Weekend Movies: Summer’s Over, Bring Out the Duds

I usually consider July as the last month of summer blockbusters. While some August films wear the mask of the blockbuster, they almost never live up to or compare with the grandeur of May, June and July’s big releases. This, the first weekend of August, is no exception. While one major rebooting prequel may appear to be a blockbuster, it’s nothing to go bananas for.

By the wording of its exceptionally long-winded title, you would expect ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘ to show how the ‘Planet of the Apes’ chimps came to power. Instead, it merely shows how they came to evolve so quickly. No, they don’t rise to power in this movie. They simply become smart and break free.

‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ falls victim to the same problem nearly every prequel suffers: You know exactly how the story is going to end – the primates are going to end up ruling the world. ‘Rise’ tries to make up for this lack of surprise by basing the story around strong emotional connections, but, in the long run, it’s far too shallow to have any impact. It’s just another forgettable monkey movie.

And don’t believe the rumors of Andy Serkis giving an Oscar-worthy performance. As he’s done before, it’s just another mo-cap Andy Serkis performance.

The other big release of the week, ‘The Change-Up‘, sure doesn’t hold up very well either. The writers of ‘The Hangover’ have talent, but for some reason their ‘Change-Up’ screenplay doesn’t show it. Fifty percent of the comedy stems from truly hilarious character-driven situations, but the other half is more like a bad Adam Sandler flick. For example, the first gag of the film shows diarrhea shooting from a baby’s sphincter into Jason Bateman’s mouth.

It’s as if the writer’s didn’t think they were being funny enough, so they wrote in a bunch of low-brow, lowest-common-denominator gags. In reality, the rest of the comedy is hilarious. Had the movie followed that suit, it would be a sure winner. The terrible fifty percent of the movie is utterly worthless, while the other half is exactly what you’d expect from an R-rated comedy – some good ol’ filthy and crude laughs.

With an extremely low-budget indie look, Sundance selection ‘Bellflower‘ tells the tale of two apocalypse-obsessed friends who prepare for the chaotic fall of the world. When one friend finds a lover and a new set of friends, the other lashes out. But after being dumped, both go off the deep end. Having been compared to ‘Fight Club’ and deemed mix of John Hughes and ‘Mad Max’, I’m sad that I missed this one at Sundance and can’t wait for it to open in my area.

And also opening in limited release is yet other Sundance selection, ‘Gun Hill Road‘. When a man is release from a long stint in prison, he’s shocked to find that his teenage son is in the middle of a transgender transformation. Reviews claim that although it’s highly predictable and has a clichéd storyline, ‘Gun Hill Road’ also has some great acting and directing.

What are you going to see this weekend?

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