Fawning Fanboy’s Spoiler Review of Rise of The Planet of The ApesAugust 8, 2011 at 10:27 am | Posted in Entertainment, Movies, Regular Feature, Reviews | Leave a comment
Tags: James Franco, John Lithgow, Rise of The Planet of The Apes review
It’s Revmacd here, once again changing hats to become “The Fawning Fanboy”. This is my Fawning Fanboy Review of Rise of Planet of The Apes. There are two things you should know about The Fawning Fanboy Review on Roqoo Depot real quick and then we’ll move on to the review.
First thing is, I only review things I enjoy; golden rule and all that jazz. There are plenty of attack sites. If that’s what you’re looking for, just add the word “stinks” to the title of the movie in the Google search block and you’ll find thousands of them. Here at Roqoo Depot, we prefer what is right to what it is within our rights. We strive for a mature relationship with our readers and the properties we critique based on mutual respect rather than being based upon what we can get away with.
The other thing you should know is that there will be spoilers. Spoilers of all kinds. Spoilers spoilers spoilers. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Having warned you of the consequences of continuing it seems if you are reading this you are still here. I will tell you I had the best time in a long time watching Rise of The Planet of The Apes. I’m a lifelong fan of the franchise and this movie didn’t disappoint.
I grew up watching Planet of The Apes movies. They used to come on a local UHF channel around mid-day on Saturdays when I was a lad. On any given Saturday you either got a Bruce Lee movie, a Japanese monster double feature starring the likes of Godzilla or Mothra, or you got a Planet of The Apes movie.
There were five total movies released between 1968 and 1973. They were in almost perpetual production. Then 1974 brought us 14 episodes of a live action television series but it was cancelled due to low ratings halfway through it’s inaugural season. This era also brought us Planet of The Apes in comic book and cartoon form.
In 2001 there was an excellent remake/re-imagining of the original movie starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Tim Burton, two Hollywood heavy hitters by anyone’s estimation. I think it goes without saying that in the five decades since the novel La Planète des singes, known in English as Monkey Planet, by French author Pierre Boulle and on which the first movie was based, that Planet of The Apes has gained a solid following among the science fiction and post-apocalyptic fantasy fans.
The story was well written, the acting ranged from competent (in the case of star James Franco) to “And the winner is…” brilliance (in the case of both supporting actor John Lithgow and co-star Andy Serkis as Caesar), and the action sequences and CGI were probably the best I’ve seen in any movie yet in this action-heavy movie year. Considering there were hundreds of chimps, apes and other primates in the movie, yet not a single live animal was used in the shooting of the film, I would say the CGI in this movie sets a new high water mark in the industry.
Director Rupert Wyatt pays homage to the original franchise often enough to be respectful of the long and rich heritage of the franchise without being campy. There are definitely a few fan service moments but with the exception of Tom Felton (Draco Mallfoy of Harry Potter) telling the star chimp to “Get your filthy paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”, the nods to the original are sometimes sublimely subtle. So much so that it may warrant a second viewing to go back and catch them all. They are there if you look for them but you aren’t beaten over the head with them. The director assumes that if you are a fan, you will get it. If you are not, he still has an exciting yet poignant story to tell you.
I have to say that once again, Hollywood has left me feeling somewhat awkwardly ashamed of being a human being. If Avatar didn’t have you wondering why we dopey humans are so blood thirsty, greedy and inherently evil, then this movie certainly will. Will Rodamn, played by James Franco, works for a huge, fortune 500 type drug manufacturer. The drug company’s only motivation is profit because it’s an evil greedy yadda yadda… Suffice to say they are the bad guys who create the conditions under which all the bad things in the movie happen. Other evil humans include neighbors, the workers at the primate sanctuary where Caesar is interred via court order, and pretty much any other police or authority figures. They do all seem to be going out of their way to create a perfect storm of monkey resentment at just the wrong time.
James Franco is the Jar-Jar Binks of the movie. He is a nice guy who just wants to help the world. In the end he creates a race of super intelligent monkeys that hate humanity and a super virus that will spare the monkeys the trouble of actually exterminating the hated humans. He basically creates humanities worst enemy and then hands the keys to the planet over to them.
Another analogy would be Daniel Greystone of the TV show Caprica. Greystone was the creator of the first Cylon. He wanted to bring peace to the galaxy and wound up creating an enemy bent on the destruction of humanity. I guess the lesson is that we humans should think our ambitions through a little better.
Overall, Franco’s performance is adequate. I don’t know if it’s just me but I always seem to be aware that James Franco is an actor that is acting. He doesn’t do a bad job. He keeps you engaged in the story and you come to care about him as a character to a certain extent but you just aren’t bowled over by the performance. This movie didn’t need the character of Will Rodman to be a breakout performance though. The monkeys were the real stars.
John Lithgow on the other hand was riveting. He is one of those actors that has the “it” factor as far as I’m concerned and everything he does, from horror, to suspense and even comedy, just works. He is a truly gifted actor.
In this movie he plays Rodman’s father. An aging pianist beset with Alzheimer’s Disease. He plays the character most convincingly. When his son, the book smart chemist without an ounce of common sense, dopes him up with a cure for his condition, you actually believe his mind has just cleared from some intangible haze. The first half of the movie does move at what I’ll call a medium pace in order to set up the action sequences that bring it all home. John Lithgow is the anchor that keeps the viewer interested and invested through that part of the movie.
Tom Felton plays Dodge Landon. We all know Tom from his most famous role as an antagonist in the Harry Potter franchise by the name of Draco Mallfoy. It seems Mr. Felton is unconcerned about type casting as he plays a jerk in this movie as well. The character Dodge Landon works at the primate sanctuary run by his father and Dodge is a nasty customer. He is a party boy with a mean streak who mistreats the animals in his care often and for no other reason than because it amuses him.
The performance was excellent. Tom Felton definitely knows what his strength as an actor is it seems. He is believable to the point that you want to stand up and cheer for the monkeys when he finally gets his comeuppance. I actually did cheer and for the first time in my life I was actually “shushed” at a movie. Plus, he got to use the classic Charlton Heston “damned dirty ape” line, which was hugely fun.
The only real drawback to his performance was his American accent. Tom Felton is British of course and his American accent could use a bit of work. Other than that he was excellent.
David Hewlett, Rodney McKay of Stargate Atlantis fame, plays Mr. Hunsiker the mean next door neighbor. His part seems trivial through most of the movie but in one of the plot points I suppose I should leave unspoiled he turns out to be a pretty pivotal part of the overall outcome of the movie and its supposed affect on humanity. He need only play Hunsiker as a less intelligent version of McKay to get the point across that he is a jerk and keep you from caring about his well being. He does that perfectly.
Andy Serkis plays Caesar the chimp. He is the real star of the movie and by the time the movie ends you’re glad the humans took it on the chin and the monkeys got away. It’s all because of the performance this motion capture actor provides the film. I know “Brilliant” is a word that is used far too often to describe actors but in this case it is absolutely deserved. All the motions and facial expressions of Caesar are done in a motion capture of Serkis in a special get up designed for that purpose. A “motion capture suit” if you will. You sympathise with Caesar in every way throughout the movie and cheer him when he finally develops and executes the plan that sets him and his fellow captive simians free once and for all. This has been a movie heavy year. Serkis should win an Oscar though.
The Action is over the top and outrageous. It isn’t quite at the level of a Transformers movie but it is pretty close. While it might be just a half a notch below that in intensity, it is actually better from a technical standpoint than any other movie I’ve ever seen. The CGI is flawless. You don’t doubt for a second that the angry monkeys are real and they are coming to get you next. You’ll be on the edge of your seat with a chill up your spine through the last half hour or so of the movie. It’s an origin movie. It takes a bit to set it up but once it does it is wall to wall action and the payoff is completely satisfying.
The Fawning Fanboy highly recommends going to see Rise of The Planet of The Apes.