Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Film Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

I was a huge fan of Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 film, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” He successfully restarted a franchise that had been lying dormant since Burton’s laughably awful “reimagining” in 2001 of the original film franchise. Wyatt’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” explores the origins of the super-smart primates, the first steps of the demise of the human race, and the rise of hyper-intelligent super apes that will (spoiler alert!) eventually take over the world.

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Film Review: The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

Film Review: The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn

The original book series, ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ by Hergé was one of my favorite books growing up. Borrowed constantly from the library and read cover to cover, I always wanted to see a big screen adaptation of Tintin. But alas, Tintin’s heyday was far behind us, and even still, the series, at least in my time was never very popular. Mentioning it only brought the response, “You mean that show with the dog? Rintintin?”

When it was announced that Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg were going to be bringing the stories to life in a feature, it was a no brainer. One of my other favorite characters growing up was Indiana Jones, whose adventures, despite being inspired by the old Republic serials, had to be also inspired by Tintin’s adventures.

‘The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn’ is the first in a series of films being produced by Spielberg and Jackson. It stars Jamie Bell as Tintin, and Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock. The script really merges a few elements from the various books into one complete story.

Tintin, a well known reporter, comes across a model ship at an outdoor flea market. Purchasing it from the vendor, he instantly is offered money by a mysterious American, who warns him of the trouble behind the ship, as well as by a man we come to know as Sakharine (Daniel Craig).

When he takes the ship home, an accident causes the ship to fall, releasing from the ship a small scroll, that holds a strange paragraph. Tintin’s journalistic instincts take hold, as he investigates the interest in his model ship.

The investigation eventually leads him to Captain Haddock, a mostly drunken Sea Captain whose family background ties into the secret of the Unicorn, and the two combine their efforts and become fast friends on their adventure.

The film captures the spirit of the books completely. Even to the point where I completely forgot where the lines of the different books they combined were. Also great are the characters of Thompson and Thompson (played by Simon Pegg and Nick Frost), hopefully the next film features these characters more prominently.

I’m not the biggest fan of motion capture, or 3D, but I thought the animation looked great. Not so realistic looking that it begged the question, “why do it this way,” and not so fake that it looked like a Veggietales film. One of my favorite parts of the film was a street artist in the opening scene sketching Tintin. The resulting portrait is literally a Tintin as drawn by Hergé.

While many who aren’t familiar with Tintin might not enjoy the film, it is easily accessible to all ages. It’s a fun, unique family film, that for once, does the source material great justice.

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Director Rupert Wyatt only has one other feature film to his name, ‘The Escapist,’ so to hand over the reigns of such a big property like Planet of the Apes is definitely a big risk on the part of the studios. It shows that perhaps we’ve reached a time where the studios are finally seeing that with risk comes reward, and ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes,’ is evidence of that.

Unlike most summer fare, there are two writers credited for ‘Apes,’ Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver. Often times summer films are written and rewritten, with the message getting lost. That is not the case here.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist whose been working to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, testing his genetically engineered virus on chimpanzees. The virus gives an uncanny level of intelligence to the test subjects. One of the subjects becomes extremely violent, and it is revealed that it was all to protect her baby.

The chimp is killed, and the study is shut down. When Will learns of the baby chimpanzee, he takes it home. As he studies the growing chimp, he learns that the intelligence has been passed down, and that Caesar is at times surpassing the intelligence of his human counterparts.

Will continues his research, and years pass. Caesar connects with the family, and with Will’s father, Charles (John Lithgow). Suddenly, an incident occurs, and Caesar is taken into custody.

This is where things start to fall apart.

Caesar, played by Andy Serkis, is entirely computer animated, all of the animal effects in this film are better than I have ever seen. The emotion you feel when Caesar is separated from his family is great, best CGI performance since Serkis’ turn as Gollum.

The films weakest link is the character of Caroline, a veterinary doctor played by Freida Pinto. Her character is completely under developed, and her dialogue just takes you out of the film. In an otherwise excellent plot development, her purpose other than a romantic interest for Will, and it just felt tacked on.

As far as tying in to the rest of the series, it has been a long time since I’ve seen the original, but it definitely feels like this film fits. You definitely feel for the side of the apes throughout, while I do feel like in the other films, it was Humans against Apes, so as an audience, you’re in a bit of a conundrum. While the film alleges (slight spoiler alert) that Human’s are at fault for their own destruction, it is the actions of a select few that cause the eventual demise – but everyone has to pay for those actions. As humans, we are put in a tough spot, but I’ll tell you one thing, this film definitely has the support of groups like PETA.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is definitely a standout in what has quite the entertaining summer. I highly recommend this film to all.

Spielberg & Jackson Talk “Tintin”

In a video taped for some sort of comic convention in Europe, we have the first look at Steven Spielbeg and Peter Jackson talking about the upcoming “Tintin” project.  Both Spielberg and Jackson appear in the video, wearing bowler hats a la the Thompson Twins, and talk a little about the upcoming movie.  You want to check it out, click here.

Word on the project is quiet at the moment, but from what I understand, Spielberg has either wrapped or is close to wrapping his production of the first film.  Production now heads to New Zealand where WETA will take over and begin the animation process.  (Spielberg will check in on-line and not make the flight.)

“The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn,” is scheduled for release in 2011.

Tintin Has Been Cast

Tintin Has Been Cast

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There is more exciting news about the upcoming Tintin movie, based, of course, on the popular Belgian comic book character.  The movie started shooting on Monday, and there has been some announcements made about casting. [Read more…]

Tintin To Begin Shooting in Two Weeks

Tintin To Begin Shooting in Two Weeks

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According to Andy Serkis, (who will be playing the role of Captain Haddock,) the 3D Peter Jackson produced and Steven Speilberg directed movie will begin shooting in two weeks.

Here’s what Serkis told Coming Soon about the books about the famous Belgian boy reporter: “I remember reading them as a child. I wasn’t this massive fan. I loved the almost storyboard nature of the beautiful, beautiful drawings. And the way its going to be done… It’s obviously performance capture so it’s is going to be perfect. There isn’t a more perfect way of doing it.”

There has been no casting news with regards to the lead character.  We expect to hear something soon.  -Sam

Tintin Casting News Released

Tintin Casting News Released

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In what is one of my more anticipated movies of 2009/2010, (probably ’10 given the production delays,) there is some word on casting in Steven Spielberg’s Tintin movie.  (Don’t forget Peter Jackson will be doing the second film with a director yet to be announced to do number three.)

First off, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’ fame have been cast to play the Thompson Twins.  The rumor had been going around for months, but it’s now finally been confirmed.  Also, Jackson regular Andy Serkis will be playing Captain Haddock.  You will recall that Thomas Sangster had been cast as Tintin, but he has supposedly dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.

So, a new Tintin needs to be cast as well as Snowy.  That said, these names just announced has me excited to see this movie just a little bit more.  -Sam

Spielberg Still Directing ‘Tintin’

Herge Studios, the publisher for ‘Tintin,’ made a comment Tuesday alluding that Peter Jackson was going to take over directing the first ‘Tintin’ adaptation from Spielberg.

‘Tintin,’ is the famous comic created by Hergé, and about an adventurous Belgian reporter named Tintin. The books were translated for the world wide audience.

Reps from boths camps insisted that while Jackson remains attached to direct the sequel, he will only be producing the first film, with Spielberg directing. The film will be his first project since the new “Indiana Jones’ movie.

The studio has confirmed that the basis of the first film will be the two-part comics “The Secret of the Unicorn,” and “Red Rackham’s Treasure,” published in 1942 and 1944.

The film will be made with motion-capture technology a la ‘Polar Express.’ It stars Thomas Sangster as Tintin, and Andy Serkis as Captain Haddock.