Friday 12 August 2011

207: Review - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes poster

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
12th August 2011. Location: Cinema


RotPotA works on the tried and tested Hollywood staples of:

• Wonder-cures for important illnesses are not to be trusted
• Pharmaceutical / BioTech companies are not to be trusted
• The British CEOs of those companies are not to be trusted
• People who run animal sanctuaries are not to be trusted
• Chimps are awesome
• The best way for a virus to spread worldwide is to make the carrier an actual airline pilot

I don't need to tell you the plot if you've seen the trailer and combine it with those bullet points up there. It's a fairly straightforward setup of Man Improves Monkey / Monkey Realises Man is an Arsehole / Monkey Destroys Man.

In fact, if you've seen Jurassic Park and I am Legend, you've pretty much seen this. The story and character archetypes are fairly identikit, so what makes the movie so watchable is the performance of (most of) the principal actors. Franco, Lithgow and (of course) Serkis are all on top form. Everyone else is so-so, but that's all that's needed really.

The real star of the film is Caesar, which is to say Serkis and the team(s) of CGIers who have brought Caesar to life. With the possible exception of the super-chimp's first swing-around-the-house sequence, he (and the apes in general) are pretty flawless. Well, to my eye anyhow.

Once the action heats up, it's also notable that the apes don't actually kill that many people. They maintain the moral-highground for the whole movie, and it'll be interesting to see how they develop into the segregated species that we saw in the original PotA. In this prequel, any violence they mete out is justified by the Nasty People Who Don't Understand, and the eradication of the human race is taken care of by the Mark II Serum, which is great for chimps, and bad for humans. The final credits-sequence is pretty clumsy, given that they could have got another movie out of the plague. I'm sure they'll go for another movie anyway, but there was no real need to remind the audience that the killer-virus was on the loose.

The Good: Almost every scene with the apes in. Caesar is more engaging than many human actors I've seen this year.

The Bad: No surprises in the plot at all. It doesn't help that you know what's coming up later in the timeline, but with the presence of GenSys Pharmaceuticals, they've pulled out all the generic plot devices that you'd expect to go with it. Including...

The Ugly: David Oyelowo as evil, British company CEO Jacobs. I'm sure he can act, but it seems like he either phoned the performance in, or director Rupert Wyatt wasn't happy until he played every scene like a baddie from Mission Impossible/Resident Evil.

After the Credits: No extra scenes. There's the airport scene after the main credit-splash, but once you get to the rolling names, you can get out of there.

In and of itself, it's not outstanding, but it's worth watching for all the things they've done right.


Oh, and the film has introduced one new staple to the Hollywood canon:

• Tom Felton will now be typecast as a nasty piece for the rest of his life.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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