The Best Albums of 2011

Many people called 2011 one of the best years for music in a long time. While I haven’t been interested in music long enough to affirm that statement, I do know that I discovered some great albums, by both baby-faced newcomers and grizzled veterans alike. My favorite albums of 2011 are a pretty diverse bunch, but luckily they all have the important qualities of being accessible and rewarding. Give them a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

 

10. Deer Tick – Divine Providence

It’s quite a departure from their previous 3 albums, but Divine Providence is filled with the kind of boozy rock and roll that you wish you knew more of. Straying away from their signature alt-country/folk sound, Deer Tick manages to release 12 solid songs with titles such as “Let’s All Go to the Bar” and “Clownin’ Around,” both of which perfectly summarize the energy, carelessness, and generally raucous nature of the album. Listen, drink, repeat.
For fans of: forty minutes of rollicking good fun.

 

9. Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math

It was always going to be difficult (nigh impossible) for ManOrch to top their 2009 album Mean Everything to Nothing, at least in my book. Simple Math has its moments of greatness (Pensacola, April Fool), but ultimately falls a little short. The level of production has increased tremendously, which works for some songs, but the persistent “smooth” sound tends to take away from what could have been an absolutely superb follow up to one of my favorite albums ever. A gallant effort, with some really great songs, but inevitably somewhat disheartening.
For fans of: powerful rock with a few too many string arrangements.

 

8. Bright Eyes – The People’s Key

For many of favorite bands, 2011 seemed to be a year for change. Bright Eyes was no exception. The People’s Key completely abandons songwriter Conor Oberst’s often folksy sound in favor of jangling 80s guitars and buzz-saw synths. This doesn’t take away from the usual insightful songwriting, though. Rather, the new sounds only add to the already intricately layered album. Oberst is a man who’s going to do what he wants, and he’s going to do it well.
For fans of: Did I mention that the album contains several monologues about lizard aliens controlling Earth?

 

7. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy

To start, let me say that Strange Mercy was one of the most peculiar records I listened to this year. Normally, my musical tastes are somewhat tame, but there was something special about this album that I couldn’t (and still can’t) capture in words. Perhaps it’s the sheer creativity that’s appealing; the album has it in spades. Maybe it’s the way Annie Clark’s ethereal voice seems to rise and fall, melting in and out of the soundscapes with her trusty electric guitar. Regardless, inside of the strange chord changes, eclectic guitar playing, and obscure lyrics lies something special that’s unapparent on the surface. Strange Mercy is an album that needs to be heard to be believed.
For fans of: hipster-approved art pop

 

6. Laura Marling – A Creature I Don’t Know

A Creature I Don’t Know, Marling’s third album, is full of folk songs that are both intimate and robust, oftentimes simultaneously. She channels Bob Dylan in the way her songs are both fiercely original, yet accessible. The lyrics are poetic, evoking a bygone style of language that’s too often forgotten in today’s music. At the ripe young age of 21, Laura Marling has released three albums to critical acclaim and won the hearts of many fans the world over. Makes me wonder what I’m doing with my life.
For fans of: Bob Dylan, female empowerment, language

 

5. Childish Gambino – Camp

It seems like every year a hip hop album always seems to sneak its way onto my list. This year it’s no different, and Childish Gambino’s Camp happens to be the album of choice. For the unfamiliar, Childish Gambino is the rap name of Donald Glover, a multitalented guy who has written for 30 Rock and currently stars on the NBC show Community. This being said, Camp sounds like it was made for fans of these shows. Glover spits out verses at breakneck pace, referencing everything from Rugrats to Sufjan Stevens to The Human Centipede, and beyond. The album is just the right mix of swagger, pop culture, and clever, self-conscious songwriting.
For fans of: NBC’s Thursday night comedy, alarming numbers of sexual reference

 

4. The Vaccines – What Did You Expect From The Vaccines?

Breezy, reverb-tinged, retro pop-rock that warrants repeated play during the summer months. What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? took over my June and July, providing the energy and sun-soaked enthusiasm I usually needed to start my day. Most of the songs on the album clock in under three minutes, bobbing along with a kind of youthful carelessness that I rarely find anymore in music. With the kind of emotional and musical weight seen elsewhere on this list, it’s nice to have a band just play for a while. It’s a debut from four young lads from England; what did you expect from The Vaccines?
For fans of: garage rock, sunshine, happiness

 

3. M83 – Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming

For an album I didn’t get into until mid-December, it sure made an impact. With Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83 somehow creates a soundtrack to my dreams. Call it what you will (I like indietronica), the songs on this ambitious, sprawling double-album get lodged in your head and refuse to let go. There are catchy 80s-esque pop songs (Midnight City, OK Pal), soft and hopeful ballads (Soon, My Friend), and even an entire song dedicated to a young girl’s dream about frogs (Raconte-Moi Une Histoire). Sometimes I’ll forget I’m listening to the album. It’s not because it’s forgettable or boring; it’s because the songs somehow mesh with my mind in a way that’s incomprehensible, yet comforting.
For fans of: eclectic French electropop, music getting inside your head.

 

2. Bon Iver – Bon Iver

We all know the story about Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon abandoning society and embracing heartbreak to write his debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago. In his sophomore, self-titled effort, he abandons his solitary gig and invites friends. The result is a staggering. Layers of sound and instrument float in and out tracks, all supported by Vernon’s ghostly falsetto. The album has great depth, both musically and lyrically. Vernon writes in a kind of stunted, ambiguous, and image-rich style that any Modernist poet would be proud of. This vagueness is countered, curiously, by his song titles; many of them are references to places, either specific (Minnesota, WI, Calgary) or imaginary (Hinnom, TX). Always an enigma, Justin Vernon and Bon Iver manage to create one of the best albums of the year, a slice of sonic beauty that everyone should hear.
For fans of: having to chew your music before you swallow it

 

1. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues

Every time I listen to Fleet Foxes, I want to go outside. Whether rain or shine, sun or snow, the images conjured up by Robin Pecknold and Co. make me want to run outdoors. It’s not that the songs are specifically about nature in a literal sense. They tend to be tiny snapshots of a moment in time, captured flawlessly in the mood of the music and the language of the lyrics. The songs propel me into the open because they’re full of life. They’re full of the kinds of soaring melodies, fantastic imagery, and heartfelt lyricism that seem bigger than oneself. In the title song, Pecknold sings about how we’re raised believing being unique and self-serving is the best way to live. In the same verse, however, he sings: “And now, after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be/A functioning cog in some great machinery, serving something beyond me.” This is the great triumph of Helplessness Blues; it’s an album that functions as something greater than the sum of its individual parts. It’s about life, and why we’re living it.
For fans of: honest and life-affirming folk music, crazy awesome harmonies

Well, that’s the list. Definitely pick up or listen to these albums. If you’re cheap, they can all be found on Spotify. If you find me on there, I have a playlist which contains a couple songs from each album. Check it out here: Best Albums of 2011.

Published in: on January 11, 2012 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Moneyball

You can always tell a sports movie. They have a certain kind of mindset, and a checklist of problems, solutions, struggles, and successes. A lot of these items are a matter of heart, injected into the film to give it a personal perspective that purely watching sports doesn’t provide. In Moneyball, these are stories of struggles between David and Goliath, between wealth and family, between a man and himself. Despite the familiar, humanistic approach, Moneyball isn’t about the heart. It’s about money, business, and the inevitable struggle of a new idea. That’s what’s interesting about the film; in addition to the usual sports cliches, it adds a layer of urgency and interest through the business of baseball. Director Bennett Miller also uses his resources well, allowing Brad Pitt to take command and Jonah Hill to amuse.

First and foremost, Moneyball is a film about business. Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) is the embattled General Manager of the Oakland A’s, upset and trapped by the loss of three of his star players. How can Oakland compete in the Major Leagues, with a tiny budget and teams like the Boston Red Sox poaching their best players? Enter Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a recent Yale economics graduate and baseball fanatic. He’s devised a way, based on statistical analysis alone, to buy cheap, effective players, ones rejected by other teams for one reason or another. For example, the new A’s pitcher went unsigned because he “threw funny.” The building of this new team turns out to be quite a fascinating process. Obscure statistics and baseball terms are constantly referenced, but Moneyball does a good job of keeping us in the loop. We see Beane make tough decisions and upset people, notably the coach of the A’s, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and the scouts, all traditionalists of baseball and highly skeptical of this new and largely lifeless way of fielding a team. They seem to be threatened, but rightfully so, given that their jobs are being replaced by equations. In addition, the players are reduced down to numbers on a page, decimals and percentages. Everyone is affected by this change, and consequently swept up in the momentum of the idea, whether they like it or not. The urgency of the film isn’t caught up in personal relationships; rather, it’s determined by the question of whether or not this radical plan will work. When Moneyball defaults to personal relationships, as between Beane and his daughter, it comes off as ancillary to what’s really at stake. This reliance on old sports cliches muddles the vision of the film, and adds little more than a slight three-dimensionality to Brad Pitt’s character.

Despite the missteps, Brad Pitt is still the anchor of the film. He seems extremely at ease in the role of Billy Beane, the quick-talking General Manager of the Oakland A’s. Beane was a Major League flop, as we learn in flashbacks throughout the course of the film, and Pitt portrays this burden well. We see that both his business decisions and relationships are affected by ghosts of his past. It’s nuances such as this that make Beane interesting. Pitt embodies the role, and gives his character the depth it needs to drive the film forward.

Jonah Hill brings a needed charm and warmth to the film in the form of the young assistant Peter Brand. He’s often the source for laughs, of which there are plenty. Usually accustomed to playing comedic roles, Hill successfully adapts his talents to the more dramatic Moneyball. He doesn’t lose his sarcastic edge, but rather adds to it; Peter Brand is a naive youngster, in his “first job anywhere,” and this adds to his appeal, and the charisma of the film in general.

And what an agreeable film Moneyball is. There are no lives or miracles at stake. It’s simply the defense of an idea, of a business and a new way of doing things. Lives won’t be ruined by the outcome, at least not that we can see. It’s easy to root for Billy Beane and his radical methods, because even if he fails there’s not far to fall. Although the film plays it safe and falls prey to some typical sports movie characteristics, Moneyball does well in making the portrayal of new ideas the driving force of the movie. It invests us in an idea rather than a person, and this, along with a pair of enjoyable leading roles by Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill, give the film a heart, allowing Moneyball to break free from genre standards and successfully stand on its own two legs.

Grade: B

Published in: on September 26, 2011 at 6:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Drive

What makes a hero? If comic books are to be believed, a hero is someone who can fly, someone to fight evil wherever it exists. If we listen to the news, heroes are soldiers, policemen, and firefighters, men who risk their lives for the common good. We never hear, though, about the heroes that slip through the cracks. The men without clear motivations. The ones that aren’t battling nefarious criminals or working towards a better society. It’s in this gray area that Drive and its nameless hero, the Driver, exist. We don’t know who he is or where he came from, and he doesn’t care to tell us; we only see what he does over the course of 100 minutes. He never tells us why he’s doing what he’s doing, but somehow, in the end, we understand why. Ryan Gosling’s subtle performance as the Driver gives the film, and director Nicholas Winding Refn, the power to be fearless.

The story seems simple enough: the Driver falls for his neighbor, Irene (Carey Mulligan), and must protect her from the gangsters whom her husband once worked with. It’s an ultra-violent tale, as most films including gangsters seem to be, but it doesn’t revel in its viciousness. Nor does it make any apologies; characters are beaten, stabbed, and shot with regularity. It doesn’t matter who they are, or how important they are to the story. There are no lingering, dramatic deaths or second chances. Director Refn dives straight into the action, and straight out again, treating important moments in the film as minor detours along the way. The film itself is cruising, speeding from beginning to end. Seemingly unimportant moments, such as the Driver seeing Irene in a grocery store, take up as much screen time as the death of a major character. Refn’s decision to keep the film moving is among his most important. It gives the film a momentum that few recent films have enjoyed, creating a magnetism that keeps eyes glued to the screen.

Ryan Gosling is the other reason you can’t look away. His character, the Driver, is a definite departure from the emotional, indie-friendly roles he’s played in the past. His dialogue is sparse, and when he speaks it’s usually in the sort of terse, short sentences found in early film noir. Sometimes he answers questions with only a nod or a blank stare. It’s brave of the director to center a story around such an ambiguous character, but Gosling delivers a powerful performance.

It’s unclear throughout most of the film what the Driver’s motivation for helping Irene actually is. Does he love her? Perhaps, but that begs the question of why. He’s only known her for a few days, and she’s married. Is it for Irene’s kid, Benicio? Again, it’s hard to say. The Driver spends time with Benicio, but never seems overly concerned with him emotionally. The mystery of why the Driver assists Irene isn’t one that can be solved using logic. It’s a connection that exists through emotion. We’re never told why the Driver is helping Irene, but it’s something we gradually begin to understand.

This visceral quality is what really makes Drive work. The film isn’t something you can work out in your head; it’s all internalized. It’s like that mysterious feeling you sometimes get when driving your car, when the weather and the music and the mood all seem to click. The feeling is nothing you can plan or explain, but it’s something we all can relate to. Drive isn’t a film that gives you the answers or tells you how to feel. You’re presented only with the concept of the Driver; it’s up to you to do the rest.

Grade: A-

Published in: on September 18, 2011 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Help

There’s something about The Help that seems too clean, too perfectly shaped and trimmed along the edges. The film, adapted from the 2009 novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett, is, among other things, about racism and inequality in the Deep South. These heavy themes of racial injustice have a long history of invoking the wrath of pontificating critics, especially when the issues are skirted over or given an outside voice, as Kathryn Stockett did in her novel. But, as far as I’m aware, authors are allowed to project whatever voice they wish, and while perhaps there are flaws in the vision and message of The Help, this doesn’t make it a bad film. Rather, The Help is a film full of interesting characters and a driving plot, a movie that takes controversial themes and packages them into a neat, shiny package with a ribbon on top.

The Help is set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. This is a time when segregation was in full swing, and where the Jim Crow laws were the law of the land. The South, and Mississippi in particular, were seen in terms of black and white. African-Americans, and African-American women in particular, were faced with very limited opportunities. Aibileen Clark, in a sublime performance from Viola Davis, is hired help for a family of Southern genteel. She takes care of the cooking, cleaning, and upbringing of the family’s young daughter. We learn that this young girl is the seventeenth white baby she has taken care of, and although her tired voice and weathered demeanor may suggest otherwise, Aibileen clearly cares for the young child. Therein lies the unfortunate circumstance in the lives of these lifelong maids; they nurture these young children until they’re old enough to realize the difference between being black and white, at which point the relationship abruptly turns from one of mutual care to one of master and servant. These complicated relationships between the maids and their employers forms the backbone of The Help.

Kathryn Stockett, the author of the 2009 novel this film was based on, received a lot of criticism for The Help’s portrayal of life from a black maid’s point of view. The dialogue, critics pointed out, was especially incriminating: the maids used an exaggerated Southern dialect, and the white characters did not. Thankfully, this criticism falls flat in the film, as the venerable talent of Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer (who plays the spunky Minny Jackson) provide a burst of charisma to the screen. The film shines when the spotlight is trained on the subtle eye movements of Davis, or the impeccable comic timing of Spencer. The cast is what makes the film enjoyable, and alongside Davis and Spencer lie more noteworthy performances from Emma Stone, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Jessica Chastain.

Although the film is entertaining, it seems to lack a little depth. The complicated issue of racial inequality is made as neat and unoffensive as the Southern Belles that populate the screen. The Help politely takes the stand of detached-yet-concerned observer, hoping to avoid controversy by sacrificing its voice. This, however, is exactly why the film so controversial. Using a sensitive issue such as race to drive a movie which, at its core, is not about race is a risky move. The film takes place in a bubble of its own niceness, and is watered down as a result.

The Help is a good film, a fun film, and a safe film. It’s a movie that is carried by its cast, with especially solid performances from Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer. Director Tate Taylor chooses to play it safe here, and brings his audience a view of 1960s Mississippi that is careful not to tread on any toes. The characters in The Help may have opinions about what is happening in the film, but the film itself does not. For the feel-good movie of the summer, look no further.

Grade: B

Published in: on August 31, 2011 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

30 Minutes or Less

There’s something about comedies that changes immensely when you’re in a room full of other people. Jokes seem funnier, amplified by the laughter of those around you. That laughter is contagious, but when it’s lacking, the silence is contagious too. In the case of 30 Minutes or Less, the new film from Ruben Fleischer (who also directed Zombieland), the silence of the theater was a too often a indication that the movie didn’t work. It’s too bad the film is only a small step up from the type of crude, low-brow humor usually reserved for the annual “comedic satire” movie (Date Movie, Epic Movie, etc.), because the talented cast of stalwart comedians promised a film that could have been so much more.

The plot is a clever one. Two bumbling buddies coerce a pizza delivery guy into robbing a bank by strapping a bomb to his chest. He has ten hours to come up with the cash they need, or else the bomb will explode. It’s an interesting idea with a lot of comic potential, but it’s also placed under a heavy burden: most of the jokes in the film are a direct riff off of the sheer incredulity of the plot. “Oh no, there’s a bomb on my chest! How crazy and dangerous!” is most often the joke of choice. They include bringing a bomb to a school, bringing a bomb to see a girlfriend, bringing a bomb to a gun fight, bringing a bomb too close to your friend, etc. I could go on. The variety of comedy is tragically small, given the immense talent and range of the cast. The jokes become less funny over the course of the film, and, at times, 30 Minutes or Less just tries too hard to make us laugh.

The actors in the movie, while entertaining, seem to be playing less interesting versions of characters they’ve played before. Take Danny McBride, for example. His character in 30 Minutes of Less, Dwayne, is a beer drinking, stripper loving, naive, selfish burnout. He’s played this role before,  as Kenny Powers in the HBO show Eastbound and Down, so you know he’s capable. As Dwayne, however, he falls flat. He’s playing a parody of another character, and it’s obvious that the writers have fallen into the common fallacy of getting their ideas from a secondhand source. A caricature of a caricature, if you will. Many of the characters in the film seem to be working this way, and, as a result, don’t seem as accessible or genuine as they should be.

One of the funniest moments in the film occurs near the very end. The audience was still laughing as the credits started to roll, and, as a result, were tricked into believing the movie was better than it is. The positive buzz generated by the ending, however, is not enough to dispel the obvious lack of laughter that occurred in too many moments throughout the film. The best comedies seem effortless, and 30 Minutes or Less is a movie that tries too hard, too often.

Grade: C+

Published in: on August 16, 2011 at 3:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Watch the Throne

Jay Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne

To put it simply, Watch the Throne is just two friends having fun. Granted, these friends are two of the most popular and influential musicians of the past decade, which makes it nigh impossible to approach the album objectively. To say expectations were high would be an understatement. That expectation, unfortunately, seems to seep through to many of the tracks on Watch the Throne, a confusing jumble of gross narcissism, bombastic production, and, sometimes, earnest songwriting. You can tell that Jay Z and Kanye West are enjoying themselves here, but this enjoyment somehow doesn’t translate to their audience. They knew what we expected, recorded it, and had fun along the way.

The album begins with “No Church in the Wild.” It’s the first track, but also a good one with which to compare the rest of the album. The moderate pace, smooth synths, and simple-yet-driving bass beat typify many of the other songs on Watch the Throne. It feels a little forced, and a lot uninspired. Much like the many of the other songs on the album, Jay Z and Kanye’s verses are nothing more than adequate, and never a driving force. This trend continues into the second song, “Lift Off.” It features a glorious chorus sung by Beyonce, rapping in 3/4 time, horns, pianos, and everything you’d want in hip-hop. Yet even though all the ingredients are there, it still fails to land, due to the dull presence of Jay Z and Kanye. They’re superstars, but somehow fall short of their own image. We see them as the rulers of hip hop, and, as the title of the album suggests, that’s how they see themselves. It’s this disconnect, this self-absorbed, self-interested mindset that damages not only their accessibility, but their music. We all love a champion, someone that’s larger-than-life, yet when that champion realizes who he is and what he holds, the illusion falls away. What we’re left with is how Jay Z and Kanye West present themselves on most of this album: a couple of mega-rich, important, self-proclaimed kings. The flaws are gone, along with what made their music so exciting in the first place.

That’s not to say that Watch the Throne doesn’t have its gems, though. The album’s lead sing “Otis,” while not a huge step forward, is catchy and unique, capturing the soulful aspect of the respective artists’ previous work. The track works because Jay Z and Kanye West work, spitting out verses one after the other and forcing themselves into the spotlight. The song’s hook threatens to take over, but Jay and Ye never let it do so. Another track that stands out is “New Day.” Like “Otis,” the focus this time is more on rapping, and the lyrical content takes over. It contains some of the most honest verses on the album, with Kanye and Jay Z taking turns telling about how they would treat their future sons. Lyrics like “I just want him to have an easy life, not like Yeezy life/Just want him to be someone people like” show a side of Kanye that we’ve rarely seen before, especially on Watch the Throne. The view inside their minds becomes a lot more interesting than what they choose to show of their lives outside.

The expectation was impossibly high, but instead of rising to meet the challenge, Jay Z and Kanye West shrank back into what was comfortable and what was fun. Many of the tracks are eye-rollingly, head-shakingly self-important, and, frankly, uninspired. As a whole, Watch the Throne doesn’t live up to the hype, but among the mediocre you can find some real moments of hip-hop magic. Watch the Throne is definitely worth listening to, if just for the experience of a Jay Z and Kanye West collaboration, yet in the end seems to fall a little short of what both artists have proven they’re capable of.

Grade: B-

For Fans Of: swag, synths, smugness, soul

Published in: on August 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

It’s a rare film that’s marketed to look dumber than it actually is. This is the case with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a movie whose trailer contained nothing more than James Franco and riotous monkeys, a grievous understatement of what the film is actually about. Perhaps Hollywood deemed the material too heavy-handed, or decided that a film starring human-like animals wouldn’t perform well at the box office. Either way, the posters and trailers for this movie do little to emphasize its intelligent relationships, emotional resonance, and smart use of technology. As hard as the Hollywood tries to convince you, this is no Transformers; it’s much, much better.

Throughout much of the film, we follow Caesar (Andy Serkis), an ape rescued as a baby from a testing lab and raised by Will Rodman (James Franco). Caesar has, as a result of genetically engineered virus, vastly increased intelligence. We see him growing in the Rodman household, solving puzzles, communicating with Will, and joyously swinging around the household. There’s no doubt that Caesar is the focus here, despite big names such as Franco and John Lithgow appearing in the film. Much of the time onscreen is spent exploring the emotions of this ape. Yes, an ape is the star of this movie, and his story rings surprisingly true. It’s one of the outsider, the loner who never found, or was denied, a place in society. The archetype has been explored many times, but never has an animal, much less a digitally created one, been so intriguing and accessible to audiences. In fact, the last digitally created creature that was as interesting as Caesar was Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, also played by Serkis. He’s truly a master of the motion capture, a man whose face is rarely seen in films, but whose performances are enjoyed by millions. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Serkis steals the show here. His portrayal of Caesar contains more depth and emotion than any of the other actors in the film, and he does all of this without any verbal communication. The spoken word is a powerful medium, but, even without this, Serkis creates a powerful performance through subtle gestures, such as a furrowed eyebrow or a delicate touch.

The ability to truly capture Andy Serkis’ performance is a testament to the advancement of technology within the last decade. Weta Digital, the team behind The Lord of the Rings and Avatar, struck digital gold once again. I’ve read that the motion capture technology has evolved to the point that they can do all of the shooting on location, whereas before, every motion capture shot was done in a studio in front of a green screen. This allows for more accurate filmmaking, and that difference is apparent in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The apes look spectacular, yet they sometimes cross over into the uncanny valley, a place where non-quite-human replicas cause discomfort among viewers. Some of the digitally created apes can look too realistic, taking on an unnatural state to the audience. This isn’t always the case, and with the genuinely believable performance by Serkis, is rarely so. It’s refreshing to see visual effects used for more than brainless entertainment, as has been the case with many of the movies released this summer. Special effects were created as a way to draw the reader into the story, not alienate him with emotionless action. Besides from a few unnecessary scenes near the end of the film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes gets this just right.

I walked into Rise of the Planet of the Apes feeling a little apprehensive and skeptical, but I left feeling entertained. The film has the right blend of storytelling and technology, which they use to compliment and challenge each other. The film would fall apart without either, but with both becomes one of the better movies I’ve seen this summer.

Grade: B+

Published in: on August 8, 2011 at 6:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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