Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The summer is winding down as the crazy action-packed blockbusters start to fade away. This film could be called another re-boot, remake or pre-quel in the popular sci-fi series. The early trailers didn't do much for me except for the motion-capture CGI apes that looked damn impressive. The trailers followed the apocalyptic blueprint to a tee: Man creates cure, cure is not what it is meant to be, the experiment goes haywire, Apes become smart, Apes rule the Earth. It's crude but that's what it looked like to me, thankfully that's not what it was.
Will Rodman (James Franco), a geneticist, is struggling to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. It is even more personal for him since his Father, Charles (John Lithgow), is suffering from this disease. Will is experimenting with chimps, he discovers that his cure enhances the brain power of the chimps with violent side effects. When a baby chimp, Caesar (Andy Serkis), is discovered to have the cure in his bloodstream, passed from his mother to him. Will finds that Caesar is different from all of the others, as he grows his brain functions triple in size. He forms a consciousness and begins to feel the torment of an intelligent mind in the body of an animal that is considered inferior.  Caesar is taken from Will when he attacks a neighbor in self defense. They lock him away and he learns how to gain respect among his kind and to escape.
I was truly impressed by this movie, I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. It had all the trappings of the end of the world scenario but instead of strictly following the formula it veered off into something completely different altogether. Unfortunately for Will and his very hot girlfriend Caroline (Freida Pinto), they just weren't interesting enough to carry the film. Where the film was unique and overall satisfying is watching Caesar learn and grow while under Will's care and then later at the Pound. How he earns the respect of the other chimps and he comes to understand who he is and what he actually wants. It will surprise you in it's simplicity but it also just felt completely honest. Don't worry I won't talk about what that is here. You had some nice performances from Lithgow and I liked seeing funnyman Tyler Labine being utilized in something worthwhile. This isn't a funny role for him but it was nice seeing him play someone other than a giant douche. Even though they didn't give her enough to do I also enjoyed Freida Pinto, she's a good actress and she deserved a bit more meat than she was given. But in the end the real star here is Caesar, at first you feel like you are just looking at some very clever CGI but as it continues and you see him in his prison trying to sort out what to do. You completely forget you are looking at a CGI construct and you are convinced that Caesar is alive. Another testament to Andy Serkis and his motion-capture performance. The guy truly should be up for an Oscar this time as he should have been for his role as Gollum.
If you aren't interested in crap horror movies (Final Destination 5, Fright Night) Conan or stupid blue creatures then you really should check this one out. It's got a pretty good cast and a pretty good script. This is not your Father's Planet of the Apes. This is not just an action movie, although the bridge fight was impressive. This fits more in line with Flowers for Algernon. This is about an animal that becomes aware of itself and it's surroundings and how he deals with that. If they can continue to make the Apes franchise with this much care and attention then I think you can have a healthy series in the coming future.
Grade: 3 1/2 Buckets

1 comment:

Rise of The Planet of The Apes said...

Really, I loved this movie. Me and my hubby watched this film together and fall in love with apes. Wonderful movie with great story on apes. I wish that I watch this movie once again..:)