Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
Ten years after the events of 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, the hyper-intelligent ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his followers come into conflict with the human survivors of a deadly virus, including Jason Clarke and Gary Oldman. Who will win? One hint: It ain’t called Dawn Of The Planet Of The Humans.
Replacing Rise director Rupert Wyatt is Matt Reeves, who made the found-footage monster movie Cloverfield and the American remake of Let The Right One In. At one point, Contagion screenwriter Scott Z. Burns was brought in to work on the screenplay, but when Reeves signed on, Burns was replaced by Mark Bomback, a contributor to the scripts for films like Live Free Or Die Hard, Unstoppable, The Wolverine, and Total Recall. (The bad one.)
None from critics yet, but Fox is apparently so pleased with Reeves’ work on Dawn that the studio has already signed him to make the next film in the Planet Of The Apes franchise, due out on July 29, 2016. This time, Reeves himself will co-script the film with Bomback.
Expectations. No one (except maybe Fox) anticipated much from Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, but the film’s impressive special effects and dark storyline made it a surprise hit. As the follow-up to a well-received movie, Dawn will face a lot more scrutiny than its predecessor. Rise just had to be better than Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes, which wasn’t terribly difficult. Dawn will have to outdo Rise, which could be a bit trickier.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 7.8
Still, the first trailer, which emphasizes tension and actual filmmaking over fast-cut action, has our hopes much higher than they usually are for sequels, much less sequels to surprise successes. We’re all ready to hail our new ape overlords.
In adapting the memoir of Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic and American icon Roger Ebert, documentarian Steve James alternates between a passionate, funny, warts-and-all retrospective consideration of Ebert’s epic career, and a wrenching, intimate look at the end of Ebert’s life, his relationship with wife/soulmate Chaz, and his public efforts to live and die with dignity. It’s a remarkable tribute to a remarkable man.
It would be hard to imagine a film with a more impressive pedigree. Ebert is a legend (albeit one who also wrote a number of X-rated sex comedies for Russ Meyer). James (director of Hoop Dreams) is one of the most respected and consistent documentarians around. And the film was produced by Oscar-winner Martin Scorsese, who also appears onscreen to discuss his friendship with Ebert.
The film received standing ovations and rapturous praise when it played Sundance; an Indiegogo campaign and the enthusiasm of Ebert’s enormous fan base have increased anticipation for the film to feverish levels.
Ebert was a populist who brought film criticism to the masses. Will the film have an opportunity to break out into the mainstream like Hoop Dreams, or will it be relegated to the documentary ghetto?
ANTICIPATION RATING: 8.7
We’re rooting for it like we rooted for the Hoop Dreams kids.
In a near-future dystopia—yes, another one—Mila Kunis plays Jupiter Jones, a lowly janitor who might also have a genetic claim on Earth. This doesn’t sit well with the King Of The Universe (Eddie Redmayne), who sends Caine Wise (Channing Tatum) to kill her. Then, based on all appearances, things get complicated.
Jupiter Ascending is the latest from Lana and Andy Wachowski, and it looks like a more commercial effort than the team’s last magnum opus, Cloud Atlas (co-directed with Tom Tykwer). It still looks ambitious: Though its chosen-one-against-the-forces-of-evil story bears a resemblance to The Matrix from a distance, the images released from the film suggest the Wachowskis are attempting a fusion of ancient myth and modern science fiction. (Think Jack Kirby’s Fourth World comics, with a contemporary blockbuster sensibility.)
There’s little to base any kind of judgment on beyond the visuals released in the trailer. But hey, visuals count for a lot in Wachowski films.
Yet they don’t count for everything: The difference between a Wachowski film where the ideas at play are as engaging as the effects and one where they aren’t is the difference between The Matrix and The Matrix Revolutions. There’s little doubt the film will look amazing. But will it be gripping in any other way?
ANTICIPATION RATING: 7.3
We’re betting it will. Our anticipation may be rooted in the degree to which sometimes, not knowing much about a Wachowskis project can be more exciting than actually watching it, because with so many unknowns, and with their commitment to oddity and ambition, we could be getting practically anything.