Watched Jun 24, 2012
This review reportedly contains spoilers.
I can handle the truth.
Adrian Alexander said:
What an awesome film this could have been! Just imagine: Intelligent apes thrashing the city, confused and enraged creatures of the wild crippled by years of captivity, suddenly unleashed on an environment that is as alien to them as they are to it. Riveting reflections on humanity and hybris, gruesome images of nature at work, an epic decisive confrontation. A daring piece of art, an instant classic.
Needless to say, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is not that film. Following the big budget imperative of the PG Rating, any graphic depictions of violence are pretty much off limits from the get-go. A couple of folks die off-screen, only one guy meets his fate in front of the camera (he "deserved it") - pretty tame for a story about how mankind is being violently overcome by a bunch of great apes.
Except, of course, that it isn't: The Ape Escape is merely an episode, and a pretty miniscule one compared to what follows: The extinction of the entire human race due to a virus engineered by Mr. Franco's Dream Team of capable scientists - who seem to have never heard of proper protective suits, unbreakable glass or any other basic precautions you might consider when you're working with wild animals and highly infectious viruses. By the way: That guy contracting the virus, running free without arousing any suspicion whatsoever? "Frank's been coughing blood all week! Doesn't he work at that sinister biotech facility?" "Yeah, I wonder how these two could possibly be connected..."
Well, obviously, this film isn't about mankind's demise anyway, as we get to witness the spreading of the virus solely during the end credits, and in the laziest and least effective fashion imaginable. I suppose after Andy Serkis got his money there probably wasn't any left to throw in a couple of scenes actually showing this arguably singular event - you know, as they do in the movies. (Just kidding of course. Andy Serkis works for free!)
On the upside, Rise delivers some engaging action, and the CGI apes do express quite a bit of character. This, by the way, is more than might be said about most of their human counterparts. Your script calls for exactly one (1) lady, and your best bet is Freida Pinto? Really?! Franco was okay though, and I would've really liked John Lithgow to be in this more. Great actor, great guy.
What struck me most about Caesar's characterization is how they apparently modeled him to be an action hero cliché from the 80s: The posing, the nodding, the stern looks - this ape is a Snake Plissken School of Badassery graduate. Then of course, Plissken et al performed in a gritty and textured realm of sweat and ultra-violence while Caesar's army gets to throw computer animated rubbish at computer animated people in a squeaky clean computer animated city. And that is just not as exciting.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is a watchable and harmless spectacle flick with plot holes as huge as a baboon's ass and characters that at least don't get much in the way of the action. It constitutes at best a loose re-interpretation of the franchise's main motive, but as a prequel it fails miserably.