I managed to catch Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes today – and I was pleasantly surprised. Overall I think it was a great movie, with little to criticize. Note that following does contain some level of spoilers – I don’t consider them serious though.
For those unfamiliar with the movie, is is essentially a remake of Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes, as a prequel and genesis to the entire Planet Of The Apes mythos, although this story does not involve the time travel loop the original series of films presented. It is the present day, and research into drugs that can help the brain repair itself is tested on chimpanzees. When an apparently super-aggressive test ape escapes and causes havoc, the project is shut down. But there is an unexpected side effect…
The plot was very good, especially in the reasons for Caesar’s turn towards aggression. It would have been easy to let the drug be the reason but instead it was presented in a believable manner of a highly-intelligent ape seeing the world around him, and how humans typically treat his kind and other animals, despite how he had been treated previously.
James Franco as Dr. Will Rodman may not have been the perfect choice, but he was reasonably believable in his role as the scientist hoping to find a cure for Alzheimers, with a personal reason.
John Lithgow always gives a strong performance and here was no exception. As the Alzheimer’s suffering father, he was totally believable both during episodes and while cured.
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) I wasn’t as impressed by. I wasn’t quite entirely sure how that role was to be portrayed. It appeared that he was supposed to come across as a completely sadistic, abusive animal handler, but for some reason this fell short for me. I also wasn’t quite sure about how his father and head of the shelter, portrayed by Brian Cox, fit in – was he indifferent to the animals, condone his son’s treatment, or just ignorant?
David Hewlett as the next-door neighbor I think was under-utilized, but of course I’m a fan of his. His significance in the storyline is much larger than the 4 short scenes we see him in, however… 😉
The amazing detail of the apes in the movie are the winner however. There is nothing I could see to make it obvious that these were 100% CGI creations using motion capture. I can’t imagine the rigorous workouts the motion-capture actors went through to mimic the motions of the various apes they portrayed. And of course, Andy Serkis’ portrayal of Caesar was remarkable.
Perhaps the one fail of the CGI apes was in their near weightless appearance. They could swing and climb as if they had no weight at all. It just appeared unnatural to a slight degree.
Probably the only other criticism I had was with the “big showdown” on the bridge. It seems the police suffered from Stormtrooper weapons training.
But overall I was pleasantly surprised at the movie, and I am very glad I took the opportunity to see it on the big screen.