johnlink ranks RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)

Confession time: I have never seen a PLANET OF THE APES film. I know a bunch about them, and I am familiar with the tone and events of the series, but I’ve never watched one. So, I come to RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES with a fresh mind and no expectations about what a PLANET OF THE APES film should be. I’ve heard that people like this, but I have no idea how fans of the original feel about it. I would say I don’t know what fans of the Tim Burton version think, but, really, there are no fans of the Tim Burton remake.

I watched RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011) on 9.18.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

The smartest thing about this movie is that it is not a standard action flick. There aren’t the early action beats put in just to let us know we are seeing an action film. Instead, most of this story involves Will (James Franco) raising a medically enhanced chimp named Caesar (Andy Serkis in motion capture). There is tension to be found due to the fact that Will stole Caesar from his medical lab when he was due to be euthanized. But. for the most part, the film focuses on the relationship between master and pet.

Only, due to his abnormal levels of intelligence, Caesar is not content to be a pet. He considers himself more in a father-son relationship. Will gives lip service to this, but there is no doubt that Caesar is not an ordinary child.

The film has some plot holes. A doctor (Freida Pinto) at the zoo seems to have no problem with someone bringing a chimp in off the street, if only because the film wants Will to start a relationship with her. When Casesar gets loose and bites someone, Will is not held criminally responsible and there is no push to put down Caesar. The film needs some time for Caesar to organize his fellow inmates at the primate prison, so the script can’t move things at a realistic pace. There is a bit of that going on here on all levels. Being a sci-fi film, the movie gets a little more leeway than a drama would. On the other hand, the film wants us to believe that all this is happening in a real world. The events, as they unfold, undermine that idea to a certain extent.

The special effects are often underwhelming. Never terrible, to be sure, but certainly not powerful. The face work is superb, but when the camera pulls back and starts showing multiple CGI entities in a CGI landscape, we are very definitely in a place which feels different.

On the plus side, the characters are fairly well written. Will is driven by his father (John Lithgow) who has been stricken with Alzheimer’s. The relationship between these two is very nice, and we really feel for both of them throughout the film. We can see why Will has the drive (and the moral ambiguity) which he does.

One of the best moments of this film happens post ending. A few seconds after the first title cards hit at the end we are privy to a final scene and a fairly inspired image covering the end credits. All of it certainly seems to promise a sequel with a much different universe than we are presented with in this first movie.

I liked RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. I wasn’t left in awe, but I was moderately satisfied. Fairly solid science-fiction, bit of useful action, decent character development. My standards aren’t astronomical, I suppose.





~ by johnlink00 on September 20, 2012.

3 Responses to “johnlink ranks RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011)”

  1. I cannot recommend strongly enough that you watch the original Planet of the Apes.

  2. A friend of mine saw this film and said that it was merely a reflection of things to come in Hollywood; that is, using computer generated characters thereby cutting down on the number of actors necessary for a film. And that is all he said. Now I know why. It sounds like underwhelmed is being a bit too kind.

    As for the original films, watch them. There is nothing like seeing Charlton Heston smoking a cigar in the cockpit of his spaceship–among other great scenes.

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