James Franco

SUMMER '11 GOES ON -- I should have known when last our last column was headlined Summer's Over, more than a few heated replies would come out way. None more so than from our good friend Anthony Pomes (and, Monkee-source) at Square One publishers in Long Island. He immediately took issue with the fact that we didn't even mention Rise Of The Planet of the Apes; which stands as the second-imagining of the classic Planet of the Apes movie (with Charlton Heston). Director Tim Burton (always a stellar director in my book) took a stab in 2001 with his version with Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Roth. This newest installment look positively chilling; even if James Franco's presence looks a tad unnerving and Andy Serkis , as Caesar, the chosen ape, equally disturbing. Directed by Rupert Wyatt, it looks exactingly engaging. I really enjoyed Burton's take and on the first few viewing's of the trailer, this newest one looks somewhat similar to Burton's tone. Based on the novel by Pierre Boulle, the first movie debuted in 1968 and immediately riveted the public with it's ominous themes of the apes taking the planet. In retrospect, it had a little bit of everything: sci-fi; an against the grain lead character (Franklin) in Heston; and, enough character-actors (Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, and James Whitmore) to keep the tone consistently interesting and the plot moving forward. Face it, with Maurice Evans as the voice-of-reason, ape-wise, (Dr. Zaius) how could it go wrong? For those not-in-the-know, Evans, might best be described as an early-version of Everyman Morgan Freeman. The climatic ending: when Heston's character is finally surrounded and about-to-be-captured, Dr. Zaius relents and lets him go, with the ominous warning of "you might not like what you find" - whichwas positively-jaw dropping. Heston's travels bring him to a beachhead where the head of the Statue of Liberty rests. Heston posits what happened and curses the political and government prowess out loud. An amazing ending if there ever was one ... and, don't forget this was 1968. I remember seeing it at a theater in Baldwin, Long Island, and it left me poaitively stone-cold sober. Chilling! Believe it or not, eight sequels followed; each one a bit sillier than the last, with less and less of the original cast present, but it was one of the biggest series ever and it showed Hollywood doing what they do best. So, to re-capture that lightning in a bottle, has been an ongoing task in Hollywood for quite some time. Anthony Pomes points out a fact that I was not even aware of: This newest film is a prequel to the 1968 original ...which, the more I consider it, is a brilliant move; to show the events leading up to the so-called original. An interesting take for sure. A quick glance at IMDB reveals that actor Tyler Labine plays a character named Franklin; the name of Heston's character. I am even more excited to see it now, as the bravura performance by Heston in that first film made it what it was. I don't know if a less convincing actor would have made the film work; you hate him at times for the decisions he had to make, but feel pity and sorrow too. Genetic testing ... never a good idea! We did manage to reference the second-part of the final Harry Potter movie coming on 7/15; but, we also left out, sadly, the re-booted Captain America: First Avenger movie literally coming in days. Featuring Chris Evans in the titular role (not to mention the outstanding Hugo Weaving as Cap's nemesis The Red Skull) it looks very, very strong. Tommy Lee Jones, Hayley Atwell, and the always dependable StanleyTucci, round out the stronger-than-usual cast. As a Marvel-comic book reader growing up, all these comic-con movies have intrigued me to no end, as the public's thirst seems to be stronger than ever. The three Spider Man movies with Toby Maguire literally made billions, and, the current-in-the-works re-boot seem destined for the same financial success. This Captain America movie is interesting already as Evans has already starred in two movies about another Marvel-franchise The Fantastic Four as Johnny Storm, The Human Torch. He rather successfully essayed the character, but when he was chosen to play Cap, there was some question as to whether the comic-book-cognoscenti would already view him as The Torch. Interesting question. I really don't have an answer although every time I've seen the trailer or poster, I have immediately thought of the FF-movies. One other comic thought: The question of just who is the biggest character in the Marvel-Universe has always resonated with me ... and, others. Personally, I've always liked The Avengers (and, their own movie with Cap, Thor, Iron Man, The Black Widow, Hawkeye, and The Hulk will be out next year); Spider Man was pretty revolutionary too ... but, I think in the long run, it's been Captain America. And, I don't think I'm along. That said, there's a lot riding on this one ... and, I think it's going to be good.


Micky Dolenz

HEY HEY MARTY --- The self-proclaimed Mayor of Brooklyn Marty Markowitz (relax, he's only really the Borough President) rolls out his concert-series next week at Coney Island, starting with Joan Jett on the 14th; the Monkees on 7/21, Mary Wilson on 7/28; Cheap Trick on 8-18. We went out last year to see the Happy Together tour and had a ball; a bit of a lengthy subway ride from NYC, but definitely worth it. Check the site out.

ALSO: While we're in a music-mood: Micky Dolenz starts his solo-concert tour the very next night after Coney Island, 7/22 at Tanner Park in Copiague, Long Island ; and Dayme at Spike Hill in Williamsburg on 7/13.

Photos By: RD/Kirkland/Sharma/Retna