Sunday, August 07, 2011

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

Year: 2011
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Andy Serkis, David Hewlett

Plot: This film is an origin story to the Planet Of The Apes franchise, which focuses on Caesar, a chimpanzee raised by Will Rodman, a scientist experimenting on apes to find a cure for Alzheimer's. Caesar's superior intelligence eventually enables him to become the leader of an uprising of the apes against their human oppressors.

Review: I don't know why most people hated Tim Burton's remake of Planet Of The Apes, I thought it was cool. Sure, the social commentary of Burton's version is weaker compared to the 1968 original, but the cast did well, especially Tim Roth, who is still very unrecognizable under General Thade's chimp makeup.

Rupert Wyatt's film though, is a prequel of sorts. We don't start in the future, but in the present, as we see Will Rodman desperately try to find a cure for Alzheimer's in order to save his father, whose condition is deteriorating rapidly. This premise is a lot similar to Deep Blue Sea, except in that film, instead of apes, we have sharks, and that film was an action thriller whereas Rise is a sci-fi drama.

But sci-fi films normally gets dull unless you throw in some excitement, and this comes in the form of apes engaging humans in some fisticuffs. We've always viewed apes as animals, and because of that, they can be seen as unpredictable and dangerous, and Wyatt does a splendid job presenting that. The apes here, despite being mostly CGI motion capture by human actors, are very realistic, fascinating and scary at the same time. You could almost feel like they can snap at any given moment and beat the crap out of you. All the shit finally hits the fan in the film's climax when Caesar leads an army of apes against the police. The sequence on the Golden Gate bridge is awesomely shot and executed, in particular.

James Franco gets the role of Will Rodman, but any hope of him recapturing the same brilliance he showed in 127 Hours here is slim. Franco's performance is inconsistent at best, but then again his role is pretty much by the numbers, you can predict how his character will play out to the end. Freida Pinto is severely wasted here, and serves to be nothing more than Will's love interest. John Lithgow however is impressive as Will's Alzheimer's stricken father, and really succeeds in gaining the audience's sympathy for him. Tom Felton plays a primate facility guard who's even meaner than Draco Malfoy, and even gets to say the classic Charlton Heston line, but the line wasn't even necessary, and overall I don't think he brought anything outstanding to the role. Then again, it's not his fault, the villains in this story are rather two dimensional.

The real star of the film is Andy Serkis, who does the motion capture acting for Caesar, and as a result, Caesar looks very impressive on screen. You'll love him and be afraid of him at the same time, and eventually you'll be rooting for him towards the end of the film. Thumbs up to Serkis for a job well done.

Overall, Rise is a valiant attempt to make its own stand amongst the Planet Of The Apes films, but it still pales in comparison to the original. I do hope they will make more instalments after this one, judging by the post credits scene. (3.5/5)

P.S.: See how many nods to the original you can spot throughout the film.

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