“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Rupert Wyatt / Actors: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton ... / DVD released 2012-02-27 at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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I have a funky little credit card that gives you points for everything you put on it. In tradition fashion, points mean prizes, which is good as the other tradition would be that points mean you lose your driving licence. Those "prizes" generally come in the form of vouchers from numerous places and as you get to choose where they come from, I get Amazon vouchers. My latest haul from Amazon was £35 worth of films and books from my wish list. I'm not a huge film person, but there are a few films I've held an interest in. Before I started on that pile, however, I decided it was only proper to watch a film that I've had for nearly a year without ever watching. This is how I came to plug in Rise of the Planet of the Apes a couple of nights ago. Huzzah
Are you from outer space? Then you may not know the general plot of the original Planet of the Apes film from 1968! A group of human astronauts (who have been travelling close to the speed of light for about 18 months from their point of view) crash land on a planet ruled over by Apes who look a lot more like humans than the normal Ape. Thanks to a freak trick of physics, the rest of the universe has been ageing much faster and they realise quite quickly that it's actually the year 3978. To cut a long story very, very short (mostly because everyone on this planet knows the outcome) it turns out that the planet they have crashed into is actually a post-apocalyptic earth. Humans have done what they were destined to do and ruined the place and the species of Ape smacked them down. Huzzah. Between this film and 1973, another four films were released with varying amounts of success. One of these films was Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Conquest of the Planet of the Apes was a prequel dealing with Apes rebelling from being kept as pets after everyone's dog's and cat's died. Keep that in mind for later. There were also a couple of spin off T.V programmes but eventually all the hype stopped and the series took a rather long break.
In 2001 Tim Burton attempted a re-imagining of Planet of the Apes and must have failed as I've never heard of it. In 2011, however, a new director decided to Re-boot the series as is generally done nowadays since we can't really think of cool new things. The reboot came in the form of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This film is basically a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (but officially they won't call it a remake even if the only difference I can see between "remake" and "reboot" is that reboot comes with intent to remake the entire series of films and not just one) in that it is set at the beginning of what will become Planet of the Apes. In the rebooted film series, the next film "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is due out in July this year.
As the name may suggest, Rise of the Planet of the Apes deals with how Apes became to be evolved enough to take over the planet. In fact it's quite clear from the first few minutes of the film that it's due to genetic testing. Dr Will Rodman (played by James Franco who plays Oz in the recent Oz the Great and Powerful) is trying to cure his father's Alzheimer's disease. They are testing on chimps that seem to be becoming much more intelligent with the help of an engineered virus. Alas one of the test subjects, a chimp named Bright Eyes (which was a nod towards the original film where an Ape gives the main character this nickname) goes a bit nuts when they are presenting the idea to investors and the mean boss Jacobs (named after the producer of the original film) has all the test subjects put down. After all of the chimps are killed, they discover a newborn chimp hidden in bright eye's cell and realise she was just trying to protect her baby. Rather than pointing this out to Jacobs, Will decides the best idea would be to take the little guy home, call him Caesar and study him since he's managed to inherit some of the intelligence-boosting virus given to his mother.
Will is rather naughty and gives Caesar (who is "played" by Andy Serkis; he was the guy who did the movements for the CGI and did the same for Lord of the Rings' Gollum) continued treatments. Caesar's intelligence grows to the point where Will is convinced to give the treatment to his father and it works fantastically.
You may be wondering what went so wrong here. What in this perfect little scenario leads to Ape Rebellion? Well, you'll probably be able to guess it before it gets there, but I won't ruin the whole thing for you. You'll need to watch the film for that.
It's a 12 rating but if you don't mind your kids seeing a little violence then its mostly suitable for everyone. Personally I don't see it being overly violent and you could use it to talk to your kids about animal rights.
===A few notable people===
I was surprised at the amount of faces I recognised in this film. The main one that took me off guard was David Hewlett. He plays Will's neighbour who is portrayed to be very obnoxious and highly strung, though if you actually think about it, you'd probably go nuts if someone's chimp broke into your garage too. Hewlett is a main character from Stargate Atlantis which is a series I adore so I couldn't really hate his character at all. I will say that Hewlett plays highly strung very well; his Stargate character is pretty obnoxious and highly strung, but loveable all the same. It did mean (for me at least) that I couldn't quite get behind hating his character, but I'm sure most people will have no problem.
James Franco as Will was (as pretty as he is) a bit grating and simple but I haven't really seemed to like him in most stuff I've seen of his. I couldn't really believe most of what his character did so I didn't really connect much with the character. I'm overjoyed to hear he has a lot of projects due to come out in 2014 so it looks like his face is going to be around a lot this year. Yay. The character seemed to have no guilt about what he was doing, despite it being completely against the ethics of scientists almost everywhere.
Tom Felton (better known as Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter's white haired enemy) also appears as an equally snivelling and punch-worthy character, Dodge Landon. His character's name is a reference to two characters from the original film and he's also a huge driving force behind a building hatred towards humans in the film. Brain Cox also plays Landon's father who is also a regrettable specimen of a human being. Felton's acting has never been fantastic in my opinion and I did find him to be a little bit panto-villain-esq with how over the top he was. I guess that's what the writing called for though. Hmm.
John Lithgow (3rd rock from the sun and Trinity from Dexter) plays Will's father rather brilliantly, showing both the incredibly vulnerable side of his mental condition and his exceptional recovery. I had a little trouble liking him too much though as in my head he'll always be Trinity, who was fantastically evil. That being said, he was at least believable in his role and I didn't want to punch him. I do think his decline into poor mental health could have been done a little better. In a film that seemed to enjoy drawing everything out, this part was done in about 30 seconds worth of footage.
===A few thoughts I was thinking===
The first thing I thought from the very start of the film was that the CGI was complete pants. Don't get me wrong, it's fantastic. But it's nowhere near good enough to believe at any point that any of the monkey-types are real. It's glaringly obvious that the monkeys are all CGI to the point that even some of the scenes of them falling through the air from trees seem to go too slow to give it a plausible sense of gravity. That annoyed me to no end and it made it near on impossible for Allan to enjoy the film because he couldn't connect with the obviously fake monkeys at all. That being said, all the inanimate things blowing up near the end of the film looked perfectly convincing. I'm not sure what it says about us as a species that we've practiced destruction to the point of having it look perfect on screen but we still can't nail living things. Oh well!
Another thing that bugged me was that the Apes were clearly more intelligent than me to begin with, with a few of them speaking in sign language. Mostly it was quite easy to understand what they were trying to communicate but there was at least one scene where I was genuinely clueless about what those damn dirty apes were trying to say to each other. They could have (and should have) used some subtitles for us thickos like they did in Congo (at least I remember there being subtitles in that film when the ape signed, I might be wrong!)
Mainly, however, my thoughts wandered to how slowly the film progresses. It really does meander through the relationship between Caesar and Will, with all of the exciting stuff happening quite near the end and then a major plot point being dealt with in only a couple of very short scenes and what was essentially a computer generated flow chart in the end credits. I'm pretty sure they could have easily concentrated a bit more on what happened after the Apes rebel. Even the sequel will be jumping in a good ten years after the events of the first film so I'm left feeling like there will be huge unexplored gaps. Those gaps will be quite easily filled in by your own imagination, but it would have been nice to maybe cut some of the boring stuff and put a fuller picture forward to the audience. Allan summed up the film afterwards something along the lines of "Apes get smart, Apes run away over a bridge, end" and it's fairly accurate. Any film that can be summed up so succinctly probably has a lot of filler in there.
===Would I watch it again?===
Probably not any time soon if I'm being honest, though that's not to say I hated it. I enjoyed it, but I think once is definitely enough to pick everything up. It has, however, made me interested in seeing the sequel. I feel that the Rise of the Planet of the Apes isn't really finished. The Apes have not quite finished rising. The planet does not yet belong to them so I want to know more.
That's the film dealt with. Was the DVD well put together? Yes. The main menu is incredibly simple with a close up picture of Caesar in the background and you have three options to choose from while some orchestral music trumpets away in the background: Play, Setup and Scene. Each of the options are very straightforward with nothing unexpected. There are no extras to be had and no "Easter eggs" (hidden menus) to be found on the disc. You'll be able to get subtitles from the setup menu but I haven't checked if the subtitles show what the apes are saying. That and I wouldn't have wanted to watch the whole movie with subtitles for that one bit that I didn't quite grasp. The lack of extras is always a bit of a shame on a DVD, in saying that I wasn't overly upset by it in this instance as I wasn't so excited by this film that I didn't want it to end.
The film plays in widescreen letterbox mode which is fine for us as we have a large television but might be a bit of a pain if you have a smaller one.
I picked this one up on a trip to Tesco (which is rare since most of my DVD's come from online retailers). They had it on offer for £3 at the time so I couldn't really say no! You can pick it up online for much the same price and even cheaper if you can find someone that gives you free postage.
The film was ok but the lack of anything really exciting happening till near the end coupled with the unrealistic primates loses it a couple of stars. The DVD itself is simple but well put together so there are no complaints there unless you are hungry for extras. It's got me interested enough to want to see the next one, though I can't say I'll be eager to see this one again any time soon. Good for a one off watch! Three stars out of five from me.
Star - James Franco
Genre - SC1 - FI
County - USA
Certificate - PG13
Run Time - 105 minutes
Oscars - One nomination
Blockbusters - £2.00 per night
Amazon - £6.07p DVD (£10.20 Blue Ray)
As any football fan will tell you, discovering there is equine DNA in your burger is not a big surprise. I once picked a horseshoe out of a sesame bun at Hatlepool United! In fact I have eaten horse at a BBQ in South Africa, fresh out of the paddock, rather nice if cooked right. Maybe it's a delicacy in Poland and they simply wanted to share their recipe with Tesco's (and all major supermarkets)!!! Whatever is going on in the contamination of the food chain the controversy is always the same - we don't like to eat cute animals we have empathy for. The domestic cats in Britain kill six million innocent birds a year yet it's the cat that gets the cream because they are so cute. A donkey sanctuary in Devon gets three times as many donations as Help the Aged?
So if we go by that intrinsic human emotion that beauty and intelligence is the most important trait in animals then how will a multiplex feel about watching chimps going up against human firepower. Can you even make a movie where and ape could get blown to pieces? But the very fact movie people are extremely reticent to kill animals since Bambi that reticence was the only reason the 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' works. If it had of been a shoot em it would have been lost in B-Movie hell. You simple can't shoot Cheetah in the head in front of a packed Saturday night cinema crowd.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, rather refreshingly, is not another remake of the classic - and rather terrifying - Charlton Heston movie but the genesis to all the films that have gone before, and so not that loyal to the French book La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle. The scene where Heston rides the horse on the beach to come upon the Statue of Liberty peeping out of the sand has never gone away from my mind. Through some trickery the six years dead Heston cheekily appears in this movie, the fifth time he has been in the Planet of the Apes franchise.
No, this is very different and comes from the tangent of how the apes got their brains in the first place to take over the planet and explores the beginning of their new and unexpected evolutionary path, the origin story. Because of that, the film is, at least, plausible this time, if not as foreboding.
James Franco ... Will Rodman
Freida Pinto ... Caroline Aranha
John Lithgow ... Charles Rodman
Brian Cox ... John Landon
Andy Serkis ... Caesar
Terry Notary ... Rocket / Bright Eyes
Richard Ridings ... Buck
Christopher Gordon ... Koba
Devyn Dalton ... Cornelia
Jay Caputo ... Alpha
David Oyelowo ... Steven Jacobs
Jamie Harris ... Rodney
Dr Will Rodman (James Franco) is a driven man, trying to find the cure for Alzheimer's, his father Charles (John Lithgow) a late stage sufferer and living with him at home. Will experiments on primates and has had a breakthrough, a chimp called 'Bright Eyes' showing increased intelligence and memory from an administered experimental drug. But when the chief exec of the facility (David Oyelowo) is pressured to rush through the drug on Rodman's say so towards human trial disaster strikes and the facility nearly shutdown for wanted reckless behavior and all the chimps put down in Rodman's labs, accept one, Bright Eyes little baby smuggled out of the lockdown by Rodman.
3 years later and the Doc works from home on the same research and Caesar (Andy Serkis), the baby in question, living with them and starting to show increased intelligence, like nothing Will has seen before. It seems genetic transference from Bright Eyes has taken place. As the bond grows between the three Will takes the risk of developing a drug to try on his dad, that miraculously works, dad able to play the piano again and seemingly cured, Rodman racing back to the lab to break the news to the boss to begin trials.
5 years later and the diseases is coming back to dad and the chimp hyper intelligent, able to do complex tasks. Its no longer about the drug but the inadvertent creation of a super chimp, who, after committing a violent act to Wills neighbor, has outgrown the house and has to go into a primate pound, run by sadistic proprieties John Landon (Brian Cox) and Rodney (Jamie Harris), hardly the caring facility its made out. And its here Caesar makes some primate friends and quickly rises through the pecking order to plan their escape.
Like Toby McGuire's Spiderman, the film hangs on the CGI, if you excuse the pun. The good news is it works pretty well and director Rupert Wyatt's effects impressive enough to put the apes in the public space we know, especially when they almost stand up straight to ape human characteristics and body language. It's believed to be the first live action movie where the completely digitally created creatures have been able to express thought, emotion and that intelligence on screen, effectively coming alive, rather fittingly. That was not the case for Tim Burton's 2001 version where a bitchy make up lady said hairy Goth Helena Bonham Carter didn't have to wear much prosthetic make up to get the part as the lady ape.
Poor old Andy Serkis is again the voice and movement in the monkey suit and his impressive career continues to go fairly unnoticed, Gollum in Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Gorilla in King Kong also on his CV, of course. Andy does have a face for radio so I suppose he can't complain about his roles and the significant wedge he has made from that somewhat sweaty work. Presumably there are some animatronics stuff here and he does suit up for some scenes, pretty seamless stuff. What you don't see in the film, rather oddly, is a real ape. Or, at least, I don't recall one because the CGI live action effects are that clever.
Most of the $93 budget was spent on those special effects and the pure grandiose of the film and it did $481million back for its bold ambition, the 4th highest opening weekend ever in multiplex cinema. But as the film passes around the buoy at half way and throws up that ambitious spinnaker it becomes an all out action movie that heads to a bonkers finish where the apes have to confront some police lead. Up to that point it's quite a gentle poignant affair about a father and son relationship and going along nicely. But the audience is here to see the apes bang their chest and do some Hulk Slams on the nasty humans and so all hell has to break lose.
I enjoyed it though and definitely one of those films I delayed renting as it's not really my thing and so happy I eventually did, shamelessly waiting for it to slip down to the 99p rack in Blockbusters, which it still hasn't done. I think it will appeal to you if you have put it off for those reasons and some of the scenes in the film are rather impressive and iconic. The cast are fairly lightweight to free up the money for the critical effects and there is unneeded token totty (Freida Pinto from Slumdog) to clutter the momentum. We also spend a little too long with building Ceasars transition in the film. Perhaps fleshing out John Lithgow's role could have given this film another emotional level. On the whole though good stuff and I'm glad I watched it and at no point does it get too silly, the thing I feared most when renting this. Q Tarzan scream!
Imdb.com - 7.6/10.0 (206,435 votes)
Metacritc.com - 68% critic's approval rating
Rottentomatos.com - 83% critic's approval rating
New Yorker - 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes is spectacle with a kick: the transcendence of the normal in creatures so like ourselves is both an entertainment and a needling rebuke to human vanity'.
Time Out -'Looks with fresh, simian eyes at the books core conflict between human and primates.
Vanity Fair -' Audacious, violent and disquieting, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is a summer sequel that's better than it has any right to be'.
The Daily Express -'Despite thin human drama, and one note supporting characters, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a surprisingly sincere story that elevates the franchise canon'.
Entertainment Weekly - 'Had the second half of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" not descended into silliness, perhaps the film would have been a more worthy addition to the Apes legacy.
The Jewish Chronicle -'Only in a world where James Franco portrays Will Rodman, a brilliant biochemist working for a pharmaceutical company, can apes get the best of mankind.
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Lives upto the originals, I was expecting this to be a substandard film compared to the original but I am glad to say I was completly wrong.
The plot takes us back to the start showing us how the apes had got so advanced in intelligence and how what humans did in error to end the reign of the human species over the world, this film fits in well with the story in the other films.
The actors were superb both the ones playing the apes an humans Andrew Serkis puts in a great performance as caesar, John lithgow also puts in a wonderful performance as an ageing man with alzheimer's.
The CGI special effects were exceptionaly good giving the film an all round believability the only part of the film that it falls done in this area is when they are attacking the city apart from that they were great, facial expressions were probably the best Ive seen with this kind of special effects.
There are a couple of scenes that viewers may find upsetting, these are scenes of animal creaulty but the apes do get revenge in the end, the film is rated 12 because of this.
The film shows the good and bad in both apes and humans with some scenes being very emotional.
If you like Sci-fi fiction this is a must see film, even if you dont like this genre of film I would still recommend watching it as it will appeal to all types.