Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow
Written by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Directed by Rupert Wyatt
I can say with all confidence that this will be better than the appallingly bad 2001 reboot with Mark Wahlberg, but we can’t always set the bar that low. Like the Star Wars prequels, this film answers a question no one asked. The effects by WETA (Avatar, King Kong) will impress, but it will likely do so at the expense of storytelling. That may be OK if you only want to see apes, chimps and other monkeys destroy major cities. It’s a rebellion led by Caesar (Andy Serkis, in motion-capture) because A) animal testing is bad, B) slavery is bad, or C) humans are selfish parasites. Or perhaps some other vague reason. Listen, if you’re going to answer a question no one asked, at least do it definitively.
Starring Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Leslie Mann
Written by Jon Lucas & Scott Moore
Directed by David Dobkin
Like The Hangover, Part II, The Change-Up seems content to only up its raunch factor and forget to up the number of jokes as well. It’s being touted as “From the Director of Wedding Crashers and the Writers of The Hangover,” two fluke R-rated comedy hits. Separately, these are also the guys who brought you (thank God they didn’t use that phrase) Fred Claus and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Not so excited now, are you? Here, Bateman is a successful lawyer with a beautiful, loving wife (Mann) and three kids. Yet he metaphorically and literally gets shat upon while Reynolds is a carefree playboy with a different sexy lady in his bed each night. Through an incredibly stupid turn of events, the two wake up in each other’s bodies. Again?! In interviews, both Bateman and Reynolds mentioned how excited they were to “explore the dark side of the body-swap comedy.” But that pretty much just leads to only one question: Will Reynolds-as-Bateman nail Bateman’s hot wife? And if that’s as far as they’re willing to go with the premise, then this is far as you should go with the movie. Stay away.
The Devil’s Double
Starring Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Philip Quast
Written for the screen by Michael Thomas
Directed by Lee Tamahori
I feel the “inspired-by-true-events” saga of a man abducted and forced to act as Uday Hussein’s double is a little bit beyond the reach of the director of the utterly preposterous Die Another Day and other assorted forgettable films. Still, the film–which some have described as “the Iraqi Scarface” but looks to me to have many shades of Miller’s Crossing–looks compelling and relentless. Some time with this devil might be satisfying.
PLAYING AT BOTH ANGELIKAS
Starring Brit Marling, William Mapother, Matthew-Lee Erlbach
Written by Brit Marling, Mike Cahill
Directed by Mike Cahill
A movie that could go either way. If successful, it could be like Gattaca: a movie that uses science fiction as a springboard for a devastatingly honest portrayal of disappointment and tenacity. Or it could be like dozens of other Sundance raves: simultaneously too talky and boring, with lots of gorgeous shots of the sky above or a wheat field or something. Here, Marling, who’s thisclose to becoming a major star, plays a woman who hopes to be selected to go on a private flight to Earth 2 as a way to escape the mess she made of her life on this Earth. I’m hoping for the former.
PLAYING AT BOTH ANGELIKAS
Also opening: The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll (Angelika Dallas), General Orders No. 9, Viva Riva (both at the Texas Theatre)
Blu-ray: Better Off Dead, The Magnificent Seven, The Final Destination 3-D, Sleepers
TV: Eastbound & Down (Season 2)*, United States of Tara (Season 3)