Nerd Heard Episode 125 – Justice League: WAR

The nerds take a moment to record their thoughts on the recent DCU Animated release, Justice League: War, based on the New52 Justice League Origins story.  This is the first post Bruce Timm project and the nerds have quite a few opinions on this latest endeavor from DC.  So grab some popcorn and A LOT of patience and take a listen to what these nerds heard!

Justice_League-War

Nerd Heard focuses on nerd and geek culture. We discuss comics, movies, television, video games and anything else nerdy. Nerd Heard is hosted by Richard “Chubtoad” Sheldon and Kenneth E. Hayes.

Listen to what these nerds heard:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nerd-heard/id702626890

Website:  www.nerdheardonline.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NerdHeardPodcast

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nerdheard1

Twitter: @nerdheardonline

e-mail: thenerds@nerdheardonline.com

 

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The Lone Ranger Rides Again – Chubtoad’s review of The Lone Ranger (2013)

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Ah yes!  Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear and see a fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty “Hi-Yo Silver!”  The Lone Ranger rides again!  The team that brought us the Pirates of the Caribbean has brought the masked avenger of the Wild West and his faithful Indian companion Tonto back for a new generation.  I am a huge fan of the original radio serial and I have a cassette collection that has been worn out over the years.  (If anyone knows where I can get digital copies, please let me know)  As a kid I would watch the Clayton Moore (Lone Ranger) and Jay Silverheels (Tonto) black and white reruns on WGN every day while playing with my Lone Ranger and Tonto action figures by Gabriel Toys.  The Lone Ranger has been a part of my imagination’s fictional world all my life and I have waited a long time to have a feature film or series for my generation.   That is why I was excited to hear that Disney had green lit this film with Johnny Depp as Tonto and then later added Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger.  To hear that Gore Verbinski and his team from Pirates was on this made me feel pretty good about what we might get.  I was not disappointed.

The film opens during the 1930’s with the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge as a backdrop.  A boy dressed as a masked cowboy is visiting a Wild West show and meets the elderly Tonto.  This setup the structure of the film being told in flashbacks, which at first I was not sure if I would like, but by the end I thought this was a fun way to tell this story.  The bond we older fans of the Lone Ranger have with the mythos of the masked man from radio and TV was gone, but that was ok.  I expected that.  I knew there would be a different tone and focus to this version.  The setting is Texas of course, but it is that John Ford western type of Texas.  The scenery is beautiful and the cinematography is above excellent!  I would say this is Bojan Bazelli’s best work as a DP so far.  The origin story is pretty much faithful to that of the original tale.  The Texas Rangers are ambushed by Butch Cavendish and his gang where John Reid is left to die, but then found by Tonto who nurses him back to health.  The two then go about dispensing silver bullet filled justice to the Wild West.  This was a fun-filled good time.  This is a good example of a summer popcorn film.  There were times it got a little silly, but it was in that classic Depp kind of way and I did not mind it at all.  The humor worked well and the placement of the 1930’s scenes where Tonto is telling the boy the tale was done well despite my reservations early on.  So the tonal shift of this version was acceptable to me.  Hans Zimmer’s score was a nice accompaniment to the film and the moments where the William Tell Overture kicks in are exciting and get your blood pumping!

Overall, I thought this was a good, fun flick.  I had a few small issues here and there, but nothing that diminishes the good time I had watching this film so I won’t mention them.  The only area that I will mention is that the 2 hours and 29 minute running time was a bit long for the film.  They did not waste that time however.  There was a lot of extra story and backdrop included that really rounded out the story.  Helena Bonham Carter’s madam with the ivory fake leg was a fun addition and I really liked her scenes, but had they not included those sequences, the film would have not lacked at all.  The film is structured where Tonto is featured as the lead a bit more than Lone Ranger, but since the film is a story Tonto is telling a kid it works.

For me, the Lone Ranger will always be Clayton Moore and his faithful Indian companion Tonto will always be Jay Silverheels.  This might not be the Lone Ranger of my youth.  This may not be what people of my generation and older expect for the Lone Ranger, but I really enjoyed this and in my opinion it is a must see film.  I give it 4 stars out of five and want to see more!  So until next time Kemosabe, Hi-Yo Silver AWAY!

The Chubtoad is co-host and creator of Nerd Heard.  He and his co-host Kenneth E. Hayes can be heard on the Nerd Heard podcast. (To return with new episodes sometime in the fall)  Take a listen to what these nerds heard!

chubtoad01@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter @chubtoad01

Why the World Doesn’t Need Superman – Chubtoad’s Review of ‘Man of Steel’

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I use the sentence, “Why the world doesn’t need Superman” not only as a somewhat lame yet somewhat clever Lois Lane homage, but in the literal sense that we no longer need the Superman mythos as we have known it since 1939.  In recent years, DC Comics and parent company Warner Brothers has made attempts to steer the legendary hero away from the outdated creation from the minds of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to a more modern day tale of a man trying to find his place on an alien world that he has known as his only home.  The comic book industry was spun on its head in 2011 when DC Comics introduced the “New 52” through a cataclysmic event called “Flashpoint”.  The “New 52” was a somewhat “reboot” of the DC universe reintroducing their stable of characters while maintaining some of their past in the DCU canon.  While there were some successes with this bold move, there were many failures.  I count as one of the big failures their reintroduction of Superman.  DC took the Superman legend and made the legend into a dull, drab character that seemed more like a pathetic soap opera leading man than that of a superhero.  About this same time of the “New 52” is when ‘Man of Steel’ was announced.  You can imagine my concern and reservation at the time because that the initial description of what this film would be seemed very much like what was attempted in the comic book.  I became more confident as time went on in what this film might accomplish when cast and crew choices were being announced.  In the weeks leading up to the release, I became more excited about seeing this film.  Yet, I still had concerns in the back of my mind even watching the previews before the film that I may have set my expectations too high and I was in for a disappointment.  I am very happy to say that most of this film lived up to my expectations and more!

It is obvious very early on in the film that producer Christopher Nolan, writer David S. Goyer and director Zack Snyder had created something special and were going in a very smart and different direction with this version of Superman.  This is not the typical Krypton explodes and Superman crash lands as a baby to be raised by the Kent’s to become the hero origin story.  This is more an epic telling of Kal-El (Henry Cavill) and the history of his family and planet.  The fact that the filmmakers have most of the Clark Kent in Smallville story as a series of flashbacks takes us far away from that classic tale while still keeping him somewhat just the boy from Kansas.  Nolan, Snyder and Goyer use the classic tropes where they have to, but make this more of a science fiction story and less comic book superhero series.  We learn that Krypton is a colony of explorers that set out millennia ago to populate other worlds.  Krypton has advanced into a society that genetically engineers their offspring using a “codex” that creates a society of people that are predestined into their roles and professions.  Jor-El (Russell Crowe) a scientist and his wife (Ayelet Zurer) wanted their child to be able to choose his destiny and had a natural childbirth.  With Krypton on the brink of destruction, Kal-El will not find his destiny on Krypton as he is rocketed to Earth with the future of Krypton in his DNA.

One of the reasons that ‘Man of Steel’ works is the villain.  General Zod (Michael Shannon) was less a villain and more a soldier doing his job.  Zod was bio-engineered to be the protector of Krypton and its people.  With Kal-El having the future of his people literally in his blood, Zod goes to any length to remove Kal-El as an obstacle to his purpose.  Zod is not evil.  His character has motivations that clash with those of Clark Kent.  Clark learns that as Kal-El, his father sent him to Earth to be a savior of both the Kryptonian people and humans by bringing them together through his superior genes.  However, Clark was raised by Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane) who taught him that he needs to hide what he can do in order to not frighten people.  Costner is brilliant as Clark’s father.  He really puts his mark on this role.  Jonathan Kent is a person of good values and morals and passes those on to his adoptive son while all the while remaining cautious of what Clark can do.  There is a powerful scene in this film between Clark and his father where his father is discussing with Clark if he should have rescued a bus full of children.  This scene alone is worth seeing Costner as Kent.

Some of your classic characters from the Superman canon were present.   Lois Lane (Amy Adams) was a fun character and I liked this Lois, but it is not the same Lois Lane we are used to.  I am a fan of Adams and she did what she could in this role and gave a good performance, but I think I would have gone a different direction with this casting.  (It is hard for me to see anyone but Erica Durance as Lois)  The Lois of this film was a little too sweet.  She had some edge to her, but not what I expect in a Lois Lane.  She did pair nicely with the Cavill Superman and at least was not the klutzy, accident prone Lois we usually see.  I don’t think there was one scene where she laid in the corner unconscious.  The other supporting cast such as Christopher Meloni, Harry Lennix and Laurence Fishburne as Perry White were brilliant and did nicely in their respective roles.

‘Man of Steel’ is an action packed film.  This will be pleasant for most as the last opportunity Warner Brothers had at Superman was a brooding let down of very little action.  I have said many times that I have yet to see the perfect Superman movie.  The Reeve Superman films were more about a man with powers than a “super” man.  The Routh Superman was emo and lacked any connection to what Superman is all about.  After watching ‘Man of Steel’ I still feel I have yet to see a “perfect” Superman movie, but I have finally seen a great one.  I can cite a few issues with the film such as the pacing and rhythm being off in places.  There could have been a little more character development and some of the flashback sequences could have been placed better.  However, as a whole, this film gives me what I love in comic books and science fiction.  I do have to comment that while I am a fan of Hans Zimmer’s work, I did miss having at least a hint of John William’s classic Superman theme.  Even with that said, the score was well done in this film.

This different approach to the Superman story was a risk that paid off for DC Comics, Warner Brothers and the filmmakers.  Sure, there will be bits of this that the die-hard fanboys will not approve of, but I think there will be little to complain about.  I feel similar to the way I felt after watching Batman Begins.  The story fell outside the normal tropes for the character, but made me believe these characters and world exists.  This was not just another Superman film, or just a reboot to the franchise.  This is an attempt to create a world where Warner Brothers can introduce other aspects and characters of the DCU.  With this film they WB and DC have finally presented us with a seed that could blossom into a collection of films similar to what Marvel and Disney have given us in the Marvel Universe.  I look forward to what the future holds for this franchise and for the WB film DCU.  If you are a fan of Superman, see this film!  If you are a lover of science fiction, see this film!  If you love action films with great CGI work, see this film!  I give ‘Man of Steel’ 4 ½ stars out of 5.  The world needs THIS Superman!

The Chubtoad is co-host and creator of Nerd Heard.  He and his co-host Kenneth E. Hayes can be heard on the Nerd Heard podcast. (To return with new episodes sometime in the fall)  Take a listen to what these nerds heard!

chubtoad01@gmail.com

Follow me on Twitter @chubtoad01

Chubtoad reviews ‘The Muppets’

Chubtoad here with a review of the film The Muppets.

Were the Muppets a forgotten relic of pop culture as this film suggests?  The Muppet show has been off the air since 1981 with the exception of rare rerun appearances.  They have starred in over a dozen films and television specials, the last being 1999’s Muppets from Space.  They have turned up from time to time here and there, but never have left the consciousnesses of the legions of fans that grew up with them in the ‘70s and ‘80s.  Being a member of generation X, I was thrilled to see that there was going to be a revival of my beloved Muppets.  Will this film’s current attempt to bring them to a whole new generation and audience bring about a resurgence of Muppet Mania?  I sure hope so, but even if it doesn’t it will delight those of us who have loved them for decades.

This “reboot” of the Muppets is a brilliant, clever and downright fun ride that manages to bring back the franchise without sacrificing what made the Muppets special to begin with.  Jason Segel deserves much praise and credit in this endeavor he took on writing with his Forgetting Sarah Marshall director Nicholas Stoller.  Segel campaigned hard to get this film made and I am thankful that he did.  Even though Segel was born as the original Muppet Show was going off air, it is obvious that the reruns made a significant impression on him.  We got a glimpse of that love of felt covered, hand held creatures in his silly puppet adaptation of Dracula the musical in Forgetting Sarah Marshall.  However, he truly confesses his adoration of the Muppets with this film and we see just what lasting legacy the Muppets are capable of.

The film stars Segel as Gary who has a brother named Walter who is oddly enough a Muppet.  The film never addresses why his brother is a Muppet, but it is ok, it just works.  Walter and Gary grew up loving the Muppets and when Gary heads on vacation to Hollywood with his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams), Gary invites Walter along so he can tour the Muppet Studios.  Upon arrival is when we learn the Muppets are all but forgotten relics of Tinsletown and that oil mogul Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is about to tear down the studio to drill for oil.  Walter, Gary and Mary go in search of Kermit and gang to warn them and hilarity ensues!

To reveal much more of the plot would spoil the awesome surprises and the fun cameos the film has to offer.  I will say that when it is time to get the show started and time to light the lights the film kicks into high gear and I felt like I was eight years old and it was 1980 again!  I would be remiss not to mention that the new voice actors did the Muppets justice and the original voice actors would/should be proud.  The live actors did a fantastic job as well with Segel and Adams on the path to romance surrounded by Muppets and Cooper playing a perfect Muppet style villain in classic fashion.

Director James Bobin does a clever job at presenting the Muppets in classic tradition.  There are not CGI Muppets in the film, no crazy special effects.  Nothing is done in this film that could not be done in 1979.  That classic touch combined with the reality of today’s cynical world makes this film a true testament to what the Muppets are all about.  I recommend you see this film, especially if you carried a metal Pigs in Space lunchbox in first grade as I did.  This is a fun film and sometimes we have to remember we go to the movies to have fun.  Go see it.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars. Wocka Wocka!

 

**Chubtoad is co-host of Nerd Heard with Kenneth E. Hayes.

Nerd Heard focuses on nerd and geek culture. We discuss comics, movies, television, video games and anything else nerdy. Nerd Heard is hosted by Richard “Chubtoad” Sheldon and Kenneth E. Hayes.

Listen to what these nerds heard:

Itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nerdheardpodcast/id423188338

Website:  www.nerdheardonline.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nerd-Heard-Podcast/166709296714501

Blog: https://nerdheardonline.wordpress.com/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nerdheard1

Twitter: @nerdheardonline

e-mail: thenerds@nerdheardonline.com

Chubtoad reviews ‘Hugo’

Chubtoad here with a review of the film Hugo.

Admittedly, Hugo was a film that was not on my radar for the holiday film season.  I had read very little on the film and from the snippets of marketing I viewed leading up to its release, I had really had little desire to go out and see this film.  This changed when I was invited to a press screening of the film a couple of days before release.  Not only did I enjoy this film, I was impressed and blown away by the Scorsese endeavor, so much so that I am pretty sure this will go in my top 5 films of 2011 list!

As I said, I had little expectation for this film and had really no idea exactly what this story was going to be.  I must say that the marketing was a bit misleading as I was under the impression that I was going to see a film about magic and fantasy in genre style similar to that of Harry Potter.  I was wrong on that account, but was right that it was full of magic and fantasy, only not that of science fiction or supernatural, but that of wondrous storytelling and visually stunning cinema.  This is not a film that I would expect from the man that brought us Taxi Driver or Goodfellas.  Yet at the same time this is heart-warming ode to cinema and filmmaking that looking back now I could not see be made by any other filmmaker today.

Hugo is for all purposes categorized as a “children’s film”, but it is so much more than that.  I am a lover of film, a cinephile if you will, and there are many of us out there.  If you have any fondness of the roll of the projector lights and the flicker of a moving picture, this film will appeal to you.  However, the appeal of this Scorsese tribute to film is told in such a classic way that it will connect with everyone in a deep soul touching way.

Hugo, played by Asa Butterfield, is an orphan who lives on the fringe of society.  He actually lives in the walls and hidden tunnels of the Gare Montparnesse, a busy Parisian train station. He winds the clocks and hides from the station inspector and looks out at the lives of the people who work in the station.   We get a good detail of Hugo’s life in the station through a brilliant opening scene before the title credit.  This segment of the film is almost dialogue free and plays in perfect juxtaposition to the true subject of this story, early silent film.  The shots of early 20th century Paris was magnificent and breathtaking!  This is where I want to first note the 3D effects.  I am not a lover of 3D by any means; however, I was so glad I saw this 3D masterpiece!  I do believe that Scorsese is the first filmmaker to properly use the medium in a live action film.  I was blown away by this 3D!  It was done just right and if we are going to continue having films presented in 3D then filmmakers of future flicks need take note of what was done here.

Hugo survives by stealing food throughout the station all while avoiding the station inspector played by Sacha Baron Cohen.  Cohen by the way was a delight in this film.  He could have played that role very over the top and goofy, yet he was just the right bit of funny all the while making you really care for his character.  While I am speaking of the station inhabitants I need to mention that all the supporting characters we learn about were just magnificent!  These very colorful characters were played by actors like Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer and Harry Potter veterans Frances de la Tour and Richard Griffiths.

Food is not all that Hugo lifts from the station shops.  He also targets a toy shop that he has been taking small windup toy parts from in order to repair an automaton his father was working on before he died.  He believes that once repaired it will have a message from his deceased father.  The shop owner is film pioneer Georges Méliès who had left the film industry, destroyed his studio and sets as well as sold off his films to be melted down for shoe heels.  Méliès is played by the great Ben Kingsley who turns in such an amazing performance it will just warm your heart.  There is a scene where he delivers a bit of dialogue from off screen that leaves not a dry eye in the house.  His transformation in this film from grumpy shop keep to heart melting wonderful old filmmaker is done in a perfect manner and the plot moves forward seamlessly with him.

Hugo is a bit of a voyeur and extremely passive.  Actor Asa Butterfield really knows how to deliver a performance in such a way that it tugs at your heart strings.  Hugo is joined in adventure by Méliès’ goddaughter played by the talented Chloe Moretz, a bookworm and one who has a gift of the vernacular with an ever expanding vocabulary.  She gives Hugo the companionship he craves as he gives her the adventure she seeks.  Despite a questionable English accent, Moretz turns in a performance that I feel might bring her an academy nomination.  Together, the children uncover Méliès’ secret and with the help of a film historian, bring his work back into the limelight.

Scorsese worked with a brilliant team such as cinematographer Robert Richardson, special effects supervisor Rob Legato and editor Thelma Schoonmaker to bring this adaptation of Brian Selznick’s book The Invention of Hugo Cabret to life.  Even though the work is fiction, Méliès was a real filmmaker whose film A Trip to the Moon will be recognizable or at least familiar to most.  I think this work of historical fiction is one of the best in the genre.

Hugo is a true work of art and is a film I enjoyed from beginning to end.  With the exception of a few pacing issues during the first act which were barely noticeable, I think this film was almost perfect.  It is visually stunning and a great story that isn’t afraid to evoke emotion from the audience.  Combined with a great score composed by Howard Shore, this film will let you escape into the world of cinema like never before.  I highly recommend you see this film, especially in 3D!  I give Hugo 4.5 stars out of 5 and can’t wait to go see it again!

**Chubtoad is co-host of Nerd Heard with Kenneth E. Hayes.

Nerd Heard focuses on nerd and geek culture. We discuss comics, movies, television, video games and anything else nerdy. Nerd Heard is hosted by Richard “Chubtoad” Sheldon and Kenneth E. Hayes.

Listen to what these nerds heard:

Itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nerdheardpodcast/id423188338

Website:  www.nerdheardonline.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nerd-Heard-Podcast/166709296714501

Blog: https://nerdheardonline.wordpress.com/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nerdheard1

Twitter: @nerdheardonline

e-mail: thenerds@nerdheardonline.com

Chubtoad reviews Kevin Smith’s ‘Red State’

Chubtoad here.

I have to start off this review by giving the disclaimer that I am a long time fan of Kevin Smith’s work.  Ever since I saw Clerks in 1994, I have been consuming his products without question.  The man could fart in a coffee can and release it in a theater and I would pay to see it.  So with that said, I might be considered somewhat biased, but plan to remain objective in what I have to say about Kevin Smith’s latest work, ‘Red State’.

‘Red State’ is a departure from what we would normally think of when we say it is a “Kevin Smith Film”. There is a small dose here and there of his sophomoric and blue humor that we are accustomed to and we do have masterfully written dialogue as is his style.  However, both visually and mentally this is a different feel to a film than what we would expect from Kevin Smith.

The setup for the film is that three teenagers (Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun and Kyle Gallner) set plans in motion to have a sex orgy with a woman (Melissa Leo) they met on an internet date site.  All goes awry when they are drugged and kidnapped only to find themselves inside the extreme fundamentalist compound of the Cooper family.  Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) has a small but dedicated congregation hell-bent on ridding the world of sinners such as fornicators and homosexuals.  This group loosely modeled on the real life Phelps family, is fanatical about spreading their message of what God hates and goes to no end to do so.  It quickly becomes apparent to the boys that this group of bible thumpers is more pro-active in the way they handle “sinners”.

Michael Parks play the God-fearing preacher with a quiet and eerie tone that drips darkness and evil.  Smith put a 15 minute sermon in this film that sends chills up my spine as Parks delivers it in such a masterful way that it will make you question your very soul.  Nothing he says comes out cheerful and it gives you an ill feeling in your stomach, but his commanding delivery makes you listen.  When he dismisses the children from the chapel you want to leave with them due to the building feeling that something terrible is about to happen.

The supporting cast is very effective in ‘Red State’.  Melissa Leo gives a performance that proves she deserves that Oscar she received earlier this year.  Ralph Garman gives a creepy performance as Caleb the mute member of the church that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up!  Kerry Bishe gives a heart wrenching emotional performance as Cooper’s granddaughter that teeters on the edge of sanity.  The great John Goodman shows up about halfway through the film and leaps off the screen and demands the audience’s attention.  Goodman’s character leads the ATF on an investigation of Cooper’s Dell and rumors about illegal activities lead to a misunderstanding that sends this “horror” film into a full fledge action romp!

This film, while Smith considers it horror, breaks free of any genre.  It is a category all its own that questions what is right and wrong while entertaining and scaring you at the same time.  ‘Red State” takes pot shots and the extreme ultra conservatives in this country today.  Religious zealots and right wing nutjobs will take issue with this film, while those with some common sense and decency will understand the message and just enjoy this as the entertainment it is meant to be.

The dark and gritty tone to the visual style of this film shows that Director of Photography David Klein has come a long way from his cinematic debut with Clerks.  Kevin Smith and John Gordon have finally graduated the school of the Weinstein Brothers and show their diploma with ‘Red State’.  The Harvey Boys did a fine job here and I applaud the unconventional way in which they made and released this film.

‘Red State’ is a fun and entertaining journey unlike any Kevin Smith has taken you on before.  I highly recommend this film and give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

**Chubtoad is co-host to the Nerd Heard podcast with Kenneth E. Hayes.

Nerd Heard podcast episodes focus on nerd and geek culture. We discuss comics, movies, television, video games and anything else nerdy. The Nerd Heard podcast is hosted by Richard “Chubtoad” Sheldon and Kenneth E. Hayes.

Listen to what these nerds heard:

Itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nerdheardpodcast/id423188338

Website:  www.nerdheardonline.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nerd-Heard-Podcast/166709296714501

Blog: https://nerdheardonline.wordpress.com/

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/nerdheard1

Twitter: @nerdheardonline

e-mail: thenerds@nerdheardonline.com

Chubtoad Reviews ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’

Get your preconceived notions and low expectations out of here you damn dirty movie watcher!  ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ is a wonderful summer blockbuster of a film.  I must say, I had little expectation for this film.  Fox’s 2001 run at ‘Planet of the Apes’ left a bad taste in my mouth for this franchise so I had little hope of this being a good film.  I am glad to report that I was wrong!  This film was well directed, well acted and well produced.  The editing was spectacular and the CG through motion capture was near perfection.

‘Rise’ is a prequel to the original 1968 ‘Planet of the Apes’.  This film does stand on its own legs and I would very much like to see a remake of the 1968 film as a sequel to done by this crew.  Scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is working on a new drug to cure Alzheimer’s.  After an incident in the lab, he is forced to shelve his project and he in turn winds up taking a baby chimpanzee home, whose mother was a test subject.  The chimp, Caesar (Andy Serkis), shows a remarkable intelligence as a result of having his mother’s genetic alterations passed to him.  Will’s father Charles (John Lithgow) is administered the drug by Will and shows an unbelievable recovery from Alzheimer’s that he had been suffering from.

Charles has a relapse and Caesar intervenes in an unfortunate event that gets him sent to a primate sanctuary.  The sanctuary is run by a father (Brian Cox) and son (Tom Felton) team, who demean and torture Caesar.  It is then that Caesar learns the cruel side to the humans and thus begins the rise.  The apes begin to quickly evolve with some genetic altering help and we see what will become of man.

The true stars of this film are Andy Serkis and WETA Digital.  Serkis has studied primates before for his role as King Kong.  He masterfully portrays Caesar.  WETA does a fantastic job translating Serkis’ emotional facial movement through cutting edge motion capture technology.  Caesar is a complex and multifaceted character that gets you rooting for the apes.

The only complaint I have is that the development of the human characters in this film is lacking in comparison to the apes.  Don’t get me wrong, Franco delivers a decent performance and Lithgow and Cox are brilliant.  It just lacks in depth for the human stories what we have from the apes.  The on screen romance between James Franco and Frieda Pinto is just there.  It does not really service the story in any way.  Felton plays a scumbag which is little departure from his portrayal of Malfoy from the Harry Potter series.  I don’t count these human short comings as a drawback in the film; I just wish the characters were fleshed out a little more.

The film contains some homage to the original franchise that makes the film even more fun for filmgoers.  There are a lot of little surprises along the way.  The pacing of the film is spot on and the story keeps you involved and on the edge of your seat.  Director Rupert Wyatt interprets Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver’s script well and I must say that this is sci-fi story telling at its best!

This is a smart story that is entertaining and intelligent.  The action sequences are thrilling and fun.  I highly recommend this film.  I give ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ 4.5 stars and look forward to seeing it again.

 

You can hear Nerd Heard’s discussion of this film on episode 23.

 

Listen to what these nerds heard:

Itunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/nerdheardpodcast/id423188338

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Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nerd-Heard-Podcast/166709296714501

Blog: https://nerdheardonline.wordpress.com/

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Twitter: @nerdheardonline

e-mail: thenerds@nerdheardonline.com