Weekend movies: Great reviews for “Apes,” “Boyhood,” weak ones for smaller releases

palomaThe tomatometer for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” confirms it is the best of the summer popcorn pictures. I must confess, that 94% or so number suggests an ecstatic enthusiasm which Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t actually measure. So go to Metacritic.

A good film, a sci-fi commentary on race (as all these films have been, dating back to the first), culture, pacifism and violence, the story is pedestrian in the extreme, and the poor humans are out-acted by digital mo-cap apes.

“Boyhood” is one of the two or three best films of the summer, a moving, engrossing catalog of life’s passages from age 6-18, Richard Linklater’s film also tracks the ebb and flow of adult lives — mistakes made, again and again. Problems are solved, rites of passage suggested and a boy grows up to be an interesting young man. Reviews reflect this towering achievement. Hopefully, it’ll open at a theater near you soon.

“Land Ho!” is the best of the other indie fare, a mild-mannered comedy co-starring the lead from “This is Martin Bonner.” Cute old guys, funny bits, tender moments and lots of Icelandic scenery. Ask for it at a theater near you.

I rather liked “A Long Way Down,” but I like any film adapted from a Nick “High Fidelity” novel. It may make light of suicide, at times. And Pierce Brosnan’s character’s crime (sex with a nubile but underage teen) is glossed over.

But this is a good cast that plays the comedy and the emotional moments with great sympathy — Toni Collette, Imogen Poots, Aaron Paul co-star. Weak reviews, overall, for this one.

“Road to Paloma” is a conventionally unconventional biker picture from Jason Momoa. A Native American on the run from the law through the desert Southwest makes a great story for great cinematography, which this film features. The performances aren’t bad and the stock characters have an added Native American edge — some of them. Wes Studi and Lisa Bonet are also in it. Weak reviews for this one, too.

Ron Howard’s attempt to get current with “Today’s music” is his Jay Z and friends “MAde in America” documentary, which won’t play very widely. Only snippets of Jay Z, Pearl Jam and The Hives” (among many) songs are included, and the backstage stuff is less interesting than Howard thought. Not terrible, but not a destination film, in those few destinations where it’s playing.

Nicolas Cage betrays his general poor choice in role selection with “Rage,” a movie that could undo the promise that “Joe” held, that he’d be more selective about these no-budget features he keeps making as his Hollywood career winds down. Terrible reviews, as usual.

 

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