‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ Delivers Great Action

Movie specs:

Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Fox, Tom Felton
Directer: Rupert Wyatt
Genre: Action / Science Fiction
Release Date: August 5, 2011
Running Time: 105 minutes
Rating: PG-13
Rotten Tomato: 80% 

rise of the planet of the apes screenshot of caesar pensive

© 20th Century Fox - Andy Serkis as Caesar screenshot

Can I first start off by saying that although I am in love with James Franco, I did NOT see this movie because of him. Okay, I lied, but by only a little bit. And I am very happy that science fiction is coming back to the big screens! Actually, I went because I was extremely curious to see the visual effects, especially that of the apes. And I was blown away.

The graphics of all the apes were amazing. I am sure that it took a lot of time to not only draw out the wonderful images of them, but the casting for the people portraying the apes, stuntsmen and all, was really good. Very great ape-like movements and facial expressions gave this movie that extra dimension. Throughout the whole movie, you forget that Caesar (the main) is just a very well-crafted visual effect. The overall sound effects for this movie really gave you that “environmental” feeling.

And what’s a good movie without a good storyline? The movie brings you to the beginning of how the apes evolved. Set in San Francisco, Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist determined to find the drug that will cure Alzheimer’s disease. The lab was using chimpanzees to administer the test drugs. He has a deep emotional connection to this, namely his father, and his emotions begins to take over the lab work. Fast forward all the plot details, but his prized chimpanzee, Bright Eyes, had a son right before she died, so Will decided to take over him, calling him Caesar. What he eventually found out is that Caesar started greatly increasing cognitive development, having an intelligence superseding that of humans. Fast forward through more plot details, Caesar eventually broke out of the human race mold, assembled his posse of apes, chimpanzees, and orangutans (all affected by the drug, too), and the movie ends on the note that a major war is about to start.

According to the director, Rupert Wyatt, the premise of this movie is supposed to be similar to that of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, as in the revolt of the apes. But this movie is the beginning of how the apes evolved, and how everything began to unfold. You really begin to feel an emotional connection to the apes, especially Caeser,  almost sympathetically (at least I know my friend was rooting for them at one point). What I enjoyed most about the apes’ “revolt” so to speak is that they actually try to not start a war by ensuring that they do not actually kill anyone (although, spoiler alert, they do).

Let me talk about the director for a second. Amazing direction. Simply great. Great edits that keep you on the edge of your seat, visually stunning camera angles and shots, and everything moved so fluidly, encompassing so many different emotions and stories all in 105 minutes. And this guy hasn’t been around all that long. Looking at his portfolio, he hasn’t been around much compared to other directors, but you can tell he’s got a great vision. If he doesn’t get nominated for this movie, I would be very surprised.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES screenshot james franco freida pinto will rodman

© 20th Century Fox - Freida Pinto and James Franco as Caroline and Will screenshot

Maybe one of the areas that needed probably better attention is the cast. Although I love individually each person and their role, I believe that it fell just a bit short on the deliverables. For example, James Franco is a great actor (and I’m a #FrancoFanFriend), able to display all ranges of emotions, yet keep his hunky smile and demeanor, although he couldn’t really sell me on the “hopefully lost doctor” that his character is (well, at least in the beginning of the movie). And did you watch Slumdog Millionaire? Remember Latika? She’s back as the wifey and somewhat voice of reason for this movie. She doesn’t have a great deal of dialogue, and maybe her character is just kind of dim in the first place, but she’s another pretty face on screen, albeit exotic (and I am all for more diversity in films! Yeah! More asians in films that don’t need us to exhibit any traditional asian stereotypes! Wait, she is a doctor in the movie. Damn it.). John Lithgow has always been a quirky character to me, so I feel that his role was pretty solid. And a surprise appearance by Tom Felton (yep, Draco himself) who apparently just can’t seem to yet let go of that douchey bad guy type character.

But credit is due to Caesar, who is played by Andy Serkis. Well, no, Andy’s not actually recognizable, but he does provide the human element to the visual production of Caesar. What was amazing is that Caesar’s expressions throughout the entire movie is what gives you the connection to his character. For having no dialogue (actually… well, wait, you’ll see it), you are able to see his transformation emotionally and connect with him. Very well modeled.

All in all, the movie was well worth my money, and maybe then some. The audience at the end applauded, although I did overhear some disappointment in the movie. There was a great deal of action, but I think people were ready to see an all-out war between apes and humans. But, like I said, it ends on a very good cliff-hanger, and I cannot wait to see the next installment in this ultra-cool sci-fi series. By the way, there’s a mid-credit scene that you should see.

Oh, and I learned one thing today: don’t f*ck with apes, man.

Grade: A

Follow Twitter’s newstream on the movie: @apeswillrise #riseofapes #PlanetoftheApes

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Rocky Vy
Rocky Vy 101 posts

<a href="http://www.artofonline.com">Digital marketing consultant</a> by trade, a freelance writer by passion. Also, anything that involves innovative tech, fashion, entrepreneurialism, Pantone 021C and pandas are cool, too. Follow him <a href="http://www.twitter.com/rockyvy">@rockyvy</a>.

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