Quick Takes: Ride Along, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Afternoon Delight

ride_along_xlgRide Along (2014)
threestar

Starring Ice Cube, Kevin Hart, John Leguizamo, Bruce McGill, Tika Sumpter, Bryan Callen, Laurence Fishburne, Dragos Bucur, Gary Owen, Jacob Latimore, Jay Pharoah, Benjamin Flores Jr.
Directed by Tim Story

Like many action comedies, it would be easy to rip Ride Along for having a dumb plot and sequences where our heroes would never survive if it were real life. But action comedies aren’t real life, so as long as I’m laughing more than I’m not, I’m happy. Ride Along made me happy. Ride Along has gotten fairly dismal reviews from almost everyone, and while I can’t defend it as some great piece of cinema, it’s definitely more fun than the consensus makes it appear. What it comes down to is that I think Kevin Hart is funny, and I also love me some Ice Cube. Together they make a great comedy duo. The action could have been shot better, but this is a small complaint in a quick, fun, entertaining movie. Clear your mind for a night and just ride along with it.

a92058kywgvRise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
threehalfstar

Starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris, Ty Olsson, David Hewlett
Directed by Rupert Wyatt

I love the original Planet of the Apes films, but after seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes I think it might be hard to go back. I’m shocked how much I enjoyed this one. You really couldn’t ask for a better modern take on the Planet of the Apes saga, although I do wonder if they’ll stick with CG for the more evolved humanoid apes if they continue the series. I suppose they will, but Rick Baker’s makeup from Tim Burton’s 2001 remake was so good I kinda wish they’d do that again. Anyway, if you’ve been on the fence for the last few years, definitely watch this one! By focusing the story on a single ape, we are able to feel for the character, right down to the point of cheering the apes on during the film’s climactic (and awesome) final act. I can’t wait to see the sequel!

afternoon-delight-posterAfternoon Delight (2013)
threestar

Starring Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch, Jessica St. Clair, Michaela Watkins, Josh Stamberg, John Kapelos, Keegan Michael Key, Annie Mumolo
Directed by Jill Soloway

Afternoon Delight walks a thin line between drama and dark comedy, delivering both very well and remaining engaging throughout. At least for me. I can imagine this one will split people, as it’s pretty much nothing but spoiled white people problems. They are problems nonetheless, and something as life affecting as being unhappy in a relationship shouldn’t be trivialized. Rachel (Kathryn Hahn) is the unhappy one in question, and her life changes course when she visits a strip club with her husband and another couple. Rachel becomes somewhat obsessed, or at the very least highly interested, in getting to know McKenna (Juno Temple), the stripper she connected with. One thing leads to another and McKenna is living in Rachel’s spare bedroom. What makes Afternoon Delight so interesting to me is how much director Jill Soloway seems to be saying with the film, without actually saying it. There’s so much to dissect about the character relationships, revealing insightful takes on truth, trust and the relationships that shape our lives. Kathryn Hahn is superb as Rachel, giving a raw, emotional performance that deserves acclaim, and Juno Temple is a perfect, confident complement to Hahn’s nervous energy. Very good, but definitely not for everyone.

The Three Musketeers (2011)

The_Three_MusketeersStarring Logan Lerman, Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, Luke Evans, Milla Jovovich, Christoph Waltz, Mads Mikkelsen, Orlando Bloom, Gabriella Wilde, James Corden, Freddie Fox, Juno Temple

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

Expectations: Low, but I’m fairly excited.

On the general scale:
onestar

On the B-movie scale:
threestar


I won’t even try to pretend that I knew what was going on throughout most of The Three Musketeers, but I never really cared. The movie is chock full — and I mean CHOCK FULL — of imaginative, wild shit, so something as mundane and boring as an understandable plot just simply had to fall by the wayside. Sure, this is sure to add fuel to the detractors’ fire, but those who accept what the film is trying to do will enjoy it rather well. And those who stumble in looking for a traditional re-telling of the classic story will be absolutely crushed.

But I’m honestly not deeply familiar with the original tale, so really I don’t know how good of an adaptation this is. I’m pretty sure there weren’t any airships in the Dumas original, though. 🙂 What I can comment on was how much this particular adaptation reminded me of a Shaw Brothers wuxia film. I don’t know if it was the swords, or maybe the over-the-top fantasy of the character’s actions in the action sequences, or the complicated plot involving various factions all jockeying for supremacy, or the exaggerated villains typified by broad strokes of melodrama, but all throughout the film I kept coming back to how much it felt like a Western version of an old-school wuxia film. It’s not nearly as entertaining as one of those, but seeing as there aren’t a lot of Western-made wuxia films, I have to give this one some slack, just like I did the same for some of the really early Shaw films.

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