By Julian Virgona
A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a science-fiction film directed by Rupert Wyatt and released on 4th of August 2011. The movie stars James Franco, John Lithgow, Draco Malfoy himself, Tom Felton and Andy Serkis as the main character and hero of the story, the chimp Caesar. This movie acts as a prequel to the entire Planet of the Apes series.
I went into Rise of the Planet of the Apes not expecting too much from it. Based on the trailer (below), I expected it to be good, but not great, since I had only ever read about the Planet of the Apes movie and the series. However, I was completely and utterly wrong.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells the story of a scientist Will Rodman (portrayed by James Franco) as he is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. He and his company are testing their drug designed to give the brain the capability to rebuild itself on Chimps, leading to Will taking in a chimp he names Caesar. Having already been exposed to the drug, Caesar soon shows extreme intelligence. This then leads on to the very interesting and epic events of the movie.
I hardly have anything bad to say about the story of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. In fact, I don’t think I have many negative things to say at all. The story itself is amazing. Straight from the start, you are encapsulated by it, both because of the introduction that pretty much gives the viewer an idea on what is happening in the company, and the epic action scene that occurs a few minutes in.
You’d expect a movie containing these sorts of science experiments and chemicals to be confusing right? Well, Rise of the Planet of the Apes makes sure you are never confused, at least in terms of the science stuff. Some little bits and pieces can be a little bit hazy, but the movie clearly explains the whole idea of the drug and how it works, so you aren’t left trying to work out what the hell is going on with the Chimps getting super-smart.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a prequel. It’s as simple as that. However, it’s a prequel that doesn’t expect you to have seen the previous Planet of the Apes films, the first being released in 1968. This is explaining how the Apes took over. It’s what a proper prequel should be. You don’t need to know many plot points from the other films to understand it, but there are still some slight nods to the old films to make fans giggle or gawk.
My favourite thing about watching movies are the ‘ooh’ moments and Rise of the Planet of the Apes is full of them. This is a very epic movie with a few intense action sequences and many scenes that keep you on the edge of your seat. This was actually the first movie to make my jaw drop in shock or amazement. Also, I won’t ruin the ending, but it will definitely make you say ‘What?’ before you realise what just happened.
In terms of acting, again this movie is spectacular. However, I’m not talking about the usual acting from the humans in the film. I’m referring to the apes. That’s right. A lot of people would expect the main focus of this film to be on the humans as they fight the apes or as they conduct experiment after experiment on the creatures but no, the main character in this film is Caesar. He is the main focus for nearly the entire movie and you find yourself getting on the side of the chimps. Throughout the movie you gain compassion and empathy for Caesar and the other apes as you see and begin to feel what they are going through. This leads on to a point where you actually find yourself cheering them on as they plan to escape from their cages in one of the later scenes of the film.
The acting by Andy Serkis as he takes on Caesar is truly amazing. The entire film is done in motion capture and CGI, so every facial expression, every chimp-like movement is done by actors and brought to life by the studio behind the amazing visual effects of King Kong and Avatar, Weta Digital. Many would know Serkis as Gollum from the Lord of the Rings and in this movie he does not fail to disappoint. His movements and expression make the CGI Caesar look even more realistic than he already does. This just builds on how much you care for him as you see him evolve throughout the film.
The only bad thing I could find about the acting was actually a funny one. Sometimes you could hear Tom Felton’s British accent in amongst his well put-on American accent, but I think I’m just nitpicking now.
In conclusion, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a spectacular movie. Simple as that, it was amazing to watch. It is the type of movie that makes you feel and relate to the main character and you know a movie has done well when it gets you to start caring for a chimp. It’s the type of movie makes you feel epic and want to fight off a ton of bad guys in spectacular fashion as you leave the cinema.
Honestly, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of my favourite movies and probably my favourite I’ve seen this year, and that’s including Harry Potter 7 Part 2 (which was also a great movie). I’m not sure whether or not this will be used as a basis to reboot the Planet of the Apes series and but if they do decide to make a sequel, I really hope it is as good as this, if not, better!
I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is a fan of the old series or of science-fiction in general. 4½ Stars
Do you think the Apes Will Rise? – Check out the movie’s official website