The Dallas Movie Screening Group

This is the homepage of the Dallas Movie Screening Group. To join our mailing list you must sign up at our group page on Yahoo. You will then be connected to receive notices on how to find passes to the local screenings in the DFW area. It's up to you to pickup or sign up for passes. You can also barter, trade or just giveaway passes you don't want, need or share with other members of the group. Please read the instructions on the Yahoo page very carefully before posting. This group is closely moderated so that your mail box is not full of spam or other unnecessary mail. We appreciate everyone's consideration and cooperation.

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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The 1968 cult film Planet of the Apes was legendary because of Charlton Heston's he-man loin cloth wearing presence and Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter wearing heavy prosthetic makeup as intelligent apes. The final scene of him yelling “damn you all to hell” at the sight of flame from the Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand was a classic. The 4 subsequent films and 2 TV shows never fulfilled the promise of the franchise. Tim Burton's re-imagined version with Mark Whalberg was fun to look at but not much else. Enter director Rupert Wyatt and screenwriters Rick Jaff and Amanda Silver to create an origin story that helps explain what happened to humanity before the apes took over the world.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is researcher trying to find a cure to Alzheimer that will help his increasingly sick father Charles (John Lithgow). His experiments on a chimp which they call Bright Eyes because of the green the drug changes in the iris's seems promising to the point where Will wants to start human trials. When they present their findings to the investors Bright Eyes gets hostile when they try to get her out of her enclosure. With her heightened intelligence she escapes and wrecks havoc resulting in the head of the company Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) who only sees the bottom line to order the rest of the animals destroyed because they must be contaminated. Will's research is put on hold. Franklin (Tyler Labine) finds a baby chimp in Bright Eyes's enclosure. He begs to Will to take him home even though he's not too happy about it. The chimp must have been born after Bright Eyes started her drug treatments. The baby simian Caesar is exhibiting signs of increased inherited intelligence. As he grows older Caesar's (Andy Serkis) wild nature battles his growing cognitive abilities and he gets in trouble. Like in Project Nim Chimpsky Caesar is sent away from his human family to live in a cage at a simian rescue shelter. For the first time he's meeting others of his kind and he must adjust to the hierarchy of being the new kid on the block. He also learns that not all humans are like his “father” and animal vet girlfriend Caroline (Freida Pinto). For some reason there's the overused device of having an animal attendant that doesn't like animals to prod and tease the critters into rebellion. Having this done by the bad boy from the Harry Potter movies, Tom Felton, will hopefully not typecast him as one for the rest of his career.

WETA's contribution to the CGI apes is nothing short of amazing. Today's digital technology is in another dimension of time and space compared to the original film or anywhere else at the moment. Heston's gruff American hero has been replaced with the sensitive and caring researcher that reinforces the cautionary tale of inhumane treatment of animals for the sake of science. This could have just been another blow stuff up kind of movie, but they have incorporated Caesar with a sense of right and wrong that he has learned from the loving upbringing of his human parent. Serkis is able to give Caesar's face a human quality without losing the his ape-ness. Wyatt even manages to sneak a few references to the cinematic past by incorporating the line "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!". There's also a scene where the Planet of the Apes is playing on the TV. The final act is exciting and thought provoking plus there's lots of little subplots going on that scream sequel. You will go ape for this summer blockbuster.
(Review by reesa)

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