Reviewed Apr 01, 2012
Adam Cook’s review:
For a special effects driven summer blockbuster it is amazing that what we end up with isn't a mindless action film but instead a rather touching character study. Most of the column inches have focused on the impressive effects and it is easy to see why. Whilst the apes still looked computer generated they are so expressive that their artificiality slips away and you buy into them as living breathing creatures. Serkis and WETA deliver their best work here, providing great emotional heart to Caesar a character who doesn't fit into either the animal or human world. It is disappointing really that the human characters aren't as expressive or as greatly developed. Lithgow does fine work in a pretty small role, Pinto does next to nothing as the superficial romantic interest, Cox is totally wasted and Franco is merely okay. It is a shame the Franco character was not given more development as there is still a lot of untapped potential in the relationship between him and Caesar (although this could always be explored in the sequel).
The film is pleasingly economical, this is no bloated two and a half hour feature, instead it focuses on what needs to be covered and allows the audience to fill in the rest. Although a longer runtime may well have helped flesh out some of the human characters I think the lean story was beneficial. Amazingly for such a big budget film there is only really one genuine action sequence in the entire film but it is worth the wait. The bridge escape is large in scale but never forgets the characters amongst the set pieces. For once it is shot and edited in such a way that the action is easy to follow and it is a sequence full of memorable little cameos. Above all the film shows that a summer audience will still buy into a movie if the characters and story are compelling rather than needlessly throwing inconsequential action at the screen every 15 minutes.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes a story that could be very silly and hokey in the wrong hands and delivers one of the strongest summer films of 2011.