Summer Movie Preview: August 2011

August brings us a clash between horror and sci-fi as vampires, demons, and super-intelligent apes battle the Grim Reaper and a beefy Barbarian for your last few popcorn coins.

We apparently worship false gods. We adore sitting, enraptured, as mutants and other mysteries of nature battle it out for symbolic superiority (and no, we aren't talking about an overly buff Vin Diesel taking on an equally muscled Dwayne Johnson for Brazilian back alley bragging rights). Robots rule our lazy, hazy summer days, their transformative powers perking up an otherwise aggressive assault on our senses, and every once in a while, a comedy/drama/kids film will walk by, gaining our interest before another caped crusader comes in to claim its territory. That's right, it's blockbuster time again, the annual cinematic assumption regarding what a majority of the mainstream movie-going public will enjoy come the next four months. Sure, it's a gamble, and sometimes, the lows are more famous than the highs. One thing's for sure, however, we won't be seeing another Inception any time soon.

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Director: Rupert Wyatt

Film: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis, Chelah Horsdal, Tom Felton, Brian Cox, David Hewlett

MPAA rating: PG-13


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5 August
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

How do you jumpstart a fan favorite franchise when your previous attempt (via Tim Burton) left you with more egg than entertainment on your series face? Well, you wait around a while, let the reputation of your reboot die down, and then take on all comers, concept-wise. The winner is this "origin" story, an attempt to explain how thousands of years from now, the Statue of Liberty ends up halfway submerged in some beachhead. The answer? A noble scientists (James Franco) who introduces a "smart" drug to his test monkey population, turning them into thinking beings - and apparently, pissed-off hater of humans. While the logistics of an ape takeover remain in question, we can't wait to see how this plays out.

Director: David Dobkin

Film: The Change-Up

Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Jason Bateman, Mircea Monroe, Leslie Mann, TJ Hassan

MPAA rating: R


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5 August
The Change-Up

Oh brother...the body switching comedy? Didn't we get our fill of that back when Reagan was President? Apparently not, since the makers of this proposed laugher have decided that melding said high concept to the new trend toward gratuitous, gross-out low brow gags would be something novel. After seeing the recent Red Band trailer, the combination seems more specious than ever. Jason Bateman is the harried father who wants another chance at bachelor hood. Ryan Reynolds is the free swinging pal he trades with? Okay, we're a bit interested. Just remember, for every Big, there is a Vice Versa and 18 Again - except this time, there's dick jokes.

Director: Scott Rosenbaum

Film: The Perfect Age of Rock and Roll

Cast: Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter, Peter Fonda, Taryn Manning, Lauren Holly

MPAA rating: R


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5 August
The Perfect Age of Rock and Roll

Like the meaning of life (to paraphrase The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), the answer is 27. That's the response to the title query, the age when Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones,, all bought it in the name of making music. What this has to do with a drama involving two musicians - one massively successful, one failed but fulfilled by being a small town teacher - and their eventual reunion is anyone's guess. Even more intriguing is how Kevin Zegers and Jason Ritter can pull of their roles as rock icons in various states of flux. Whatever the case, this has the feel of filler, something the studios are sticking into the mix to make room for something more substantial later on.

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