A new starting point for the four-decades-old franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes follows a genetically modified chimpanzee named Caesar (a motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis, who seems to have cornered that particular market) who learns humanity’s capability for both good and ill, rebelling against the latter. There are people here, too, primarily the scientist (James Franco) responsible for the mutation, but they are wisely left in the dust as we get to see the soul hiding behind the digital eyes of the apes. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Fright Night reassembles the pieces of the 1985 original to create a superior film. Charley (Anton Yelchin) suspects his neighbor Jerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire and attempts to reveal Jerry’s secret to his doubtful girlfriend (Imogen Poots) and mother (Toni Collette). This is clever genre filmmaking–a horror film that is modestly self-aware, occasionally unsettling, and conscious of ensuring its characters come across as more than chow for the bloodsucker. My review is here. Available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray 3D.
The problem that Kung Fu Panda 2 has a difficult time coming to terms with is that Po (voice of Jack Black), the titular panda, has moved from the outside to the inside. In the first movie, he was an incompetent, unlikely hero with dreams of becoming like his heroes; here, he is a genuine hero, a celebrity, and a skilled fighter. The sympathetic hook is missing and so is the assured balance of tone and genuine heart. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.