Rise of the Planet of the Apes
During one of our mini-episodes of the Devil’s Advocates podcast, I was complaining about how filmmakers now have such great technology at their disposal and make horrible movies with all of that technology. In the last five years, we have been inundated with movies like Avatar, The Last Airbender, Clash of the Titans and a whole lot of other horrible movies that were just excuses to show off special-effects. I used the example of Raiders of the Lost Ark to show how a movie could be made thirty years ago with some of the simplest movie making techniques (matte paintings, puppets and miniature sets) and still be better than most of what Hollywood keeps putting into the movie theaters now.
I truly believed that until I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Rise is the other side of the point I was making about today’s movies. This movie is brilliant and could not have been made without today’s technology. After I saw the trailer for this earlier this year, I really thought this was going to be a terrible movie. I was so wrong and I am now eating my words.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is something of a reboot of the classic franchise. This time, we are shown what lead up to the apes taking over the world. Research scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is working on a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s something personal for him because his father (John Lithgow) suffers from the devastating disease. Will is using chimpanzees in his research at his testing lab. One of the chimps shows incredible intelligence after being given a test serum that Will is working on. So much so that he believes he has made a breakthrough in his research. Soon there’s an incident at the lab and the chimp dies. But, it appears that the intelligence and the serum were passed down from the mother chimp to her baby. Will takes the baby chimp home and his father names him Caeser. Caeser soon grows smarter at a rate faster than a human baby would at the same age and shows the same traits his mother showed. Only he’s beyond anything Will could have imagined.
This is one of the best movies I have seen. Period. Everything about this movie hits it’s mark. The cast, lead by James Franco, is great. John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox and Tom Felton (Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies) are all at the top of their game in this one. The special-effects and motion-capture that was used in this movie are beyond anything else I’ve seen in recent memory. Andy Serkis (Gollum from LOTR) was the actor behind Caesar in the movie and WETA, Peter Jackson’s special-effects company brought Caesar and the rest of the primates in the movie to life. WETA studied primate behavior in the wild as research, filmed actors in specially designed suits to capture their movements on a set and then put everything together to make this movie believable. It works. And it works beautifully. If the effects in this movie didn’t work, the movie would have failed completely.
I loved this movie. It had me glued to my seat. I also loved all of the little touches and homages to the original and classic Planet of the Apes movie with Charlton Heston. Keep an eye out.
If you are reading this and haven’t seen Rise, go see it. It makes the Tim Burton Planet of the Apes from 2001 look like the hipster horror movie that it is. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a smart Summer movie and one of the best of the year.
Posted on August 9, 2011, in Film Review and tagged Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, James Franco, John Lithgow, movie review, Planet of the Apes, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.