[Review] Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Dir: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis

After a pretty poor teaser trailer, I really was not sure about this movie. However, the full trailer was a lot better and after very good reviews from Mike (@littlestpicshow), Scott (@FrontRoomCinema) and Castor (@Castor_AM), I thought I’d give it a watch.

I can happily report that I was not disappointed, far from it, in fact: Apes has got to be my favourite movie of 2011 so far.

Apes fits neatly in to what has been a summer of remakes and sequels – X-Men: First Class, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon and Conan the Barbarian, to name just a few.

However, Wyatt’s contribution to the Planet of the Apes series acts as a foundation to the mythology by providing the origins for both the ‘smart apes’ as well as the virus that will cause mankind’s destruction. To Planet of the Apes novices like me, it is a useful movie that sets the scene very well.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is a San Francisco scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer’s. The developing drug is used on a group of chimpanzees and, after an incident at the facility, the project is shut down. On discovering a newborn, whom he calls Caesar, Will rescues him and so begins to ‘take his work home with him’. Caesar begins to develop intellectually extraordinarily quickly – could he be the key to the cure?

Aside from the concise and well-written plot, the star of the film is undoubtedly Andy Serkis (Caesar) and the use of motion capture acting and CGI. In its review of Apes, Rolling Stone was full of praise for Serkis’ performance:

“To watch what actor Andy Serkis does as Caesar, the lead ape in this movie, is to witness a kind of miracle. Serkis’ performance is not a digital add-on. He’s right there on set, in his body suit, playing scenes with the film’s star, James Franco, and the resulting immediacy pays enormous dividends.”In fact, Serkis gives by far the best performance in the movie, deserving an Oscar nod from an Academy long suspicious of this ‘hybrid’ performance art. Given that Serkis worked similar wonders as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, he is way overdue for recognition.”

Do I agree with Rolling Stone’s praise? Absolutely. It is not just CGI that brought Caesar to life, but also Serkis’ talent as a brilliant actor.

As Mike said over at The Littlest Picture Show, the movie’s focus is on the plight of the apes and not the struggle of humanity. Would the focus have worked so well if the apes had been shot à la Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes? I wouldn’t have thought so. Wyatt’s imagining addition to the Planet of the Apes series works so well because the apes are so realistic.

Apes really is worth a trip to the cinema for Serkis’ performance alone.

★★★★★

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Check out what my fellow movie bloggers thought over here:

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11 thoughts on “[Review] Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

  1. Wahoo, glad you enjoyed this one and totally agree w/ your praise about Serkis, he definitely makes the movie IMO. Hey thanks for the link love as well, you’re the best!

    1. You’re welcome 🙂

      Who knows whether he’ll receive an Oscar nomination but Serkis has proved his talent to thousands and thousands of people with this fantastic performance.

  2. I am surprised to find myself agreeing with Claire on this one – and on the basis of only having seen the trailer! In it Serkis brings a screen presence greater than the ‘humans’. It is enough to convince me to see the film – which I was not intending to do, as none of the previous efforts did anything for me. Amazing!

    1. Hi Mike, thanks for stopping by.

      Do you think you’ll be able to catch it on the big screen? I’m already planning my next trip to see it! It really was a feat of CGI and motion capture acting. Serkis is a versatile man!

  3. Such a great movie and probably my favorite of all the blockbusters I saw this year, with Super 8 coming as a close second.

    The CGI is great in closeups (especially the Orang Oetang as he looked completely real), but on the wide shots it seems less detailed, but the movie probably would have been way too expensive. 🙂

    1. I honestly thought that the orangutan and gorilla were real! I know they did their research before filming but wowser, they did seriously good.

      Do you think they’ll do a sequel, Nostra? I reckon they might do as it was left quite open. If it is up to this film’s standard, I wouldn’t mind a sequel 🙂

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