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Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Wed, 17 Aug 2011
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is proof that a movie still has potential, even if it's met with rolling eyes and a mouth-full of a title. For those who questioned a prequel Apes film, have no fear, Caesar, and Andy Serkis, are here. As most of us have learned, RPA exceeds everyone's expectations. It's the surprise hit of the year and ranks among the best of the summer. It could even be the best film of the summer, period, depending on your perspective. One thing's for certain, though: Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar nomination already. He won't win (the Academy can't even nominate Christopher Nolan), but it would just be nice to see a nomination. He deserves it.
RPA isn't your typical summer blockbuster. Like this summer's Super 8, director Rupert Wyatt focuses largely on storytelling over action. The actual "revolution," or at least the beginning of it, doesn't take place until the film's climax and up until that point, there's rarely an action sequence, unless you count Caesar's fight with that one chimp an action sequence. Wyatt takes time to craft the final uprising. The build-up takes time, but is never boring, and the pay off is exceptional.
By the time the apes take charge, we are guiltily on their side. They're enslaving us, but we can't help but root for them. That's what the movie does best. It makes us root for the apes. I think it even takes the time to paint the majority of us as evil so the apes' revolution is more justifiable by the end. From his introduction as a little baby chimp we knew we were going to be rooting for Caesar, and as the movie progresses, it become painstakingly clear that he is fed up. The many emotions Caesar experiences over his journey from young chimp to ape leader is brought to life exceptionally by the talented motion capture actor Andy Serkis, who also brought us Gollum in the LotR trilogy and Kong in Peter Jackson's King Kong remake.
Serkis is no stranger to motion capture technology, and with the help of WETA (who bring us impressively realistic CGI apes for the first time in the franchise's history), it's not just his motions that are being captured here, it's his performance, his expressions. Serkis gives Caesar a life of his own and his performance is as good as any actor in the movie...wait, scratch that, BETTER. Compared to Serkis, the actors in this film don't hold a candle to his performance. The only one that comes close is Franco, but only because he's the only human you really care about in the (besides Charles, of course) movie. Not to lessen Franco's performance-I thought he did a splendid job-but Serkis just blows everything else out of the water.
Other characters don't have as much of a prominent role as Franco's Will or Caesar but are there for one reason or another in shaping Caesar into the ape he will become. John Lithgow plays Will's father Charles. It's a very sympathetic role and that's the extensiveness of it, but he serves his purpose for a few pretty heartfelt moments. Frida Pinto's Caroline plays Will's girlfriend, and really only does something worth mentioning in the end to help Will out. Other than that, she's basically just the girlfriend who's there for it appears no other reason than to give Will a girlfriend. Tom Felton goes from one douche to another this summer as he plays Dodge, a very bratty and arrogant prick that you hope bites it.
Like I said, none of these characters can hold a candle to Serkis' Caesar, but that's the whole point. They serve their respective roles. By the end of the film, we have to feel that Caesar is the hero. We know what happens, but how it happens is always intriguing. Star Wars did it...okay, so this is being received a lot better than The Phantom Menace but the point still stands. There will undoubtedly be sequels to this film, and it's not like it'll be undeserved. The film, despite being a depiction of the apes initial uprising, leaves room for a sequel. There's still a lot the apes have to do before they want to take over. A lot of the initial complaints leading up to the film was that there's no way a small army of apes would be able to take us out all by themselves. Well, the film not only does a great job of playing up the apes' heightened intelligence, but it also gives a fairly decent explanation for how us pathetic humans will eventually dwindle in numbers. I'm eager to see how that will play out in the sequel.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a fun and smart summer hit. It's not the theater experience that films like TF3 or HP7 were, but it definitely has its moments of glory. The obvious homage to the original Planet of the Apes film uttered by Dodge seems forced and Tom Felton is no Charlton Heston, but I can appreciate it for what it is, and Caesar's response is gold. Pure gold. Besides, RPA doesn't have to be that kind of theater experience to be an experience all its own, and to be one of the best, if not the best, film of the summer.
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