Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
The greatest asset of Rise of The Planet of the Apes is the CGI chimpanzee, Caesar, played by Andy Serkis. It is also the films greatest hindrance. Too much focus is spent on the titular character at the expensive of the remainder of the cast. The pace is also purposely pedestrian to accommodate a list of cinematic pre-requisites that the producers felt must be included. These include moral dilemmas, relationship issues and contemporary ethical themes. If you were hoping that Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of The Planet of The Apes would be a more cerebral spectacle, then you may well be a little disappointed. It is functional and efficient entertainment, but no more than that.
The CGI action scenes of rampaging apes, as shown in the trailer, are well executed but far smaller in scale than you would expect. They also arrive quite near to the films climax and are not as a substantial part of the movie as suggested. There are a few nods to the original series of films during the course of this reboot. But by and large this movie feels that it has been hemmed in and restrained by the need to establish a starting point for a new franchise. Once again, I suspect studio meddling and a continuous stream of memo’s suggesting adjustments based on focus groups and market research.
John Lithgow is good, but there again he is seldom bad. It is also nice to see humanity toppled from its pedestal. I have an inclination for any film that eschews the tired notion that the human race is the summit of evolution and somehow the metaphorical centre of the universe. It cannot be denied that the motion capture techniques certainly do set new standards. But ultimately, if Fox had spent more time focusing on a more even narrative, rather than being pleased with itself by all boxes they were ticking, this would be a better film. Let us hope that the next entry in the series will have a stronger director and a finely-honed screenplay.