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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Review - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Today I am pleased to bring you a guest post by Xakara, one of the authors of the Beyond the Veil blog. As some of you know, I was recently invited to be part of Beyond the Veil. Xakara is a talented and imaginative author as well as being a social media and marketing specialist, and I am pleased to share her review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Enjoy!

My Two Cents ~ Rise of the Planet of the Apes, A Review
by Xakara

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, starring James Franco and Andy Serkis, rose to #1 at the box office it’s opening weekend with a gross of $54 million—almost $20 million more than the projected estimates, and it earned every penny!

The effects were simply amazing. There is no point where you’re left to doubt Caesar is anything but a large, powerful, frightenly intelligent chimpanzee. The world is believable from the first frame and never wavers. But I fear that the emphasis will be on the effects for the movie while overlooking what those effects made way for in the end.

Andy Serkis is absolutely brilliant in his motion capture performance as Caesar. You feel for the adolescent ape as he comes to terms with his peculiar and unique position as an intelligent ape in modern San Francisco. Facial motion capture and peerless digitial rendering means that every thought to pass behind Caesar’s eyes and every emotion to take his face is viscerally understood by the viewer as if it were your own.

James Franco is subtle and engaging as the earnest Dr. Will Rodman. His research is inspired by his ailing father, played by John Lithgow in a vulnerable and touching portrayal of a brilliant and talented man suffering with Alzheimer’s. As revealed in the promotional commercials, Caesar is taken in by Will after an incident at the facility and he rounds out the family, ultimately named by Will’s father who’s found of Shakespeare. Years pass in this loving environment and Caesar thrives, but his future trials are event from the beginning as he tries to express himself more like the human child his advanced intelligence makes him resemble.

The vast cast of apes and their human motion capture performers, immediately gain your sympathy and despite the ultimate endgame, you can’t help but root for them in every scene. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is analogous to the original Conquest of the Planet of the Apes as far as being an origin story, but this is not a remake. Rise is a complete reinterpretation and one that shows the dangers of science beside the wonders.

Many pre-release write up mention genetic engineering at the root of Rise, this is disingenuous. Caesar is not engineered, nor is engineering a smarter ape even remotely the focus of the Dr. Rodman’s research. A retrovirus is developed to repair brain function in those that have suffered through disease and injury. When it’s introduced into a healthy primate brain, it becomes so much more.

With a run-time of 110 minutes, Rise could have been twenty minutes longer, revealing even more of Caesar’s interactions with his fellow apes and Will’s anguish in being separated from him. Tom Felton of Harry Potter fame, is wasted as Dodge Landon, a cruel man-child caretaker at a disreputable primate shelter. He would have been better utilized as Robert Franklin, the primate specialist at the facility. Not that I would have put Tyler Labine out of job, he was wonderful as the compassionate technician. It would have simply been a refreshing casting change to see Felton in a good guy role.

All in all Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a wonderful summer film, filled with action and emotion, as well as beautiful effects that pull you in and hold you tight for the ride. And there you have my two cents on it!


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thomas said...

I completely agree, I just wish the the James Franco character had told ceasar he loved him it's the only thing about the movie that i think is lacking.

Xakara said...

Yes, the relationship between Will and Caesar ran deep and verbalization of that would have been appreciated.


A. Catherine Noon said...

Thanks for a wonderful review, Xakara! I didn't really want to see this film from the previews, because it seemed very violent and loud. I saw one of the original movies at far too young an age and it really deeply frightened me; so I have a delicate relationship to the idea of the story.

That said, I just heard an interview of Andy Serkis on NPR's radio programme "Fresh Air". He's always impressed me, since I saw him in the Lord of the Rings and King Kong; his description of his preparation intrigued me.

Your review has tipped the scales. I like your description of the story and of how the change is caused by a well-meaning person and not the usual Hollywood faceless and soulless scientist out for the aggrandizement of his own ego and who cares nothing for society or people. Your description of Franco's character make me want to see his performance. I also didn't realize that Tom Felton is in the film; the fact that he's there will be an interesting note. I like your point about him; it will be interesting to watch for what you're taking about.

Thanks again for taking the time to write such a thorough, fair-minded and enticing review. Love it!

Debbie Cairo said...

Thanks Xakara, I wasn't going to see this movie because I figured it was yet another of a long line of remakes. You've given me something to think about and I might just check it out (rhyme unintentional)