Scientist Will Rodman is determined to find a cure for Alzheimer's, the disease which has slowly consumed his father. Will feels certain he is close to a breakthrough and tests his latest serum on apes, noticing dramatic increases in intelligence and brain activity in the primate subjects – especially Caesar, his pet chimpanzee.
|Release Date||:||August 3, 2011|
|Genres||:||Thriller, Action, Drama, Science Fiction|
|Production Company||:||Ingenious Film Partners, Ingenious Media, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Dune Entertainment, Dune Entertainment III, Chernin Entertainment, Big Screen Productions|
|Production Countries||:||United States of America|
|Director||:||Rupert Wyatt, Jessica Clothier, Andrea Devaux, Christine Wilson, Linda Strathdee|
|Writers||:||Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Pierre Boulle|
|Casts||:||James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Andy Serkis, David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris, Ty Olsson, David Hewlett, Chelah Horsdal, Jesse Reid, Joey Roche, Madison Bell, Makena Joy, B.J. Harrison, Mattie Hawkinson, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Richard Ridings, Christopher Gordon, Devyn Dalton, Jay Caputo, Leah Gibson, Tracy Spiridakos, Chris Shields, Lauren Watson|
|Plot Keywords||:||intelligence, zoo, cage, dystopia, golden gate bridge, ape, monkey, medical research, alzheimer's disease|
Disaster movies are a dime a dozen now a days. We have seen an influx of Alien takeovers recently and it is getting a bit stale I must admit. Don't get me wrong, I love films about ET's taking over, but Hollywood has beaten that horse to death. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is a welcome change to this trend pitting us measly humans against our closest ancestors, Great Apes. Directed by Rupert Wyatt ("The Escapist") and supported by the unbelievable WETA Digital ("King Kong", "Lord of the Rings", "Avatar") for special effects. "Apes" is a wonder of motion capture, an intelligent heart felt script with great direction. Unfortunately, the human actors left a lot to be desired. But this film isn't about the humans, it's all about the Simians.
As plots go, this is pretty basic. James Franco plays Will Rodman, a brilliant scientist with a breakthrough drug that just may cure Alzheimer's. Rodman and his team are using chimpanzee's to test this new drug and in the process find out that it increases intelligence as well as repair cells in the brain. One of the test subjects gets loose in an intense sequence and ultimately put down. It turns out that she had just given birth to a beautiful baby chimp who inherited this new "altered" gene. Rodman decides the only moral thing to do is to take the baby home while a co-worker tries to find a sanctuary but once Rodman finds out that this little ball of fur has the intelligence of a human child twice it's age he decides to keep and raise the chimp as a child. It's only a matter of time that our chimp Caesar figures out he is not like the other children in the neighborhood. Rodman is forced to give up Caesar to an "Ape Sanctuary" and there begins some of the most exhilarating revolutionary action I've ever seen.
Technically, this film is massive. The work WETA Digital did with motion capture (mo-cap) is truly a wonder to behold. Visual Effects Supervisor with WETA Digital Joe Letteri stated that they built on the technology used in "Avatar" to produce the most realistic and accurate portrayal of the actors suited to play the Simians. Andy Serkis (Gollum from "Lord of the Rings" and Kong from "King Kong") plays chimp Caesar. Serkis manages to fool all of us into believing he is a real animal with super intelligence. His facial emotions and mannerisms should most certainly nominate him for an Oscar. There is a real connection that the audience feels with Caesar and it is all thanks to Serkis' work. Without such an experienced mo-cap actor, this film would not have been such a success.
Not only is the technology used to create the revolution amazing, the action is top notch as well. Many times I found myself with my jaw on the floor from the intense sequences put to screen. Everything from a simple terrifying look from an angry ape to the full out battle on the Golden Gate Bridge was pulled off without a hitch. Many points to the pacing of the films action as it could have been the crutch that killed this beast of a film. One of the most amazing scenes in my opinion is when a group of apes are fleeing over top a suburban neighborhood through the trees. While this is going on we see some people on the street while leaves upon leaves are falling to the ground. This level of detail is apparent in every shot, brilliant work by the production team.
My only problems with this film is the acting from Franco and Freida Pinto, who plays the love interest. They both seemed to "phone it in" as it were. They were not overly impressive and just seemed stale. Maybe the director wanted them to tone it down so that Serkis would have more of an impact acting as a voiceless chimp. Either way, as I said in the beginning, this film wasn't about the humans. It's about compassion, freedom and understanding and on those levels the film is a grand success.