Saturday, January 14, 2012

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - 5 out of 5

Sadly, I never got to see this in the theater and after watching it on DVD, I really regret not scrimping together the necessary cash to see it.  When I first saw the trailer, I was sold.  I love the 1968 classic starring Charlton Heston.  When I first saw it as a child, I was filled with wonder as some wayward astronauts found a planet filled with talking apes...and then I was shocked to discover it was Earth all along!!!

"Hey buddy...what's that in your hand you're about to fling at me?"

The following sequels to Planet of the Apes were...well...not the best.  Weak is the word I would use to describe them as they never really captured the magic of the original and the origin tale on how apes were able to evolve into man-like talking beings was the weakest of all as it relied on the ultimate sci-fi cliche:  Time travel.  Disappointment is another word I'll throw out there as it describes the horrible remake Tim Burton did to the classic film.  Marky Mark is not capable as an actor to fill Heston's shoes but I do applaud Burton for the restraint he showed by not putting his wife in the movie.  Image, Johnny Depp in a Planet of the Apes movie.

"I'm sorry you had to see this, Rodman.  They usually don't hump this much."

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a reboot to the franchise and giving a new origin to how we got "a planet where apes evolved from men."  Forgoing time travel as an explanation, Rise of the Planet of the Apes sees a young researcher named Will Rodman (James Franco) coming up with a drug to wipe out Alzheimer's (a diseased his father, played by the amazing John Lithgow, suffers from).  During the trials, he tests on chimpanzees and one of the test subjects has a child that has the effects of the drug already written on his DNA.  Naming the chimp Caesar, Rodman raises and forms a bond with the ape as he uses the drug to cure his father.  However, as the disease begins to move faster than the drug, Rodman is forced to come up with a better version of the drug all the while Caesar is learning the dark side of humanity.

Harry and the Hendersons prepared Lithgow for this role.

After a series of events, Rodman is forced to give up Caesar to a ape sanctuary and Caesar sees the true evil that lurks inside humans and rallies his fellow simians to his cause.  Using the new version of the drug, Caesar exposes his fellow primates to the wonders of higher learning and exposes them to all out rebellion.  The army of apes terrorize the city as they attempt to break free of the bonds the humans placed upon them.

Hey, it's that mean prissy kid from Harry Potter.

Like I stated before, when I saw the trailer I was sold because it not only reminded me of all the wonder that made the film that started it all awesome but the trailer offered a much darker look at the journey to Planet of the Apes, not to mention it offered a much better explanation of the take over than Conquest of the Planet of the Apes offered.  After finally getting a chance to sit down and watch the movie, I was blown away by how entertaining it was.  Watching Caesar grow, mature and see the ugliness that resides in the world, I started to feel for the ape and wanted to join the primates in revolt.

That's a whole lot of bad-ass in one pic.

Not only did I find the story solid and entertaining, the acting brought forth was incredible as well.  First off, you have James Franco and we all know how bad-ass he is, so no surprises there.  Also, John Lithgow is in it and he's awesome too, so we'll move on.  The man who was the first Hannibal Lector on screen, Brian Cox, had a small part too and he's great, so nothing surprising there either.  But the most important thing to mention is the fact that the man who gave life to Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy plays Caesar.  Not only did the special effects do a tremendous job of rendering all the apes to look real (and seriously, there were times I couldn't tell if they were CG or not) but Andy Serkis' acting (even though his actions were converted to pixels) was spectacular.  Congrats to Andy because he can now say that he played an ape in a GOOD movie.  He couldn't say that when he played the King in Peter Jackson's King Kong.

Way to go Serkis!  I bet Game Stop won't be over-flooded with DVD copies of this one
like the last movie you played an ape in.

Ape hero shot.  Somehow, this shot alone looks
better and tougher than The Expendables 2.
The acting becomes the film's greatest achievement, especially when the battle of the apes takes place.  Now, I can't speak ape but the acting that occurs (even though it's all CG) really sells across the screen.  I found myself getting sucked up into the action and, it wasn't until the dust settled as the credits rolled, did it really hit me that I was watching scenes that could have popped right off a generic action film's reel but they were being done with primates (and some of the ape's grunts were more dignified than what some action stars spout out).  Hero shots, jumping in front of fire to save another, bad-ass poses as the heroes watch danger come flying at them--they were all here and, at no point due to being so engrossed in the film, did I ever call shenanigans and say this is just silly.  Serkis and the other performers who brought the apes to life did such a tremendous job, there is no way I can sum up how great they were.

Foreshadowing?
With a great story, unbelievable acting (from both the computerized guys and flesh and blood ones) and real emotion that only makes the action sequence in the third act all the more sweeter, Rise of the Planet of the Apes definitely makes for a fun film to watch.  The movie, in my opinion, not only does justice to its predecessor, it also opens the door to more sequels and more chances to watch as the world becomes over run with those "damn dirty apes."  However, I enjoyed the movie so much that I, for one, welcome our new ape overlords.

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