Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes [ Movie Review ] ★★★★

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes is Worth Going Apes For"

The Pitch

The first thing that got my attention was the long and mouthful title. It contains two sets of the phrase "of the"  and that just didn't flow right for a movie title. Even though it wasn't the ideal title, it did somewhat accomplish the job of informing people that it's a prequel to the classic movie The Planet of the Apes.

Upon more research on this movie, it turned out to be a reboot too. Director Rupert Wyatt had said that they are trying to achieve what Batman Begins did for The Dark Knight franchise. Since both movies are not so well titled, there might be a chance that Rise of the Planet of the Apes will turned out to be as good as Batman Begins.

The trailer looked promising too. The CGI apes that Weta Digital and Andy Serkis created through motion-capture performances looked impressive. James Franco look set to add another intriguing entry into his diversified resume by providing the human perspective to the origin of the ape's worldwide domination.

Strangely, for someone who was never interested in the Planet of the Apes franchise and it's concept, this prequel reboot is buzzing for me. First and foremost, I would like to see how will this movie link to the old franchise and how are they going to bridge it. I am also intrigued by how human brutality towards animals in the name of science would be worked into the movie. Last but not least, can a bunch of apes really win the war against humans?

The Plot

Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist who is about to find a cure for Alzheimer. Tests on chimpanzee had been progressing well and needed approval to move the project onto human trials. After a horrible mishap during a presentation for the investor, Will's project was deemed as a failure and was subsequently canceled. Will's animal wrangler gave him the offspring of one of the test subjects and was force to bring it home while they looked for an animal sanctuary.

Will's dad, Charles (John Lithgow) an Alzheimer patient became fond of the young chimpanzee quickly and decided to name it Caesar (Andy Serkis). As times passes, Will noticed that Caesar had been genetically modifies and adapts very well with human-like intelligence. Unfortunately, Caesar incurred unwanted attention when he attempt to "rescue" Charles from a nasty neighbor's "attack". The authority ordered Caesar to be locked up in a primate shelter.

In the shelter, Caesar learned about human cruelty towards animals and started to resent the treatment to it's species. The issue was exacerbated by the fact that Will's attempt to rescue Caesar had been hampered by the government's red tapes. Caesar decided to take matters to it's own hands and form a revolution for the apes.

The Perspective - Rise of the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

To summarize, it's a pretty good prequel story. Director Rupert Wyatt made a wise decision of not covering too much and used his characters well to drive the story. The conflicts between human and apes were well crafted, creating a subtle tragedy on the best intention. It was gripping to see how Caesar's bond with humans would slowly evolve into a rebellion. It's the kind of scenario that you would sympathize both sides and but understood their rationale in their involvement with the eventual clash.

It's nice to see that instead of rushing, they took the time to build the foundation for the bridge between this movie and the rest of the franchise. The filmmakers were also pretty innovative in crafting the reason why a bunch of monkey could conquer the whole world and mankind. The beauty of their innovation would be that they could include another movie before reaching the events in Planet of the Apes or just jump straight there. And of course the news on a space shuttle mission to mars were a nice nods to those who are aware of what happened in Planet of the Apes.

   The story won't resonate without a good performance from the actors. James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto and Andy Serkis delivered the compassionate side of human and animal interaction. Brian Cox, Tom Felton and David Oyelowo showed the nastiness of mankind without going overboard. It's a well balanced storyline with capable cast supporting it.

WETA Digital's special effects for Rise of the Planet of the Apes needed to commended here. It was so good that sometimes, it easy to forget that Caesar and other apes are pure computer generated images. It's not the highlight of the movie but it definitely aided in telling the story.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one rare summer blockbuster movie that thoroughly entertains, intrigue and satisfy. It packs as much intellects and emotions as one possibly could in a commercial summer blockbuster that's main function would be to entertain. In a way, it matches Batman Begins and Star Trek (2009) in terms of creating the excitement for potential sequels that might come after this reboot prequel. Highly Recommended!


Don't leave the theater immediately once the credits start rolling. There a scene inserted in between the credits. It covers what happened to Will's poor neighbor and how a "minor" character would affect things to come. You will be glad that you stayed for this scene if you enjoyed the movie.

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