Tag Archives: Tyler Labine

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Okay, confession time- this is my first “Planet of the Apes” movie. I have never seen the Charlton Heston original. Hell, I haven’t even seen the crappily reviewed Tim Burton film with Helena Bonham Carter and Mark Wahlberg.

But I have to say, despite my lack of experience with the “Apes” franchise, this one grabbed my attention right away. This is up there with Neill Blomkamp’s “District 9” as science fiction at its most emotionally charged, tinged with social commentary.

This is a star-studded cast — James Franco, John Lithgow, Tom Felton of the “Harry Potter” films — and yet the film belongs to the apes. These CGI wonders are incredibly realistic, and through the magic of modern technology, given the facial expressions of actors.

The plot: Will (James Franco) works for a scientific research facility, where he is trying to create a serum that will help the brain repair itself, curing maladies such as Alzheimer’s and other mental disorders. His heartache and his inspiration is his father Charles (John Lithgow) whose mind is in the grip of the disease.

For reasons I will not go into here, Will is put in charge of raising Caesar, a highly intelligent ape. Caesar’s expressions are contributed by Andy Serkis, the face behind Peter Jackson’s Gollum and King Kong. Will quickly gets attached to Caesar, but Will’s veterinarian girlfriend, Caroline (Frieda Pinto) wisely advises him that Caesar will not be young and cute forever.

Caesar’s presumed of abandonment at the hands of Will and abuse perpetrated by cruel ape handler Dodge (Tom Felton, mustering every bit of his meanness from his Draco Malfoy days) is upsetting but crucial to Caesar’s development as a character. But rather than make Will (Franco) into a villain, the film makes him a essentially good character who grows to care for Caesar deeply, but cannot take charge of his fate.

It hurt me to see Caesar abandoned and abused by the humans, so watching him break free and command a legion of primates in the ape revolution is gratifying. Most of the time, the movie makes you believe in its characters and happenings 100% percent, which is hard to do in a super-intelligent-apes-take-over-the-world movie. Caesar is an amazing character who grows so much throughout the movie, reaching a peak of development that some human film characters never even aspire to.

You don’t have to be a “Planet of the Apes” fan to see there is some kind of genius at work here, and this timely and relevant film will thrill and engross you. See it. Trust me.

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Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil (2010)

“Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is a willfully ridiculous, ridiculously bloody, balls-out and slightly touching film that allows the hillbillies to be the heroes for a change.

Tucker and Dale, far from the chainsaw-wielding, pig-raping rednecks we have come to expect from horror movies and West Virginia jokes, are just trying to have a nice time at their vacation home when out of the blue come a group of college kids who also want to have a nice time… but quickly become an incompetent lynch-mob over a series of misunderstandings.

The progression of the plot is super simple — somehow, under various circumstances, these doltheads keep killing themselves all around Tucker and Dale’s vacation home. Meanwhile, lovelorn Dale (Tyler Labine) harbors a crush on one of the college girls (Katrina Bowden,) while TuckerĀ (Firefly’s Alan Tudyk) encourages him to believe in himself.

What really matters here are the jokes, delivered steadily and evoking a lot of laughs. The dialogue is one of the funniest in recent indie horror-comedies. The kills are brilliant in their own way, straining credulity to the extreme while still remaining hilarious and entertaining.

I don’t know how they did it, but I actually found the romance between bearish, backwoods boy Dale and slim, blonde college student Alison (Bowden) to be believable in the context of the movie. Anyway, it’s no less plausible than the college students somehow killing themselves, whether by fire, woodchipper (shades of “Fargo”) or tree branch (WTF?!)

“Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” has a big, warm, squishy heart at the middle of it, for all its guts and gore. It also provides a valuable message about not making snap judgments about people, without making the audience slog through the after-school special shit.

Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine give hilarious performances as the two harmless hillbillies at the center of the story, while Katrina Bowden is fittingly likable as the college girl that Dale falls head over heels for. The ending gets a little overly silly, but the movie will have won your heart long beforehand. “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil” is a awesome entry into the horror/comedy genre.