man? If anyone can do it... it's the Fast-Bender and the Rocket-Cookier (there it is).