The Best Of Intentions Can Result In Unimagined Tragic Consequences
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
For washing the last vestiges of the horrid Timothy Burton Apes movie out of my system.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes(ROTPOTA) takes many elements and story points from the previous movies and, through the magic of Peter Jackson’s WETA SFX company and their continuing strides in Motion Capture Technology, bring the story of the rise of Caesar; the first intelligent ape able to speak, to the screen in a new and exciting way.
Let’s be clear here. The SFX work in this film is amazing given the number of characters and the complex interactions they have with different environments. Do the apes always look real and life like? No. There are many moments where they do so and a handful of moments where they do not. Those moments usually involve either multiple CGI Apes moving in group shots or when Caesar is moving adroitly through out his home, the house of scientist Will Rodman, played by James Franco. But the scale of variability between those shots where the CGI is seamless and where it is apparent is small. Very small.
Did I mention ROTPOTA was able to implement On Location Motion Capture Shooting! Amazing. Check out this feature for more details:
It helps that the story is engrossing which diverted my attention from looking at the CGI of the ape characters to simply watching them as characters. This is especially true of Caesar but holds for several of the supporting apes, chimps, orangutans, gorillas and the actors who portrayed them. The undisputed King of Motion Capture, Andy Serkis of Gollum/LOTR and King Kong fame, provides the canvas once again for the portrayal of a nonhuman character. He does a stellar job and creates another character that sucks you in emotionally.
You will fear for Caesar. And fear Caesar.
Caesar’s journey from an innocent, albeit an intelligent one, to realizing that humans will never accept intelligent apes to becoming the leader of a mixed band of primates is magnificently captured by Serkis and SFX technicians with the result being a very nuanced and fully fleshed character in Caesar. All of this growth is capped off by a fantastic set piece on the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge.
In ROTPOTA Rodman is driven by his father’s Alzheimer to develop a cure which is the proverbial double edged sword. The cure to the disease inadvertently leads to the passing of intelligence onto the Apes and releasing a virus which becomes a pandemic to mankind. The end of the movie sets the stage for another Ape movie in which the scales between Man and Simian will be balanced.
The human actors acquit themselves well enough but beyond Franco are never really given much depth. Still it was a hoot to see Tom Felton, Draco from the Harry Potter movies, as a torturous caretaker who gets to revisit one of the series’s famous lines in a totally reversed context. The movie flirts with throwing out the old chestnut about there being certain things that man should not mess with but thankfully those are few and far between.
Much like the first Terminator movie left us all wanting to see the actual events of Judgement Day, ROTPOTA leaves us a similar desire. To see the inevitable conflict between Ape and Man and the fall of Mankind.
I cannot wait to see that.
ROTPOTA may lack the social commentary the first Ape movies plumbed but as setup movie that is understandable. Plenty of time for that in the sequel(s). I put this one up there with X-Men:First Class and Super 8 as a highlight of the summer movies.