I was a huge fan of Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 film, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” He successfully restarted a franchise that had been lying dormant since Burton’s laughably awful “reimagining” in 2001 of the original film franchise. Wyatt’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” explores the origins of the super-smart primates, the first steps of the demise of the human race, and the rise of hyper-intelligent super apes that will (spoiler alert!) eventually take over the world.
Ben Affleck has become quite the accomplished filmmaker, with each film he has shown amazing chops, growing and expanding as a storyteller. With ‘Argo,’ Affleck steps out of Boston, and shows that the city isn’t his muse, that he can make excellent films no matter where they take place.
Argo tells the story of the recently declassified operation that set out to save six embassy staff that escaped the takeover of the US Embassy in Iran, during the Iranian revolution. While the rest of the embassy is taken hostage, the six escapees are taken in by the Canadian ambassador, hiding out till the State Department can come up with a plan.
Director Rupert Wyatt only has one other feature film to his name, ‘The Escapist,’ so to hand over the reigns of such a big property like Planet of the Apes is definitely a big risk on the part of the studios. It shows that perhaps we’ve reached a time where the studios are finally seeing that with risk comes reward, and ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes,’ is evidence of that.
Unlike most summer fare, there are two writers credited for ‘Apes,’ Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver. Often times summer films are written and rewritten, with the message getting lost. That is not the case here.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist whose been working to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, testing his genetically engineered virus on chimpanzees. The virus gives an uncanny level of intelligence to the test subjects. One of the subjects becomes extremely violent, and it is revealed that it was all to protect her baby.
The chimp is killed, and the study is shut down. When Will learns of the baby chimpanzee, he takes it home. As he studies the growing chimp, he learns that the intelligence has been passed down, and that Caesar is at times surpassing the intelligence of his human counterparts.
Will continues his research, and years pass. Caesar connects with the family, and with Will’s father, Charles (John Lithgow). Suddenly, an incident occurs, and Caesar is taken into custody.
This is where things start to fall apart.
Caesar, played by Andy Serkis, is entirely computer animated, all of the animal effects in this film are better than I have ever seen. The emotion you feel when Caesar is separated from his family is great, best CGI performance since Serkis’ turn as Gollum.
The films weakest link is the character of Caroline, a veterinary doctor played by Freida Pinto. Her character is completely under developed, and her dialogue just takes you out of the film. In an otherwise excellent plot development, her purpose other than a romantic interest for Will, and it just felt tacked on.
As far as tying in to the rest of the series, it has been a long time since I’ve seen the original, but it definitely feels like this film fits. You definitely feel for the side of the apes throughout, while I do feel like in the other films, it was Humans against Apes, so as an audience, you’re in a bit of a conundrum. While the film alleges (slight spoiler alert) that Human’s are at fault for their own destruction, it is the actions of a select few that cause the eventual demise – but everyone has to pay for those actions. As humans, we are put in a tough spot, but I’ll tell you one thing, this film definitely has the support of groups like PETA.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is definitely a standout in what has quite the entertaining summer. I highly recommend this film to all.
‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes,’ the new ‘Apes’ prequel/reboot from 20th Century released a trailer today. The film takes place in the present day, and shows how animal testing leads to the….you guessed it…Rise of the Apes.
I’m not sure how to feel about this film. I’ve never been a huge fan of the series, and I found Burton’s “reimaginging” absolutely abysmal. I saw director Rupert Wyatt’s film ‘The Escapist‘ at the Independent Film Festival of Boston last year, and really enjoyed it. This film however…well, I’ll just have to wait and see.
Writer and director Scott Frank, (‘The Lookout,’) has spoken about his latest project, a new film in the ‘Planet of the Apes’ series.
There have been rumors that the movie would be a remake of ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes,’ but in a new interview with CHUD, Frank says the film is not a remake, and is a new chapter in the series, coming a hundreds of years before the first Apes film.
‘Caesar,’ is a solid, no-nonsense science fiction story, about the science that would create a planet of apes at some point in the future. Frank says his goal is to tell the story in a way that makes you feel for the titular simian character. Will it work? I don’t know. Am I fascinated? Definitely. Scott Frank is one of the few filmmakers that I’d be interested in seeing what he does with the series and the story. -Sam
Say what you will about Charlton Heston’s politics, he was a great actor. When Chuck took the screen, you couldn’t take your eyes off the guy. So, it was sad news to hear that he had died. [Read more…]