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Friday, August 12, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

(Guest Review by Russ)

Q: What’s the movie about?

A: A genetic engineer's (James Franco) quest for an Alzheimer's cure results in making his pet chimpanzee (Caesar) really smart, and then really determined to rule like that other Caesar he was named after.

Q: Who’s in the movie?

A: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Andy Serkis, David Oyelowo

Q: Is this movie worth the price of admission?

A: PhotobucketGo! Here we have yet another version of an apes-rule-the-world scenario loosely based on the amazing novel by Pierre Boulle, but it really is like no smart-ape movie that has come before it. Using motion capture technology on par with Avatar, the apes are no longer humans in costumes but that is only one part of what makes this film so thrilling. The deep emotional through-line between Caesar the chimp and his owner sucks you in, and the knock-out suspenseful and action-packed finale will leave you as satisfied as the popcorn and soda you had while watching it all.

Q: Will this movie make me laugh?

A: Many of Caesar's antics as a young, growing chimp will keep you amused in a I-want-a-pet-chimp! sort of way. (But read Monique's review of Project Nim before you do!)

Q: Will this movie make me cry?

A: For most pet owners, it probably will. For all others, uh, yeah, you'll probably cry too. Sorry.

Q: Will this movie be up for any awards?

A: The advanced special effects on display will most likely get attention. But with the Academy still considering nominating up to ten films for Best Picture, this one might very well get some votes. It's that good.

Q: How is the Acting?

A: The stand out performance here is without a doubt, Andy Serkis as the grown-up Caesar. The actor (who also played Gollum in Lord of the Rings) was later digitally manipulated into a chimp, but his very human reactions, eyes and empathy come through in every single scene and it gives the film its huge heart. His transformation from a sheltered curious child to a cunning and manipulative leader is the stuff of Academy Award nominations. There are some other amazing ape performances; a gorilla and former circus orangutan come to mind. Yeah, the actors who did those apes were great too.

Q: How is the Directing?

A: I really have no clue who Rupert Wyatt is, nor have I seen the one other feature film he directed before this one, but he gets just about everything right here. This is another example of a director who makes everything seem so effortless that you sort of forget how impressive it all is. This guy just jumped to the Hollywood A-list of directors with this one.

Q: How is the story/script?

A: If there's a quibble to be had here, it's with the script. The story works just fine, but I wish more had been given to some of the human characters. Freida Pinto is beautiful to look at and I'm pretty sure she's a very capable actress, but she's little more than window dressing in this story. Also, John Lithgow (as James Franco's father) disappears about half way through the movie and it would have been nice to not leave us hanging so much where he's concerned. But overall this is a stellar re-imagining of this material that pulls off the difficult feat of creating a satisfying ending while also setting up a sequel that's sure to be even more interesting.

Q: Where can I see the trailer?

A: Rise of the Planet of the Apes Trailer

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Robert Burnett said...

Loved it. Great special effects and not gorry. Several audience applause for the primates. Can't wait for sequel.

ArtsBeatLA said...

Great review -- everyone is saying how fantastic this movie is.

Now I'm wishing I hadn't skipped my press screening >:(