Review: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

Directed by Rupert Wyatt,  Starring: Andy Serkis, James Franco, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, John Lithgow and Tom Felton

Review:

I actually wasn’t all that excited to see this movie. I thought the film would be all about the special effects and not about the story and characters like it was supposed to be. I was completely wrong and this actually ended up being one of my favorite films of the year.

The best part of the movie is Andy Serkis’ amazing, Motion Capture performance as the protagonist, a chimpanzee named Caesar.  Andy Serkis is no stranger to “Mo-Cap” technology. He played the Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong in the 2005 film, but since you see a CGI creature instead of his face, he wasn’t recognized nearly enough for his fantastic performances. Now with this great performance as Caesar, he can hopefully get the credit he deserves and has deserved for a decade. Serkis puts so much heart into every performance and this one as Caesar is his best one yet. You really sympathize with Caesar and feel as if he could be a real creature, which is quite the accomplishment considering he is a computer generated chimp. The others actors in a darn good cast do fine in their roles but none really stand out.

I was surprised at how emotional this film was. This fact is really important because lets face it, apes taking over as the dominant species is pretty ridiculous. Emotions and relationships really help ground the story in some sort of reality. This movie is a real embodiment of the saying, “actions speak louder than words”. You can tell what Caesar is thinking and feeling just from the expressions on his face and what he does. There are some pretty  emotional scenes in this movie that, for the most part, don’t rely on any dialogue. That’s one magnificent feat. Caesar is very well-developed character, as are some of the other apes and his relationships with them, but the humans characters are not nearly as dynamic. They are pretty bland and don’t really have much depth but this is not too big of a deal considering the movie is from the perspective of the apes. That is the only serious flaw I have with the movie but it didn’t make it any less entertaining.

Visually speaking, the movie is fantastic. The special effects are amazing and the cinematography stunning. Caesar is right up there with Gollum, King Kong, Davy jones and the Na’vi as one of the greatest CGI characters ever created in a movie. I would be surprised if the movie doesn’t win the Academy Award this year for special effects. The action is also fantastic and should entertain anyone craving some awesome ape vs. man battle scenes.  It’s very cool to watch Caesar charismatically lead his fellow apes into battle with no real weapons and fight humans with assault rifles. Also I really like the way the different apes fight: the gorillas are like tanks and just charge in to battle destroying anything in their path, the Orangutans are like scouts who swing across huge gaps and try to outflank the humans, and the chimpanzees are the infantry and are the main force of the army. I thought this was a cool and interesting spin on the battle and was something different.

What I liked most about this film also brings up some ethical and moral questions. The most important question being: Where does a super smart chimpanzee (Caesar) fit into society? With the humans who he is smarter than, or his fellow apes? In both situations he is an outcast and the movie does a great job of showing this. I also love how Caesar is trying to do better, morally speaking, than his human counterparts. He starts to see that humans kill and destroy everything they touch and are cruel to those that they think are lesser than them, and he hates them for it.  Caesar refuses to kill a human intentionally because he has a sense of morals and doesn’t believe that killing is the answer. He tries to teach his fellow apes this and some respond differently than others which I thought was very realistic.

Overall, it’s a summer blockbuster filled with emotion and visual splendor and is for anyone who can accept the somewhat ridiculous plot.

Rating:

One of my favorite films of the year

B+

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