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Rise of the Planet of the Apes:
The title itself is a mouthful to say but the film isn’t your typical action blockbuster laden with visual effects. The visual effects themselves do justice to the film, a step back from the original film with all its heavy makeup, the effects enhance the film and make it more believable and definitely more watchable. The film is a definite blockbuster but it isn’t an all out Apes vs. Humans flick as many might expect (including me).
Caesar, played by motion capture maestro Andy Serkis, is an adopted ape who has the retrovirus gene courtesy of his mother. The film depicts his evolution and progression as an intelligent ape, giving stark similarities to humans. His ’foster parent’, Will Rodman (James Franco), has been trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and believes that Caesar is the missing link to it. A subplot involving his disease ridden Dad, Charles (John Lithgow) makes Will more determined that he has found the cure.
The main half of the film is about Caesar and how he grows up.
The film shows him as a clever ape, not like a circus chimp but human like intelligence. He also progresses through the stages of growing up. There is one scene where he sits in the back as opposed to the boot of the car, connotations of rebellious teenagers. In the second half of the film, he joins alliance with other apes to wreak havoc over San Francisco.
The visual effects for Caesar were designed by WETA Digital, (the same company that gave us Gollum), and the result was outstanding. Andy Serkis embodies Caesar with the help of expensive technology, he is not the just the voice but he does everything; actions, facial expressions etc. There has been calls for Serkis to be nominated for an Oscar for this role but I don’t think that is going to happen; I do believe the motion capture industry needs to be more widely accepted as a glorious advancement in technology. Serkis gives an electrifying performance as Caesar, as the moniker states, he is a true hero in the film as he leads the apes to salvation.
The majority of the human characters are played well. Dodge (Tom Felton) is a brutal guard at the primate facility, Felton echoes his Draco Malfoy like image and characteristics. He also gets to say two famous lines, ’It’s a madhouse. A madhouse!’ and ’Take your dirty paws off me….’ you know the rest. Freida Pinto plays Caroline, a love interest for Will but she doesn’t really offer much to the film.
We feel sympathy for the apes, they deserve their revenge but this isn’t at all a revenge story. The apes led by Caesar are commanded not to kill any humans. His love for Will is mirroring this decision.
Rupert Wyatt directs this film with confidence and in an assured manner with visual flair implemented all the way. The visual effects are second to none. They add to the enjoyment, as it is wonderful to see technology move forward to give us the perfect viewing experience. It’s important that Andy Serkis and the other actors who played the apes truly embodied their roles to make it more believable. The San Francisco bridge scene is testament to that. The scene is well shot even though the premise is used many times, it isn’t boring at all.
One thing I would have liked to see is more of the Alzheimer’s subplot between Franco and Lithgow. I felt there wasn’t a strong enough relationship built between both characters to make me feel sympathetic to his illness. The Alzheimer’s subplot is played pretty well in the film though. This film is about progress, so for those who want action, there is a spectacular bridge scene but that's about it.
All in all, this film is a definite summer blockbuster and ends the summer on a thoughtful note.