‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ DVD Review

Director: Rubert Wyatt

Cast: Andy Serkis, James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Tom Felton, Brian Cox

Plot: When a young scientist trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s by trying his new formula out on an ape. When the ape gives birth the offspring, Ceaser, begins to show a remarkable cognitive development it sets into motion a series of events that hold massive implications for the human population.

Review: Revisiting the ‘Apes’ franchise seems somewhat moot. The original film was largely hinged on a twist that is better known than the film itself these days and the last attempt at a remake was downright dire. Much of the success of both the original and the remake came from the advance in the effects that both demonstrated, and in this day and age audiences have been so over-exposed to computer generated effects you’d think there was nothing that could impress us any more.

"Geez Franco, you don't need to ham it up."

What’s remarkable with this film is that the special effects are completely mindblowing, and everyone should follow up the movie with a look at the special features just to fully appreciate what was achieved. Andy Serkis already displayed a talent when he pioneered acting through motion capture technology when playing Gollum in Lord of the Rings and the titular character in King Kong, but this role demonstrates just how far the process has come in such a short time. The line between performance and technology is almost non-existent. It’s still a shocking oversight that the process of filming the performance disqualifies Serkis from most major actor awards.

Whilst it is easy to get fixated on this one aspect of the film, the rest of the production is almost as impressive. The story reworks the mythos behind the original series and gives it a surprisingly grounded tone. Whilst in the original films the apes were unabashedly evil, this story is less black and white with the humans cruelty driving Ceaser over the edge just as much as they do provide him with love and care. This creates a character with depth who garners the viewers sympathy.

For a rather complex story it’s well paced and builds up to a brilliant finale. Although I’m never a fan of a movie that tries to set itself up for a sequel, in this case it seems more than valid. The ending screams for a continuation of the plot, and it can’t come soon enough. One of the best for 2011.