Friday Flicks: Should We Beat Our Chest for ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’?

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Grab some popcorn! NewsFeed’s Glen Levy brings you the movies you should check out (or avoid) this weekend.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Tagline: Evolution Becomes Revolution

It seems like yesterday that Tim Burton was remaking Planet of the Apes, but it’s actually been 10 years since he set to work on the Charlton Heston cult classic. In Hollywood terms then, that’s a lifetime ago, which is why we shouldn’t be at all surprised by this latest reimagining (or whichever term you prefer to employ), which goes by the name of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

James Franco, who must have been delighted by the gig because you never see him pop up in anything these days, is the San Francisco based scientist Will Rodman. His genetically enhanced pet project, Caesar (Andy Serkis, who reprises the motion-capture work he did for Peter Jackson’s King Kong and The Lord of the Rings), has just about had enough of his dreary daily routine and turns into a revolutionary style figure, in order to get like-minded apes to overthrow their human masters. You know, the usual kind of thing that takes place in the lab (at the movies).

(PHOTOS: A Brief History of the Planet of the Apes Franchise)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes can be seen as being understandably torn between straddling the tradition of the original and its numerous sequels (in so much that it wants to be taken seriously as a piece of drama) but also recognizes that technology plays such an integral part nowadays that the franchise’s trademark move of using makeup just ain’t gonna cut it. And so the apes are done with CGI (by the effects team behind Avatar, no less, and they look stunning) but director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) may be having his cake and eating it: early reviews are praising the movie in its own right and not merely focusing on the effects.

Caesar looks like being the fans’ favorite of the year, to say nothing of his recruiting of Maurice the orangutan, who knows sign language, and Rocket the chimp. And don’t be surprised if the groundswell of opinion is such that a bona fide campaign to get Serkis an Oscar nomination begins in earnest and won’t stop until Serkis is beating his chest in delight next year.

(LIST: Planet of the Apes in the top 10 long-running movie franchises)

The Change-Up

Tagline: Who Says Men Can’t Change?

Planet of the Apes films might be fairly frequent, but it’s nothing compared to the juggernaut that is Jason Bateman. He appears in so many movies that even James Franco is on the verge of becoming jealous. His Horrible Bosses is still in theaters, but time waits for no man, and so now The Change-Up is upon us.

Bateman plays Dave, the oh-so-happily married man who has the perfect wife, Jamie (Leslie Mann), kids who love him and a high-flying job. But he happens to swap bodies (it’s easier to go with it, especially when you see how it’s done) with his womanizing bachelor pal Mitch (Ryan Reynolds, who has lines like “I have to make her cry first but it’s worth it” and needs to figure out if this is truly the kind of part he wants to portray on a regular basis).

Do not be shocked if both characters ultimately discover that their lives aren’t making them as happy as they originally thought. “It’s just the stupidest thing ever,” said Reynolds in a recent interview, “but it’s all in the execution.”

And that execution is key: the marketing folks are acutely aware that by slapping “From the director of Wedding Crashers and the writers of The Hangover” on the poster (which crucially contains attractive women and babies, thus supposedly appealing to both sexes), they’re all but guaranteed a healthy opening weekend for this type of R-rated movie. And those Hangover scribes, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, only worked on the original, not the sloppy sequel, which should mean that a certain amount of quality control is on show. But – and we can’t quite believe we’re saying this – you may want to watch a different double act, Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan, in their version of Freaky Friday instead.

(MORE: TIME’s review of Horrible Bosses)

NewsFeed’s Flicks Pick: Rise of the Planet of the Apes might turn out to be the surprise of the summer.

Glen Levy is an Executive Producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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