What a very very good film this is. In `Rise of The Planet of the Apes', English director Rupert Wyatt has a stab at doing what Tim Burton failed spectacularly to do in 2001 - resurrecting the Planet of the Apes franchise. What Wyatt has created, against all the odds, is a thoughtful, intelligent and stirring piece which provides the perfect antidote to all the silly, lacklustre `Apes' films since Franklin J. Schaffer's classic original from 1968.
The film charts the rise of Caesar, an orphaned laboratory chimp, from timid youngster to a sort of revolutionary leader of his fellow Simians. Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist at a pharmaceutical company researching a new drug and potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease that reverses the damage to brain tissue, tested on chimps. The effect it has on these animals is to rapidly increase intelligence to an unprecedented degree. After one of the apes goes berserk and trashes the laboratory, the drug is rejected by investors and all but one of the chimps, the baby Caesar, are killed. Will takes the chimp home with him and raises it himself but continues to use the drug on his father (John Lithgow), an Alzheimer's sufferer. Needless to say things go awry, and Caesar is taken away to a special facility where a large number of primates are held in captivity. Along the way there are various maltreatments of Caesar and his fellow chimps at the hands of sadistic humans, all of which contributes to his rise to power. Here begins the most powerful section of the movie, as Caesar gains the trust of his fellow apes and then eventually begins to command them.
Absolutely central to the success of the movie is the performance of Andy Serkis as Caesar, again displaying his enormous physical talents and reaffirming why he is the `go to' man for motion capture. Whether he be Gollum, King Kong, Captain Haddock or Caesar, someone please change the Academy rules and nominate this brilliant actor for an Oscar. The CGI effects are, for the most part, remarkable and as good as I have seen to date, with just a few slips; moments where you are reminded that the chimps aren't actually there. The final clash between apes and humans on the Golden Gate Bridge is thrilling and spectacular.
Sadly the performances of the human contingent are less spectacular. This is perhaps partly due to the fact that they have increasingly little to do as the film progresses, becoming almost fringe characters. Indeed, Freida Pinto has little to do from the start besides look pretty and smile sympathetically. But this is a fairly minor gripe because this is very much Caesar's story. In fact it makes the movie all the more impressive because Caesar's rise is depicted for a large portion of the film with very little dialogue. The pick of the human performances is probably John Lithgow as Will's father, a man losing his identity.
A really pleasant surprise this one. On the one hand a great action movie, with some thrilling set-pieces and terrific special effects. But its real power lies in the performance of Serkis as the central character, and the fun to be had watching him lead a Spartacus style revolution against oppression. 8.5/10.Read more ›
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the updated origin story of the Planet of The Apes series. Updated in terms of story, CGI and pace. The CGI was much feted before the release of the film and its a shame that the first real shot of the Ape in the lab isn't as clean as everything else. Because as a whole the CGI work is extremely impressive. The story is simple enough and if you can leave a little disbelief at the door you will be more than well entertained here. The acting is good. John Lithgow's part shows off his skills well as he plays the father who is struggling with Alzheimer's. The story goes along at a pace and has humour and doesn't overly play the sentiment card.
The one thing this also has is a lot of love the original material. Don't believe me go back and watch it again. Notice the Charlton Heston films in the Ape house. See the story from the TV in the background where the space mission is launched that will eventually come back to a Planet of The Apes. Its not just the repetition of the obvious line of dialogue here. The whole thing pays tribute to the previous films.
This film hasn't been mentioned in many best of lists from last year. But its probably the blockbuster of last year that actually lived up to its expectations. It bears repeated watching and if you haven't seen it then you are in for a treat.
This was an amazing film, the digital film world has certainly advanced in the last few years as the apes in this film looked scarily real at times. The facility Ceaser was placed in I found disturbing, mainly because you know such places exist. Now I'm hoping the make a follow up film ;-)
Good picture quality, good sound quality, with a reasonable amount of extra guff to entertain yourself with, after the feature. Multiple formats to support whatever set-up you've got. The film is probably second only to the original itself. Whilst I think the original's four sequels have their camp, entertaining moments, this is the first deserved sequel/prequel.
The word reimagining is a much-abused one in movies, but Rise of the Planet of the Apes is such a superb example of how a disappointing film can be remade as a genuinely satisfying one by approaching the same basic story points from a very different angle. This isn't the conquest of the planet but the first step, and one that begins with the best intentions before escalating along with the genetically-enhanced chimp Caesar's growing intelligence. It manages to be both smart and entertaining, packing a lot more into its 105-minute running time than many a more bloated blockbuster and fits in firmly with the original series of films, from the references to Taylor's lost mission being launched to the origins of the plague that, in Conquest, was held responsible for the death of all domestic pets but here seems more dangerous to humans. And it's satisfying that, true to the Lawgiver's scrolls, it's the word No that is pivotal. Just as satisfyingly, it doesn't overdo the sly references to the original that are there to be discovered rather than hitting you over the head with them - Charlton Heston on TV, Caesar's mother sharing the same name the apes give Taylor in the original (Bright Eyes), an elderly orangutan called Maurice.
Abandoning prosthetics for mocap for the apes, the special effects are superb, allowing Andy Serkis to give another of his remarkable creature performances that was sadly ignored yet again at awards season while at the same time being far more convincingly simian than even the great John Chambers could manage. These apes look and move and behave like primates even in the exhilarating finale when the simian Spartacus re-enacts a moment from Kubrick's film before the impressive Golden Gate showdown. Easily the best Planet of the Apes film since, oh, at least 1968 and a terrific movie in its own right as well...
The Bluray comes with an impressive array of extras - two audio commentaries, several featurettes and three trailers and 12 minutes of deleted scenes, but, as is increasingly the fashion, the European DVD version also included is less well-endowed: just two deleted scenes and a couple of featurettes (the US edition didn't even have those!). Nonetheless, a worthwhile purchase for the excellent film itself.Read more ›