New movies this week
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The gist: A computer-animated chimp becomes super-smart and decides not to shell out $10 to see a movie with an ending we already know. PG-13
The cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis' motion capture, Brian Cox and Tom Felton.
The buzz: Well, the gorilla jumping into the helicopter is pretty cool, and Serkis makes a chimp seem more human than the humans. "Precisely the kind of summer diversion that the studios have such a hard time making now. It's good, canny-dumb fun," the New York Times says. Whoa.
The gist: A harried family man and a lustful lothario switch bodies and learn there's something to like about each other's lives. Wait, why would they want to switch in the first place? R
The cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Leslie Mann, Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and Mircea Monroe.
The buzz: Oh, as an excuse to make dirty jokes, that's why. "While the reliable Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman wring some laughs from a creaky but durable setup … the script takes R-rated gross-out humor to such forced extremes that its later bid for sentimental sweetness feels disingenuous and unearned," Variety warns.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
The gist: Two women in modern Shanghai are connected through ancestors in 19th-century China and must come to understand that petty drama and self-loathing are just a part of being female. Well, that's what it seems like. PG-13
The cast: Gianna Jun, Bingbing Li, Vivian Wu, Jiang Wu, Russell Wong and Coco Chiang.
The buzz: A little too disjointed for its own good, despite the source material. "While the action flashes back and forth in increments of centuries, years or months, we're adrift in the here and now, trying to get a grip on the characters and their relationships, yet finding it loosened with every new dislocation," the Wall Street Journal says.
The gist: Instead of paying to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes, why not watch a documentary about a real chimpanzee who was raised as a human, and see how terribly that turned out. He didn't even need smarty juice. PG-13
The cast: Garry Harris, Stephanie Lafarge, Jenny Lee Wright, Laura Ann Petitto, Joyce Butler and Bill Tynan.
The buzz: Okay, it's way better than gorillas attacking helicopters. "Like the experiment itself, Project Nim morphs from something inspiring and often humorous to a pointed and disturbing portrait of arrogance run amok. Greed and glory end up overriding decency and altruism, and it's heartbreaking to watch," the AP notes.
— Joshua Gillin firstname.lastname@example.org