December 21, 2011

Filthy Review - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Review by Jude Felton

As a wee young lad I remember spying Pierre Boulle’s Monkey Planet on my Dad’s book shelf. This led to me watching the subsequent movies it inspired and, although only Planet of the Apes really sticks in my memory, I became a fan. As much as Charles Heston et al stuck in my mind, they also ingrained themselves in the public consciousness. From the merchandise they spawned to the influences and homage’s in movies made since.

Inevitably Planet of the Apes was remade, in 2001, with Tim Burton at the helm. Now, this should have been a good thing, Burton is one of the more visually arresting director’s working today, but despite this the movie ended up being not very memorable. I certainly didn’t hate it, I just really don’t remember an awful lot about it.

This all brings us around to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Boulle’s work is once again the reference point, but this time directed by the relative newcomer in English director Rupert Wyatt. Expectation levels, from myself, weren’t all that high. However, the trailers that preceeded this movie’s release did indeed show a lot of promise.

In the movie Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease by experimenting on apes. He is driven due to his own father suffering from the illness. The experiments work far better than he anticipates, and to skirt around too much plot, result in one particular ape’s, named Caeser, intelligence sky-rocketing. This enhanced intelligence will ultimately backfire, of course, on its creator once Caeser finds himself imprisoned.

What we end up with though is one of the most enjoyable films I have seen in quite a while. The story may be familiar, the central them itself is nothing new, but the execution is just wonderful, with everything held together by a quite astounding performance by Andy Serkis as Caeser. I promise you that you will find yourself mesmerized by the subtleties of this performance.

Serkis is ably supported by the seriously underrated James Franco, as well as supporting turns by veterans Brian Cox and John Lithgow. I personally would have liked to have seen both Cox’s and Lithgow’s roles expanded slightly, as I felt they were underused in terms of what they are both capable of.

On a first glance it might be the visuals that you take away from this movie, and they are quite stunning for the most part. They do show a few flaws in the latter stages but not enough to spoil the movie for you. The visuals, however, are not the movie’s strongest point though in my eyes. That would go to the emotional depth that Serkis manages to infuse into his role as Caeser. Relying on purely on the actions of his character, we aren’t talking about the talking Apes of Franklin J. Schaeffer’s movie here, he manages to convey everything to the audience.

In a time when many so-called blockbuster movies prove to be nothing more than soulless affairs, here is one that defies the expectations and delivers on just about all fronts. Quite simply I thought this was an excellent film. Highly recommended.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is available now on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

1 comment:

jervaise brooke hamster said...

Merry Christmas my old mate.