Thursday, 18 August 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Running Time: 106 mins
Directed By: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, John Lithgow
Screenplay: Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa
UK Release Date: UK - 11th August

Quick Plot: A drug that allows brain repair it's self is a scientific breakthrough for Scientist Will Rodman, but before the drug can be available for human use it must be tested on an orphaned chimpanzee, Caesar. What starts off as a rapid boost in Caesar's brain functionality, and proof that the drug works, the chimp soon begins to realise his place is on earth with humans. After being humiliated and wronged, he meets other chimps and they form a rising.

Review: Taking on a franchise of already successful films is one thing but to create a prequel for it is another. It's either a huge success of a huge flop but from this years X-Men: First Class we have proof a prequel can be done, all it needs is a charismatic cast and a solid and believable story and thankfully for us, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has that.
The cast are pretty impressive, James Franco, Tom Felton, Brian Cox, John Lithgow- they're all great but it's Andy Serkis who is the obvious stand out. The reason Rise of the Planet of the Apes has been so successful (in the US so far anyway) is because of it's time. If it was made 5 years ago, it wouldn't have been able to use the correct technology to make the apes look real enough. That's the beauty of the film, the apes look so lifelike and pure and it's simply down to the technology that enables emotion to be portrayed onto an animal. Of course who better to play a non-human than Andy Serkis! All of his parts are the best of the film because the emotions and feelings you see in the ape are pure and not created using a computer but from a human. He knows how to play an ape well and that is why Caesar can fully take the role of main character. It's the apes of the film who OWN it and definitely deserve all the credit they can get. But let's not forget about the human cast, Franco great as usual (is there anything he can't do?!) as is Freida Pinto. But other impressive acts were definitely Felton's more sinister Dodge, who 'takes care' of the apes in their secure home and Lithgow as Will Rodman's sick Father. Felton playing an evil role again but I found this role more immoral than usual but brilliantly well done even if the accent was a little funny to hear at first. I don't want to go off topic and unprofessional, but I have a small connection with the Alzheimer's storyline (as I know a lot of other people will have too) and I found it very emotional but portrayed in the right way. For Lithgow to play the role of a man with the disease is a great bit of acting and he definitely deserves recognition for his small but important role.
It's mainly the real life special effects that had me enchanted by the films real beauty and their connection and study with apes. Of course it's going to be more believable than the 1968 Planet of the Apes because of the technology around- that's a given. But as well with the prequel side of it, the apes are still apes- compared to their later on evolution. Similarly with X-men this year, I found myself not wanting the real ending to occur because as much as you know how it's going to end you don't want it to because you know later on how much destruction and pain will be felt in the future. Yet Rise of the Planet of the Apes does exactly what you hope it would by being beautifully brutal yet undeniably taken in to a great side of the Sci-fi world.
It's a little funny too, I'm not sure whether that was because the cinema was packed or what, but the film has it's funny moments. One of the 'big' moments, of which its aim is not laughs, it very funny indeed because you don't expect it. And for that matter I enjoyed watching it.
Like I said with Super 8 last week, this Summer is filled with obsessive Summer Blockbusters and Rise of the Planet of the Apes could count as one with action and explosions but it's a lot more accomplished. It's a lot better than most of this Summer's films and almost definitely one of the surprise masterpieces of this year.
From a quick post credits scene we see how the human race will be affected by the main plot of this film seeming to a sequel which Rupert Wyatt has not yet confirmed nor booted away. With the beauty of this I am all for a sequel, especially with the technology now available, but as long as it's delicacy is treated kindly.
Keep an eye out for small nods towards the franchise for example a certain piece of iconography that resembles a key icon from the original films, recycled lines and names of certain apes.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is emotional, powering and a different type of narrative to what we usually get today and for that reason this film is a gem. It's stunning in the CG technology and it's not one to be missed. Apes will Rise!

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