Rise of the Planet of the Apes
So they can still manage it - just about. It would appear that rumours of Hollywood's death have been greatly exaggerated, if Rise of the Planet of the Apes is anything to go by.
I no longer go to the cinema - not for mainstream pictures, anyway - because Hollywood doesn't make movies anymore. What Hollywood makes are adverts stretched over two hours; glossy visuals with nothing going on underneath, peopled with banal nonentities, and overlaid with exactly the same orchestral score. The last Hollywood film I saw was Tim Burton's CGI vomit trail Alice In Wonderland, which, to quote another writer (writers, Hollywood - remember them?) was "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
That's a quote that could be applied to almost anything shown at your local multiplex over the last 10 years. But not Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a film about which barely an unkind word has been said (although someone did grumble, somewhere, that the title doesn't actually make any sense. Think about it) and I'm not going to start.
Well, okay, I do have one teeny gripe, and that's the lack of star power. The two leads - Mister Boy Next Door and Miss Sexy Asian Doctor (sorry, I know not their names) - are so dull and featureless they might have been selling toothpaste. Mister Boy Next Door is the kind of role a young Tom Hanks, or perhaps even Michael J. Fox might have played once upon a time. This guy (oh - James Franco, I see from the poster) would be better off standing at the entrance to Abercrombie & Fitch in his underwear. As for his girlfriend, well, I suppose we should be grateful it wasn't Cameron Diaz. Where are all the stars?
Cardboard cutout pretty people aside, John Lithgow and Britain's own David Oyelowo put in respectable support turns as Lovable Dad and Evil Businessman, but, of course, the real stars are the apes, with Andy Serkis' turn as top dog ape Caesar truly breathtaking. I'm not a fan of CGI and similiar tech geek fakery, but this motion-capture malarkey really works. It felt like watching real apes, not some tedious gamer fantasy.
Apes is far from tedious; it's suspenseful, surprisingly moving, and just a bit thoughtful - with one hell of a cliffhanger.