Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

If you look closely, you can actually see me in the reflection of the glass in this picture

Dir: Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist)
Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Jamie Harris
USA, 2011

Seen: August 6, 2011 at the Rainbow

Reason to see: It's on my list of Most Anticipated Films of 2011 (mid-year add)

I had initially had no interest in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, not really sure why we'd go hear again after the original series and then the Tim Burton/Mark Wahlberg version from 2001 (where did those 10 years go??), but when I saw the trailer it looks like it could be a pretty smart, slick, science fiction film going with some morality questioning and some actors I like. That was enough to get me in the theatre.

So, this films is actually a remake of the 4th film in the original series (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes from 1972), which I've never seen and certainly isn't a prerequisite to enjoy this new version which could easier serve as reboot although it doesn't feel like that's it's actual, or at least not it's sole purpose. That's oddly one of the things that impressed me about the film, it could have gone totally referential or purely as an introductory 101 course, but it doesn't. It has it's own ideas & story that play out well as a complete piece with and some added value for those familiar with the legacy of works to come before it, which is quite a feat.

The film itself follows Will (James Franco) as Will and we run through familiar conflicts of science as research versus profit and the morality question of experimentation that drive the story, but for some reason it doesn't feel overly familiar or completely by the numbers. It's emotionally accessible and charming but doesn't play the cutesy card or annoy us by being overly clear. It also does a great job of visual storytelling, which I think it was what won me over in the end. I'm not sure exactly how they did the effects here of the animals, but it was amazing. I rarely thought about how what I was seeing was done and only once or twice felt like someone wasn't actually looking and interacting with something real - and that's makes the film visually seamless to watch, which is a relief and a huge step up in a time where many effects-driven films feel empty and unreal. The visuals were very convincing. I wish I could say the story was completely convincing as well, and it was strong but I did have to put on my suspension of disbelief hat on several times and pretend to go along with the non-logic they were feeding me. It's not rampant, but there are certainly choices, and characters, of convenience.

As a summer film, I found it enjoyable and engaging. It brings ups questions of morality and humanity, but doesn't lambast you with morals. Technically it's science fiction, but it also easily qualifies as a family film as everyone can enjoy it. It's also got action and great effects and a great supporting cast. I especially enjoyed the performances from , Brian Cox (The Good Heart, Red) Tom Felton (Harry Potter Series) and Jamie Harris (new to me!) and I truly appreciated that it didn't feel like a series set-up film. A lot of fun and solid entertainment. Plus, it might make you think if you want to, but you don't have to. It is summer, after all.

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'd easily watch it again
I'd recommend it as fun summer film

Also see: Most Anticipated Films of 2011 and All Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2011


Kat said...

Awesome, I agree! It's definitely a great summer flick. I was actually surprised at how engaged the audience was -- I won't spoil it, but there was one part that garnered one loud gasp in unison from the audience, haha. Thanks for the review!

Dan O. said...

I wasn't actually expecting to be as moved as I did from this material but Serkis just really channeled the inner ape within him, and nails this perfect motion-capture performance as Caesar. I also sure as hell hope that he doesn't get snubbed as well. He already did for LOTR! Good Review!

The Film Connoisseur said...

Im actually surprised this one is getting good reviews, in all honesty, same as you, I thought this one was going to be a stinker. There was something about the trailers that didnt excite me. But then these new trailes came along, and then the good reviews, and suddenly I want to watch it really bad! Glad to see you enjoyed it, I've never been a fan of this franchise, but I'm thinking I'd like to give the whole thing a chance. I'll leave out the Tim Burton one though, I hate that one!

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