Rogert Ebert ends his review of Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011): “Bottom line: This is the movie you may have been expecting. No less, no more.” I agree. In the vein of a film sent to entertain you, hugs and kisses, love Hollywood, this origin story delivers. If your expectations were as low as mine, however, (not being a big fan of James Franco), you might get more than you expected.
Eight years of being raised by humans and now left behind in an abusive sanctuary, a hyper-intelligent chimpanzee will lead a revolution of apes towards freedom from man’s torturous exploitation.–synopsis via Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
expectations…I anticipated that using even the more basic level of cg available to filmmakers now, the animation of the apes would be good (or at least, not too cheesy). I was right. One could go so far as to say the Andy Serkis driven Caesar was enthralling. As Manohla Dargis observes in her New York Times review, “When Caesar scowls, as he increasingly does, you don’t see just digital wizardry at its most expressive; you also see a plausible, angry, thinking character.” There were no weird costumes–yay! Sorry but I was haunted by that 1968 Charlton Heston version.
…John Lithgow will be brilliant as usual. And he was: going from feeble to angry to tears to affable. He was enough his character I didn’t think Dexter once (no matter how memorable he is as a serial killer–though, admittedly I was too wimpy to watch too much.)
…I decided to watch the film because it was an origin story. I didn’t feel the need to make comparisons to the previously made films (to include 2001’s Planet of the Apes w/ Mark Wahlberg, which I haven’t seen and probably won’t despite my adoration for Tim Burton films). Rise of provided allusions to future events, shuttle launch and loss, etc. It was enough.
didn’t expect…much from James Franco, which is standard operating procedure for me, but he was enjoyable as Will Rodman.
…Tom Felton (of Draco Malfoy fame) was in it as Draco Malfoy aka Dodge Landon, an entitled sniveling son the ape rescue where Caesar is eventually forced to stay. Brian Cox (John Landon) was also unexpected and happy making. He has playing gray down to an art.
…I was pulled in and swept along rather happily by the film. I was neither underwhelmed or overwhelmed. It was easy and fun.
of interest… I found the casting interesting. The man who would enslave and abuse the apes for his own superior ends is a black man aka Will’s boss at the bio-tech company Gen-Sys. A casting choice where a potentially sympathetic character, which could be anyone not white and/or male, could make one statement, but isn’t; because David Oyelowo as Steven Jacobs is not. I can’t help but wonder what Rise of is trying to say… I can say Oyelowo was marvelous in his role.
…Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) as Caroline Aranha was another casting pick that caught my attention. If the role called for beautiful, intelligent, and still maternal, Pinto carries it off and the choice was a good one; yet, her intelligence as a primatologist is notably underutilized, or she is to illustrates how far beyond anything Caesar is, because she doesn’t provide enough cliff notes on apes. Just the same, I can’t help but consider the lovely addition Pinto/Aranha is to a stage set for the blended family and global presence.
…yes, the Golden Gate bridge is a lovely cinematic treat, but could a film about a new of an oppressed group rising be set anywhere better? of course, conversely, it could be implied SF is the seat of a deadly infection that annihilates most of the human race. Regardless, it is a site of change, of possibility, and of human conditions explored.
…by films end, you feel the human race is a bit deserving of their fate, or, at the very least, feel happy that the apes were not completely massacred. There is a sense of inevitability that cannot be solely attributed to a foreknowledge of the Planet of the Apes stories/sequels. Everything unfolds along credible enough lines, men are weakened by their hunger for power and their nature (health/frailty), the trajectory is set for a planet overtaken by newer breeds of apes; the tension is even set for a power struggle among the apes. The film is primed for a sequel, or a return of the audience to the first iteration of Planet of the Apes. However, I’m content with leaving it there.
—————Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)—————
Dir. Rupert Wyatt; written: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver; dir. of photography: Andrew Lesnie; produced by Mr. Jaffa, Ms. Silver, Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark; edited: Conrad Buff & Mark Goldblatt; music: Patrick Doyle; visual effects supervisors: Joe Letteri & Dan Lemmon; starring: James Franco (Will Rodman), Freida Pinto (Caroline), John Lithgow (Charles Rodman), Brian Cox (John Landon), Tom Felton (Dodge), David Oyelowo (Steven Jacobs), and Andy Serkis (Caesar); released by 20th Century Fox.
Running time: 105 minutes. Rated PG-13: intense and frightening sequences of action and violence involving humans and apes.
————————-links & reviews————————-
Roger Ebert reviews.
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times reviews, “Looking Apocalypse in the Eye.”
————-Science Fiction Experience 2012————-