August 17, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes AMC Loews 34th Street 14

 

Mike: As a massive Planet of the Apes fan, I made a rare exception and caught the 12:01 a.m. screening of Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Thursday night/Friday morning. I just couldn't wait.
In my mind, the best place to catch a 12:01 Thursday night screening in Manhattan is the AMC Empire. This is where the biggest fans tend to congregate, and you see the film with a lively, appreciative audience. Unfortunately, the bike parking in Times Square is lacking. There are a handful places to lock up within a few blocks' radius, but you always have to look for them, and leaving my bike there just makes me nervous. It's too busy and I want to minimize the odds of coming back to a vandalized bike at 2:30 a.m.
 
So my first choice was Kips Bay. There are bike racks right in front of the theater, it's well-lit, and very quiet. And Kips Bay is one of the safest neighborhoods in Manhattan. You'll spot a few vagrants here, but I guess they tend to behave themselves. But I was meeting up with a friend who was on the other end and for whom Kips Bay was not convenient, so I ended up going to the AMC Loews 34th Street 14, which also has easy, convenient bike parking right outside.
 
We've written about the audiences at this theater before. Whereas Apes fans were likely to be at the Empire, the 34th Street 14 attracted people who were there just to watch shit explode. I think the theater was packed less because people were excited about seeing this specific movie, but more because there was a new action movie opening with a convenient midnight starting time.
 
Before the movie started, I got the feeling that I was on the planet of the apes. There were people jumping from the tops of seats to railings to the floor and back. People were noisy, yelling, cackling and rowdy, and attracted to colorful bright little lights (smart phones in human) from which they just couldn't divert their eyes for more than a minute.
 
Thankfully, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has an interesting story with engaging characters (the simian ones, at least), so much so that shortly after the movie started the audience hushed and quieted down like toddlers in the bosom of a caring mother. They were rivited, on the edge of their seats, and shut the hell up. It's the power of great filmmaking.
 
Rise is Rupert Wyatt's second film. I saw his first outing The Escapist about two years ago. It was one of those simultaneous theatrical and VOD releases, but it sounded interesting enough to me to shell out 12 bucks and see it on the big screen. While I absolutely hated the ending, the rest of the film was so damn great that The Escapist made it to #2 on my 2009 top 10 list. Combine that with the fact that I'm a humongous Planet of the Apes fan (especially Beneath), and it should be clear that I was really looking forward to the film. Rise of the Planet of the Apes lived up to my expectations. It's such a fun film, with a fascinating performance from Andy Serkis. And unlike most other franchise films of late, the film is well-contained and doesn't overdo it with sequel-setup. I hope Rupert Wyatt will take full advantage of his much-deserved, Nolan-like welcome to Hollywood.

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