Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Rise of The Planet of The Apes (Apes 3.0) - Movie Review

As someone might call this movie: "Apes 3.0"

In 1968 a revolutionary film came out: “Planet of the apes”. It is a science fiction movie portraying a version of earth sometime in the distant future where apes are the dominating species while the human race is being enslaved and hunted down to extinction. There’s no need to elaborate too much about the film or its four sequels (if you haven’t seen them, you should). What is important to say is that they were ground breaking, not only (maybe even not at all) due to its complex storyline, the brilliant makeup work and the special effects, but mostly due to the harsh criticism it laid upon the American society.

The film uses the social relationship between the apes and the humans as an analogy to the relationship between the African-American community and the Caucasian one. The film strongly warns against the danger lying in racial, religious and gender-based discrimination.

"social relationship between the apes and the humans..."

In 2001, a remake made by Tim Burton (whom I personally admire for films such as “Edward scissorhands” and “Beetlejuice”) came out. As an eighteen year old kid I enjoyed it. It had great action, amazing customs and makeup and an interesting story. But only a few years later, when I finally got to watch the original series I understood how pale it was in comparison. It essentially has all of the glitter with none of the subtext. 

Warning: Possible spoilers ahead

The main reason I’m happy that the 2001 remake was made is that it probably inspired this latest reboot. It has almost everything that was missing from the remake, with some additional bonuses such as John Lithgow in one of his best appearances to date or the most amazing animation work I’ve ever seen.

The film takes place on earth today (or sometime in the near future, I don’t remember it being stated specifically anywhere in the film, then again, I might have missed it). The researcher Will Rodman (James Franco) secretly tests a potential cure for Alzheimer’s on his sick father (Lithgow) following a catastrophic presentation of the cure to investors in the pharmaceutical company he works for. The presentation had failed due to the female ape who was supposed to be presented to the investors started acting violently and attacked its caretakers (or experimenters).  Only a few hours later Rodman had discovered that she wasn’t violent due to the drug. She was just protecting her newly born son.

Rodman unwillingly takes the newly born ape (later named Caesar) to his house and starts taking care of him. He soon discovers that the mental abilities of Caesar’s mother had passed on to him, and Caesar quickly begins displaying very unique and advanced behavior. These amazing results along with the amazing recovery of Rodman’s father catch the attention of Rodman’s employer. The rest of the plot I’ll leave for you to enjoy.

"The rest of the plot I’ll leave for you to enjoy..."

Strong points:

The most notable strong point of the film is its plot. Much like the original series it carries the heavy burden of criticism quite successfully. It has both the original line of criticism (Accepting the other, the different) and some new ideas of its own (The dangers of improper and irresponsible use of knowledge and wealth).

Another two strong points are the actors, both filmed and animated. As I wrote earlier, as far as I’m concerned this is of John Lithgow’s best performances on screen to date. It’s always a pleasure to see such a versatile actor in action. James Franco also does a great job, along with some of the minor characters such as the manager of the “ape safe house” and his son (Brian Cox and Tom Felton respectively).

Regarding the animated characters, well, there’s not really much to say. Except for maybe the fact that this is definitely the most amazing animation work I’ve ever seen. Amazing detail, brilliant art work. In fact, in my opinion, this work is a significant step forward for the art of animation. Never have I seen animated characters which I could not tell whether they are real or not just by looking at them. The only reason I could tell is that the plot required that they have human facial characteristics which gave them away (again, by being so brilliantly detailed and realistic).  By the way, the motion of the digital actors is in fact recorded by human “motion actors”, most notably Caesar, portrayed by Andy Serkis who had also portrayed Gollum in “The lord of the rings” trilogy.

Weak points:

The only weak point I can find is the role of Carolina Aranha. It’s not the actress (Freida Pinto). It’s the role. A tragic hero usually has a spouse. Its usual role is usually one of two: either he drives the hero into making the wrong decisions or he acts as an external moral center. In our case, it’s the latter. The problem is that it’s a very typically written part with no surprises, no ingenuity and basically nothing special about it. It could have been the source for a lot of the criticism in the film, but it ended up as nothing more than yet another simple female role.

By the way, if you’re already rebooting the series, and making all of these changes, why not try a woman in the leading role? Could have been interesting…

In conclusion, this is definitely one of the best movies made in the past few years. I’m very glad it came out and I can’t wait for the sequels.

One last thing: It’s easy to spot David Hewlett (Dr. Rodney McKay of “Stargate Atlantis”) as the annoying neighbor (and by the way, an annoying, stuck up, know it all character? Talk about typecasting…), but can you spot the other guest from "Stargate"?

With Much Respect,



Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Eagle Belt Buckles