12 June 2012

Movies: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1318514/

Action Sci-Fi

Dr Will Rodman is working on a cure for Alzheimer's and testing it on chimpanzees. After a seemingly disastrous failure the program is shut down and all the chimps are destroyed. Except one, one they didn't know existed, a recent newborn of one of the test subjects. Dr Rodman smuggles the infant and ends up raising it himself. As the chimp grows it becomes apparent that the testing on the mother has passed to the child and is succeeding beyond Dr Rodman's expectations.
And, as it is titled "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" you probably can guess where this goes if you know anything about the Planet of the Apes series of films.

I was wary about watching this film,  especially after Tim Burton's 2001 film "Planet of the Apes". Just mentioning that film irritates me. The makeup effects, the acting, most of the sets, all superb. The script and dialog and events and rewrites that differ from both the book and the 1968 film were so disappointing that I almost completely lost faith in Tim Burton's ability to make films. Then TB released "Big Fish" and it almost made up for PotA. Almost. But I'm getting way off topic here, I didn't come here to gripe about the PotA remake or Tim Burton. I only mention it because it made me really hesitant about watching this film.

The "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is probably most like 1972's "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" in that it covers that moment when the apes get smart enough and band together enough to begin building their planet of the apes. However how this comes about is completely different between the two films. There really is no comparison between the two.

Anyone who has watched the original Planet of the Apes film series will probably catch some of the references this film makes back to them. As familiar as I am with the original series of films I didn't catch all the references. I caught the most obvious ones, but the more subtle ones escaped my attention.

I have to admit I did enjoy this film. I enjoyed the reworked story, I thought they did a great job  putting everything together. CG rendered characters still aren't always completely natural looking, but they are good enough. WETA does a great job, just as they did in Lord of the Rings and King Kong (and other films).

If you're a fan of the original films from the 60s and 70s you don't have to avoid watching this film. It is different enough to stand on its own. Sure it rewrites the origin of the apes taking over the planet, but overall it is a much better film and plot than "Conquest's".  And it eliminates the paradox introduced by "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" as continued in "Conquest".

Chances are if  more "Planet of the Apes" films revisit the series I won't be near as wary about watching them. Heck if the same team re-remade "Planet of the Apes" I would probably give it a watching.  And, if you were paying attention to news reports taking place in the background, there very well could be a sequel in the works that just might end up being an analogue of "Planet of the Apes".

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Yes, Roddy McDowall is missed, he always will be when it comes to Planet of the Apes films.

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Ah, young Tom Felton. We get it. You were a great and very hate-able Draco Malfoy. This role didn't help distance you from that image. Hopefully your future roles distance you from that box.

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Yes, some script and plot issues did not escape my attention. Things like how the heck did the lab not know one of their test subject chimps was pregnant. Even if she was pregnant before being captured and sent to the lab - she carried the thing to full term and delivered the baby under the shelf. I mean, come on. Seriously? There's others, but that's the biggest thing the whole film hinges on.

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