In some film circles, it’s fashionable to dump on studio-made pictures as hollow money-makers, devoid of intrinsic artistic merit and existing only to fatten the pockets of corporate executives heading the companies that finance them. This is an extremely uncharitable and patently unfair stance to take, and nobody proves that more amply than Matt Reeves. (Except for maybe Magic Mike XXL, clearly the greatest American studio film of the millennium.) Reeves has been able to carve out his own corner of the studio system, filling it with innovatively staged creature features (Cloverfield), remakes of foreign genre standouts (Let Me In, a rework of Swedish vampire romance Let the Right One In), and most recently, a blockbuster with more smarts and character than the vast majority of features that slink through neighborhood cineplexes (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes).
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Here’s how fast motion-capture technology is evolving: On Rise of the Planet of the Apes, all the motion-capture work had to be completed after principal photography had been completed, but on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, just a few years later, the ape actors shot alongside the human actors on set, even in exterior locations. That’s just one of the facts packed into the latest episode of You Think You Know Movies, which gets into some serious monkey business with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes!
The title of the third film in the rebooted Planet of the Apes franchise has been revealed and it shouldn’t surprise anyone who watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Since the previous film concluded with the stalemate between Caeser’s tribe and the humans of San Francisco bubbling over into bloodshed, it’s only natural that the follow-up would be titled War of the Planet of the Apes.
James Gunn had a very busy 2014 with the release of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ Marvel’s superhero space opera, which went on to become one of the hugest films of the year. But even though Gunn was preoccupied with Marvel business, that didn’t keep him from seeing a lot of great films besides the one he directed, and the director has finally revealed his favorite films of 2014. Unsurprisingly, ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ is one of them.
Rupert Wyatt admits he was at one point attached to direct the sequel, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,’ but he and the studio couldn’t come to an agreement on the story. What was Wyatt’s version of the sequel? Wyatt claims he’s never told anyone before, but, ahead, he reveals what his intentions were for the sequel, including a tie-in with the original 1968 movie.
It wasn’t a great year for critics in movies—see ‘Birdman’ (or ‘Chef’ [or ‘Top Five’ (or ‘Big Eyes’)])—but it was a great year for critics at movies. 2014 offered an tremendous variety of fantastic films: big and small; foreign and domestic; mainstream and indie. To anyone who says the overall quality of movies has declined, I call B.S. There are more good movies now than ever before. If you can’t find one, you’re not looking very hard. Take, for instance, these ten instant classics:
We are living in the franchise-heavy film era, which can sometimes feel exhausting (see: ‘Transformers’) or can sometimes be very enjoyable, depending on the product. In television, having a clear endpoint in mind is a good thing (see: ‘Breaking Bad’); meanwhile, studios are now planning their franchises out years in advance. Again, this can be good (Marvel), or, as our own Matt Singer bemoaned, it leads to what he finds to be an unnecessary splitting of the final chapter to extend the life of a franchise. It’s refreshing, then, to know that some studios are playing things a little looser with their franchises, like hearing Andy Serkis say that he just isn’t sure how many ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies there will be.
‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ is hitting Blu-ray soon, and we've been hearing little teases about the upcoming third film, but let's take a little trip down memory lane back to the first film for a moment with some concept art for an ending that was cut from ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’—an ending that features a haunting homage to the original ‘Planet of the Apes.’ Why was this ending cut? Presumably because the studio wasn't fully committed to making a sequel at this point in the planning stage.
There have been few performances as effective and moving this year as Andy Serkis' work as Caesar in 'Dawn of the Planet of Apes.' Combining Serkis' raw acting with the technical wizardry of a talented visual effects crew, the role feels like another huge leap forward for motion capture performances. So, naturally, 20th Century Fox is out to get Serkis an Oscar nod, even if it means getting him nominated in the wrong category.
As yet another star-studded and box office-busting summer moviegoing season ends this weekend, it's the perfect time to look back at the months that gave us enough entertainment to pad our culture-consuming bellies until it's time for the Oscar...