Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The recent 2001 attempt of a reboot/remake of this saga was Tim Burton and it sounded promising his dark Gothic outlook could create something interesting. Unfortunately it was rather like Mark Wahlberg’s confused face in The Happening (Its not a good film)
So when I got this out on DVD I had a feeling of hope, made stronger by the large amount of positive comments about the film upon release, that this would at least be good. Robert Wyatt is the man in the directors chair and before this film I had not heard of him. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (can I shorten that to RPA? cheers.) needed a front man to follow that of Charlton Heston’s performance in the original. James Franco was first really noticed in that Spiderman trilogy starting way back in the year of 2002, he went on to do stronger films including the wonderful Milk and a great solo performance in 127 hours.
Such of the success of gollum and King Kong’s motion capture Andy Serkis got to put on the futuristic looking jumpsuit again playing the main ape Caesar. Other actors involved include slumdog star Frieda Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox and Tom Felton in first role since the end of Harry Potter.
RPA is a prequel/remake/reboot its set before the events of the original however it also takes influence from some of the 1970’s sequels, and then the story lends itself to a reboot in creating more sequels. We begin at a drug experiment center where test on apes take place in order to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Eventually it seems a drug has caused significant improvement in an apes behavior, only for it to go berserk and die. Will Rodman (James Franco) discovers the baby of the recently deceased ape and takes it home. He names it Caesar and over 8 years he shows sign of extreme intelligence, he is then forced into a sanctuary where Caesar meets fellow apes and raises an army against the humans.
For me the strongest performance of the film was Andy Serkis in his great role of Caesar, he really is the man for CGI creatures and he makes the ape believable. James Franco is decent but I feel It may have been a slight bit of miscasting as I struggle to see him as this scientist character, nevertheless he holds it up quite well. Freida Pinto is wasted, her character is given virtually nothing to go on. In a short montage we learn she is a primatologist so she can help with Caesar and in doing so falls in love with Will. This character is terribly weak and there is not much Freida Pinto can do given the short amount of screen time. John Lithgow delivers a good performance as Wills sick father and Brian Cox is equally up to his role of the Sanctuary owner. Tom Felton on the other hand is not so good, perhaps still trying to brush Draco Malfoy of his shoulders, I was never fully convinced by his ape bullying character.
RPA im sure goes somewhere to wiping away major ape fans memories of Tim Burtons attempt, for me it was miles better than it and is similar to how I felt with Prometheus in that its no less than we deserved. It falls short when we have some slightly irritating plots and weak characters. For example the annoying neighbor who gets disturbed but then does nothing about it, until right at the end of the film that is, and not wanting to bring it up too much but Freida Pinto’s wasted character. Overall its a solid film that is enjoyable but is let down by poor characterization.