Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

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As for Caesar, kneel down, kneel down and wonder!” Charlie Rodman quoting Shakespeare.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes exhibits, at least, three kinds of virtuous lesson dealing with: reboot, mo-cap (or bluntly, performance capture), and summer blockbuster.

To anticipate the coming-soon Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I rewatched Rise purposively—as a mean of recalling how a simple, audacious reboot might do a “clean slate” to this vigorous 5-film franchise (not including Tim Burton’s “failed” remake in 2001). To start fresh, Rise not only follows the original canon that takes place in the earth (as pictured in the ending of the 1968’s version), but also dates back to many years prior to the original. This decision is finally able to make things possible.

Things are possible, as Rise attempts to trace the early state of ape evolution. It leads us to Dr. Will Rodman (James Franco)’s experiment on a cure of Alzheimer tested on chimps. His drug displays significant effects not only on his father, Charlie (John Lithgow), but also on a female chimp that eventually gives birth to a brilliant chimp. This chimp baby grows as an intelligent one called Caesar (portrayed in perfomance-capture by Andy Serkis).  The more intelligent Caesar becomes, the more things go wrong. As things get worst, Caesar leads a horde of apes—including gorilla and orangutan—to revolt against the hegemony of human-being and to proceed to the original timeline. Meanwhile, human-beings never realize that their lives are at stake as a result of their greed.

The decision to set the reboot far behind the original, IMO, is the key point of Rise. It gives a visionary possibility to set the world of present time on fire and gives hints to what happens in the future. Well, because this is the beginning of primate evolution that leads to to primate revolution, we won’t see apes that exactly look like human with fancy armors; all we see here is exactly apes in the form of primitive primate. Therefore, we don’t see actors in monkey suits—with furs and tremendous make-ups. As for consequence, we’ll see amazing CGI with fabulous mo-cap or motion capture technology. In addition, Rise is one of the first films that implements ‘in-location’ mo-cap shooting; and, is nominated in Oscar for best visual effects.

Serkis, the master of mo-cap (also experienced in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong), makes everything possible—as he shows no ineptness in portraying Caesar. Yet, I never forget about James Franco in his finest blockbuster performance. Franco’s acting of a caring ‘dad’ to Caesar becomes a serious plot device; his sympathetic character gives an imminent space for the apes to shine under Caesar’s command. The former Draco Malfoy, Tom Felton, also plays a significant role in Rise; being a douche-bag who likes to torture primates, his character inflicts the revolt into a higher stake.

The story-telling is lame as it gives no surprise and tends to be predictable. The title has revealed both the apocalyptic theme and the consequence of natural selection; therefore, it diminishes audiences’ interest in proceeding with the rest of the story. Yet, the detail of the conflicts and the bound between Franco’s Will and Serkis’ Caesar—well-crafted in Rick Jaffa’s and Amanda Silver’s  script—make us forget how the film will end. Rise ends up not being a banal blockbuster film that relies on its predecessor, but it becomes a good lesson of how a reboot should be.

As revealed in the credit scene, in which a virus devastates the world regions and spreads rapidly through the entire world, we can tell that the dusk of human-being in this franchise is near. Well, Dawn, the sequel of Rise is near, as well. We’ll see how Caesar leads his primate army to the so-called glory.

 Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Action, Reboot, Drama, Sci-Fi Running Time: 105 mins Directed by: Rupert Wyatt Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver Starred by: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Tom Felton, John Lithgow


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