Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rise of the Planet of the Apes. A-

Wow, this was astonishing. My inexplicable delay of seeing this movie finally came to an end. This is the kind of big budget summer blockbuster I love. It respects the idea that the big action sequences should be saved till the end and not surprisingly it's a much better movie as a result of it. Most of the film is actually a science fiction drama, hugely fascinating if you're a love of the ape concept like I am. This is the story we needed after the brilliant original Planet of the Apes. And that's what is so fantastic about this film. Sure, the performance capture is phenomenal, but what drives Rise of the Planet of the Apes is that it actually has a story to tell. Most blockbusters have to fill their running time with action scenes because of a lack of a narrative. Contrary to those, this film is simply too busy to worry about fights, chases, and explosions. The movie was original called Caesar: Rise of the Apes because the ape of the center of the story is named Caesar. After getting some impressive genes from his mother, who was used in a lab as a test for a cure to Alzheimer's, Caesar is raised by scientist Will Rodman (James Franco, who has just enough of Jeff Goldblum in him to be pretty convincing). He's an adorable ape as a baby, and because he's so intelligent, Will treats him as a son as he grows older. He stands like a human and even wears clothes. He also has mental attributes that become increasingly human as the story moves along. But things really start getting interesting when a bad accident lands Caesar in a primate shelter, run by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his son Dodge (Tom Felton, with plenty of Draco Malfoy leftovers to feed on). Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a return to the original tradition of the summer blockbuster. It doesn't overstay its welcome, running for just over 100 minutes. But because the film isn't dependent on action, it never feels rushed. And when it does arrive at is slam bang climax, the results are pretty breathtaking. The director Rupert Wyatt shoots the apes pouring through San Francisco with an almost poetic quality. This isn't a film in which the viewer sides with either man or ape. We know the result anyway, so it would be pretty pointless. Instead of being about good and evil, this is about the apes, and I was fascinated as their intelligence grew.

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