Movie Bag #7 – Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Wrecked, Drive Angry, I Am Number Four, Super
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is everything you should expect from a movie with that title. You get your explanation of how it happened, you get your bad ass action sequences, and you get some powerful performances from characters that you actually care about. Andy Serkis plays Caesar, a genetically modified chimp that you get to see grow up for the first half of the movie. His IQ is doubling on a yearly basis, and his face alone expresses his feelings as he grows from a naive, hyper little guy to a man to ponders his unique situation and the wrongness of it all. He isn’t fully satisfied by his life with the doctor (James Franco) who smuggled him out of the lab and raised him, but he seems content. When unfortunate circumstances land him in a primate shelter he comes face to face with how cruel man can be though a bully played by Tom Felton (formerly Draco Malfoy). By the time that the uprising begins, Caesar’s motives feel entirely justified. Instead of a evil, angry super-chimp villain we’re given a thoroughly interesting and complicated one. He feels like a real person, and once you get past that initial suspension of disbelief you never for a second question that. I would be shocked if Sekis didn’t get a nomination because of this film.
Wrecked has been done better already. Adrien Brody wakes up after a big car crash to find that he’s stuck, his leg is injured, and he has no idea who or where he is. He screams, he cries, he hallucinates, he sleeps, he pees himself, and so on. If you’re a fan of Adrien Brody then his excellent acting could probably carry you through the movie, but aside from the lead actor there just isn’t much to like. The majority of the movie just focuses on him struggling with his leg, with occasional clashes with wildlife or natural obstacles. Wrecked isn’t a terrible movie, but it can feel boring and overly long at times. A film can only rely on one person’s talents to a certain point before all of the other weak spots start to shine through. Viewers interested in this movie are better off watching Buried instead.
Drive Angry is pure grindhouse. If you’ve been looking for your ‘B’ movie fix, look no further. Nicolas Cage plays a father who comes back from hell to avenge his daughter’s death and save her baby. All he really has is a few guns and a knack for surviving fatal wounds while he hunts down a villain that’s as simple as they come. The bad guy is simply bad, and you want to see him taken down. He tortures, rapes, murders, worships the devil, you name it. Throughout the movie Cage is pursued by one of the devil’s men, who seems entirely disinterested in what’s going on. He just pulls moves straight from The Matrix while casually going about his day as if it’s routine, making various remarks about people’s misconceptions of hell. Drive Angry serves as a great example of how mindless action can be done right. I found it vastly more entertaining than anything we’ve been getting from the likes of Michael Bay. Just remember that it’s still grindhouse, not Inception.
I Am Number Four is a movie that I sincerely hope fails to launch a franchise. There are a group of aliens on Earth that are trying to blend in with the general public because another group of aliens that reminded me of Star Trek (2009)’s Romulans are hunting them down in a specific order? Why kill them in order? Never explained. Number Three was just killed, so you follow Number Four as he tries to pretend to be a high school student. Unfortunately, Number Four is a massive idiot so he’s immediately using his powers in the open and generally going out of his way to shine a spotlight on himself. When his protector tries to warn him Four acts like he’s the bad guy for trying to keep him alive, and the movie actually seems to side with Four! Insert irritating angst, generic high school bully, and awkward romance scenes and you’ve got the majority of the film. When the Romulans finally launch their big attack and Number Six enters the scene we’re treated with some surprisingly cool fight scenes that are packed with teleportation, energy beams, acrobatics, you name it. The final scenes feel like they’re the end of a much better movie, and I almost want to recommend the film just for that. I just can’t wish the first hour of this movie on anyone, though. We need to do what we can to stop supporting this trend that seems to be a response to Harry Potter where you get actors in their 20′s to play teenagers with some sort of super powers or other excuse to brood all day. Twilight, Number Four, Beastly? If you’re going to borrow elements from a successful franchise, how about you borrow the part where it’s good? Avoid.
Super is a mixed bag. You watch as a socially inept man loses his wife and seeks revenge through a superhero persona. It starts out as a dark comedy, but it continues to get darker and darker as it progresses, leaving most of the comedy behind. Expect some creepy scenes, uncalled for violence, and a whole lot of gore. Ellen Page joins in as the sidekick, and the movie is almost worth watching just to see Page go bat shit insane on screen. For better or for worse Super is probably the most accurate representation of what sort of things could happen if someone tried to fight street crimes as a masked hero. It’s passable, but if you’re on the fence I would recommend giving it a shot. If nothing else it’s memorable.