Friday, 12 August 2011

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Review

Reboot or sequel?  Does it really matter?  Arguably, no.  Especially if a film is good enough to stand on its own.

'Rise', having reminded myself of the plot of the original and Burton's remake, doesn't fit in with either of the story lines previously established, so it is a reboot, but what a way to start.

The movie lives and dies by the quality of the CGI.  All the apes are completely computer animated and for the most part it works brilliantly.  There are one or two moments where it falls short and you're reminded that what you're watching is not a real ape, but for the most part it's convincing.

The humans get a rough deal in the film, only James Franco as the scientist on the brink of curing Alzheimer's disease, is really likeable.  He raises the ultra intelligent Caesar, a chimpanzee, who's mother had been given the drug that Franco's scientist was testing.  The rest of the cast, with the exception of John Lithgow as Franco's father and a tacked on girlfriend, are there to make you route for the apes.  Evil boss, check.  Evil animal handler, check.  Evil man running ape sanctuary, check.  By the end you're routing for the apes without question.

Caesar is brilliantly realised as a character.  Facial expressions are readable, the intelligence behind the eyes is never in doubt.  We swatch him grow, watch him fall and watch him rise and at no point do we want him to fail.  Andy Serkis, who else, provided the motion capture for Caesar and the ape is never anything other than alive once fully grown.

There are nods to the other movies, but where they go next with this is anyone's guess.  There could be a direct sequel or a jump forward, with a retelling of the original 1968 movie.  Again.

There are stand out moments far to good to reveal here but it's been a long time since I've heard an audience gasp like I did last night.
★★★★☆