Tom Pheby looks back at 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
What a relief it was when Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released in 2011, swiftly erasing the memory of the Tim Burton non-event from a decade earlier. It stars James Franco as research Scientist Will Rodman and is superbly Directed by Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist and the Gambler), with a Screenplay by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.
First impressions are that the Story seems to have been deliberately stripped down to the bones in an effort to breath life back into the series. This made it feel very much like the first installment of a possible trilogy, those that later ventured to the cinema to see "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" will know exactly what I mean.
It's a story which scarily has an element of the present day about it with the recent re-emergence of Ebola. Rodman is desperately searching for a cure for Alzheimer's and discovers a treatment that can lead to nurogenesis, or brain cell renewal, but as they say if it sounds too good to be true it usually is! This is evidenced in this yarn when the intended cure becomes a virus capable of a human extinction. The test subjects, apes, show no ill effects, the opposite in fact as they become astonishingly intelligent.
There are multiple layers running through the film, including the plight of a scientist desperate to cure his fathers debilitating condition, the desperation of Franco's Character to succeed at all costs, the inevitable corporate greed where there are millions to be made from a lucrative cure, and the astonishing insensitivity of humans towards the natural inhabitants of the planet. Sounds all a bit dreary, but it isn't. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the perfect starting block to reboot the flagging series. Gone are the latex costumes, which in today's modern age would appear a bit cumbersome and unrealistic. They are replaced by state of the art FX known as capture technology, and what a difference it makes in terms of visual credibility. In fact it's easy to forget that there are actors involved at all to some degree, such is the skill on show here.
The pick of the bunch is surely the startling performance of Andy Serkis (Caesar) who fills the screen from corner to corner with a mixture of anxiety, anger, curiosity and sadness, all superbly expressed in a series of facial expressions that are as absorbing as they are compelling.
It's a very bright, intelligent film. Full of depth and emotional triggers, which has you smiling at as many points as it leaves you feeling sad. It brings elements of the old and merges it with the new to make it an
exciting, entertaining reboot for a modern audience and loyal fans
alike. This great blend of action and thought provoking text ultimately emerges head and shoulders above the 1968 original starring Charlton (Chuck) Heston.
Unlike its predecessor (2001) it is well thought out and executed with a great cast and script. Rise of the Planet of the Apes nods to the past but is bold enough to look for its own place in the history of the franchise. I wondered if they'd follow it up, and if so could any possible sequel match what is achieved here? Well I need not have concerned myself with that. The best way to enjoy this film is to watch it back to back with "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" - the movie I will be reviewing tomorrow.
Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half
English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting
on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film
abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town
of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter