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Even more impressive than what Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has to say is how it goes about saying it. But what's the most impressive of all is the fact that the movie is having its conversation in the first place. The fact that a science-fiction blockbuster plopped right in the heat of a Marvel Comics- and Michael Bay-stocked summer, composed of computer generated super-apes and post-apocalyptic San Franciscos, is speaking unabashedly about the futility of war, the corrosivity of guns, the corruptibility of man (and ape), and the intense fallibility of any singular ideology.
So astounding is it that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is delivering these principles that you'll watch with the constant apprehension of a thematic undercut — that a movie like this couldn't possibly carry forth with its desolation of the cells that constitute its summer picture brethren's lifeblood. But the film stays true, never for a moment working to glorify its illustration of violence and hate. Dawn has a lot of ugly things to show us about its world and our own, and it pulls no punches in its presentation.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
That's not to say the movie is at all a chore to watch. Though its mission may be grim, Dawn drives us through a story about the impending war between hyper-intelligent simians and what's left of mankind with an effervescent pulse and rich character. On one side, we have Caesar (mo-capped Andy Serkis) struggling to maintain a just and orderly society of his ape brethren in a swanky little set-up in the woods, hoping principally for communal isolation. On the other, Gary Oldman strives for the very same harmony with his slum of Simian Flu-resistant humans, eyeing the power plant on the apes' turf as the source of a basic human necessity. Neither side wants war, and yet neither side is incapable of seeing the other as a threat to what it wants and needs.
We delight in our time in Ape Kingdom, finding a special fascination in watching Caesar play father to his eldest son Blue Eyes (who endures his own coming-of-age crisis of faith), in clever orangutan Maurice pioneering primate academia, and in battered chimp Koba fostering that Macchiavellian drive the old world knew too well. When the story slips into the inevitable nightmare that spawns between two parties, we have as vivid an idea of who's fighting who as any adventure, sci-fi, or war film has given us in recent years.
20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
So who do we root for? That's just one of the many blockbuster conventions that Dawn not only avoids but abjectly annihilates. This isn't a story about good versus bad, right versus wrong, or even man versus ape. This is a story where the act is the enemy. Where war, guns, and hate are the criminal, where trust and love are the unfortunate victim. Dawn is outstandingly impressive in its delivery of these ideas: in the construction of a race of post-human apes, its coloring of archetypal characters (like top billing human Jason Clarke and a simple but substantial Keri Russell) as fluorescent, and its unique understanding and adherence to its message's gravity. But, to reiterate, what's even more unique, outstanding, and impressive is the fact that a movie like this is saying these things at all.
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20th Century Fox Film via Everett Collection
There are many actors who routinely give wonderful, memorable performances, but there's only one who manages to do it even when his face doesn't appear onscreen. That man is Andy Serkis, Hollywood's foremost motion capture actor, the rare talent that can bring just as much life to a Tolkien creature or a hyper-intelligent ape as he can another human being. Since the first installment of the Lord of the Rings trilogy hit theaters in 2001, Serkis has been the movie industry's go-to guy for animating everything from monkeys to sailors to Gollums, and his consistently excellent performances each time kicked off a campaign to have motion capture work recognized by the Academy Awards. With Serkis set to return to the big screen (in simian form) as Caesar in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes on Friday, we've decided to take a look at some of the actor's most memorably mo-cap characters in order to determine which one comes out on top in the great battle for supremacy.
Caesar Films: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Species: Chimpanzee Trademarks: Being an incredibly intelligent ape Special Skills: High intelligence, the ability to speak, the wisdom and power to rule over a colony of apes, proficiency in horse-riding and shooting Allies: James Franco and Frieda Pinto in Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Jason Clarke and Keri Russell in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Enemies: Draco Malfoy and Commissioner GordonGreatest Dream: A world where apes and humans can live in peace, minus cagesSecret Weapon: He’s a hyper-intelligent ape that can speak to people; he doesn’t need a secret weaponSignature Move: A barrage of fists to the head
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Captain Haddock Film: The Adventures of Tintin Species: Human Trademarks: Beard, pipe, captain’s hat, permanently grumpy expression Special Skills: A talent for holding his liquor, a colorful vocabulary, a gift for sarcasm and wisecracks, the ability to tune out chaos and revel in blissful ignorance, unfailing loyalty Allies: Tintin and Snowy Enemies: Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine Greatest Dream: To regain command of his ship, but more immediately, some more rum Secret Weapon: He’s at his best when he’s drunk, which is the polar opposite of every other person everSignature Move: He’s more of a trash-talker than a proper fighter
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
King Kong Film: Kingof course Species: Gorilla Trademarks: He’s a 25-foot-tall gorilla. That’s pretty unique. Special Skills: incredible strength, a sense of self-preservation, the ability to make audiences sympathize and even shed a tear over a monstrous simian Allies: Ann Darrow, with whom he falls in love, and Lumpy the Cook, who tells the crew to leave King Kong alone (or else)Enemies: Carl Denham, fighter planes Greatest Dream: To live happily in his jungle with Ann Secret Weapon: The willingness to sacrifice himself for the people he loves and an incredible resistance to tranquilizers (seriously, it took them forever to knock him out) Signature Move: A giant, sweeping side-swipe and roar combination
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Gollum Films: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogiesSpecies: Technically, he was once a Hobbit, but now he’s mostly a species unto himselfTrademarks: Hunched, bony body, six teeth, a lack of hair, that weird snarling noise he always makes Special Skills: Riddle solving, hunting and fishing, deboning fish, finding ways to amuse himself after spending centuries in the same cave Allies: Whichever part of himself he’s currently talking to Enemies: Anyone who wants the precious... and whichever part of himself he’s currently talking to Greatest Dream: To once again possess the precious so that they may live together in his cave until the end of their days Secret Weapon: He’ll lure you in by appearing nice, and then turn out to be straight up terrifying; also, he’s so mentally unstable and unpredictable, only half of him knows what he’s going to do at any given momentSignature Move: Gollum’s totally a biter
So Who Wins? Captain Haddock is generally too drunk to get involved in a fight, so he’s out, as is King Kong, unless his life or Ann’s life is being threatened. That leaves Caesar and Gollum left to fight it out. While Caesar is smarter and more likely to have both a carefully, thought-out strategy and an army on call, Gollum is just insane and unpredictable enough to take Caesar out. We’re going to have to go with the creature formerly known as Smeagol on this one.
Getty Images/George Pimentel
If you've ever seen the movie American Hustle, you should already know that Amy Adams is pretty much the best. We now have more proof of this fact.
The actress was preparing to board a flight back to Los Angeles from Detroit when she did something few celebrities are willing to do. She reportedly gave up her first class seat on the plane to a soldier who she noticed sitting at her gate. Adams swapped with him, and sat in coach for the duration of the flight. Although she didn't do it for the attention, we can't help but applaud this random act of kindness.
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Veteran rocker Sting took to the stage to sing with the cast on the opening night of his new musical The Last Ship in Chicago, Illinois. The Police star's show opened at the city's Bank of America Theatre on Wednesday (25Jun14) ahead of its planned Broadway debut in October (14), and the rocker was in the audience with his wife Trudie Styler.
At the end of the performance, Sting took to the stage for the curtain call and led the cast in a song, according to New York Post gossip column Page Six.
Other stars who turned out for the musical's opening included Paul Simon, James Taylor, Styx singer Dennis DeYoung and AC/DC's Brian Johnson.
The show received mixed reviews from critics, who questioned whether the production, set in a doomed shipyard in Sting's hometown in the north of England, could draw in audiences on Broadway.
Steven Oxman of variety writes, "Do you want to live for two-and-a-half hours in a beautifully sad song?... The show currently works as a collection of songs in search of a complete story, or perhaps as a concept album - filled with mood and emotion and character and sensibility, but swaying as it takes on specifics. What seems to be missing is a driving conflict."
The Chicago Tribune's Chris Jones adds, "(Many) scenes... still have the air of a semi-staged concept album... The Last Ship already is a worthy and earnest musical, but we know how Broadway loves to take those down. Just look at last season."
Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Business Journal concludes, "Most of the theatre crowds in the early going at least will probably have come to hear Sting's music for the show. Fans of his work may find that much of it sounds familiar and pleasant to hear performed in a theatrical setting. But hardcore theatre buffs will soon realise Sting's style of music - for the most part - simply doesn't sit comfortably in a big Broadway musical context."
Publishing tycoon Rupert Murdoch is wanted for questioning by British police as part of an inquiry into alleged criminal activity at his newspapers. The news comes after Murdoch's former News of the World editor Andy Coulson was found guilty on a charge of conspiracy to intercept communications at the Old Bailey in London on Tuesday (24Jun14).
Rebekah Brooks, the ex-News International chief executive and former editor of Murdoch's British newspapers The Sun and the News of the World, was cleared of all charges relating to the sensational phone-hacking trial.
According to reports, Murdoch was contacted by officers at Scotland Yard last year (13) but they agreed to his lawyer's request to wait until the trial was over to quiz the media mogul.
He is expected to be questioned "under caution" as part of their probe into alleged criminal activities at his British newspapers, and his son James, who was executive chairman of News International in the U.K., may also be interviewed.
In 2011, Murdoch and his son attended a British Parliament inquiry into the phone-hacking scandal, during which the tycoon was attacked by an interloper wielding a cream pie.
Stars including Hugh Grant, Jude Law, Sienna Miller and Steve Coogan were among the high-profile victims of the News of the World's hacking scandal. The publication was closed by Murdoch in 2011.
A jury is still deliberating further charges against Coulson, who denies allegations of conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.
Theatre mogul Stephen Sondheim has blamed "misreporting" for sending fans of his hit musical Into The Woods into a spin after he was quoted suggesting the upcoming Disney film adaptation had been drastically altered from the original storyline. The acclaimed composer and lyricist had been speaking to a group of high school drama teachers as part of a Master Class event about censorship in schools earlier this month (Jun14), when he allegedly revealed the Into the Woods film would no longer feature the popular song Any Moment, which is performed by Cinderella's Prince, played by Chris Pine.
During the chat, he also reportedly claimed Disney executives had warned him not to kill off Mackenzie Mauzy's character Rapunzel, and was quoted in The New Yorker as saying, "We replotted it. I won't tell you what happens, but we wrote a new song to cover it."
His revelations shocked devotees of the critically-acclaimed stage show and sparked a furious debate online, but now Sondheim has reached out to fans to clarify his remarks.
In a statement issued on Tuesday (24Jun14), Sondheim accused The New Yorker editors of misquoting him, creating "some false impressions" about the Disney movie adaptation.
He added, "The fact is that James (Lapine, who wrote both the show and the movie) and I worked out every change from stage to screen with the producers and with Rob Marshall, the director. Despite what the New Yorker article may convey, the collaboration was genuinely collaborative and always productive.
"When the conversation with the teachers occurred, I had not yet seen a full rough cut of the movie. Coincidentally, I saw it immediately after leaving the meeting and, having now seen it a couple of times, I can happily report that it is not only a faithful adaptation of the show, it is a first-rate movie.
"And for those who care, as the teachers did, the Prince's dalliance is still in the movie, and so is Any Moment."
The cast of the Into the Woods film version also includes Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Anna Kendrick and James Corden.
Kristen Stewart's attorneys have threatened outspoken comic Joan Rivers with legal action over her description of the actress in her new book.
In Diary of a Mad Diva, the controversial funnywoman brands the Twilight star a "one-trick-pony" before making crude assumptions as to how she became successful in Hollywood.
According to TMZ.com, Stewart's team have demanded Rivers remove the section from the book, or face a possible defamation lawsuit. However, Rivers has laughed off the controversy.
In a video posted on the website, she says, "I'm now being sued by Kristen Stewart. She obviously didn't read our disclaimer, which is it's a comedy book... I can't wait to get her to court... "Her lawyer contacted my lawyer, which shows the sense of humour she has... zero... I'm a comedian. I've been doing it for 50 years. If people don't get it... Don't read the book... If you're going to take it seriously, you're a fool."
Diary of a Mad Diva is due for release next month (Jul14)."
Tracy Morgan's condition has been upgraded to "fair" by doctors following his horrific car crash on 7 June (14).
The former 30 Rock star was left in a critical condition along with his assistant Jeff Millea and fellow comedian Ardie Fuqua after the accident in New Jersey. Comic writer James 'Jimmy Mack' McNair was killed when a truck collided with the group's limo-bus.
Morgan was taken to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, where he has been receiving treatment for injuries including a broken leg, a broken nose and several broken ribs, and a little over a week after the incident, his condition has stabilised.
A statement from his spokesperson reads: "Happy to pass along that Tracy has been upgraded to fair condition, which is a great improvement. His personality is certainly starting to come back as well. "Also, Jeff Millea's family shared that he has been upgraded to fair condition as well."
Truck driver Kevin Roper has been charged with one count of death by auto and four of assault by auto, and pleaded not guilty during an appearance at Middlesex County Superior Court in New Jersey last week (ends15Jun14).
Actress Anna Kendrick is set to show off her vocal skills again in an upcoming animated movie musical based on the popular big-haired toy dolls Trolls.
The Pitch Perfect star will play Poppy, an upbeat princess in DreamWorks Animation's upcoming film. The comedy features the colourful hair dolls that became a popular toy among collectors in the 1960s and again in the 1990s.
Trolls is slated for released in November 2016.
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Tina Fey, Nick Jonas, and Shailene Woodley are all keeping busy on sets this week. Find out exactly what and where they're filming below:
If you're in downtown Atlanta this week, make sure you look up. Crews have been busy rigging zip lines on rooftops all over downtown, including the top of the Peachtree Center, for the movie Insurgent. On Friday, stuntmen were seen testing the rigs so we can only assume filming will take place this week. The Divergent sequel, which stars Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Kate Winslet, Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, and Ansel Elgort, hits theaters March 20, 2015.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are teaming up again this summer for The Nest. The comedy duo is also back in New York for the movie about two sisters who go home to clean out their childhood bedroom before their parents sell their house. It was also just announced Maya Rudolph has joined the cast making it a true SNL reunion! Today, you can find the ladies are filming off of Mamaroneck Ave in White Plains, N.Y.
Nick Jonas is returning to the small screen this fall for Navy St. The DirecTV series centers on a mixed martial arts gym in Venice, Calif. run by Alvey Henderson (Frank Grillo), whose drug addiction kept him from making it big as a fighter. Jonas plays his youngest son. Navy St. has been filming at the Nelles Correctional Facility in Whittier, Calif. for several weeks. Nelles was also the primary filming location for Kristen Stewart's latest movie, Camp X-Ray.
To find out where else your favorite stars are filming, check out my daily filming locations at OnLocationVacations.com!