Rupert Wyatt's reboot prequel to the original 1968 film is considered to be one of the best films this blockbuster summer has to offer. With a terrific story arc that interweaves and engages the audience well throughout the film, it takes control and drives us on with or without the much delightful fascinating visual effects that instill much life in Caesar (the lead ape) with so much detailed emotive expressions. James Franco hits the notes well for his scripted role together with Tom Felton (yes, Draco Malfoy) but notably it's Andy Serkis who manages to mesmerise with his lively portrayal of Caesar.
A single act of both compassion and arrogance leads to a war unlike any other -- and to the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. The Oscar-winning visual effects team that brought to life the worlds of Avatar and Lord of the Rings is breaking new ground, creating a CGI ape that delivers a dramatic performance of unprecedented emotion and intelligence, and epic battles on which rest the upended destinies of man and primate.
I've always believed that story is king. It's one of the simplest conceptual element and yet one of the most powerful tool in filmmaking.
Here, the filmmakers have decided to build an incredible storyline that not only feels plausible (less certain elements that are contributed by science fiction) but also instills such imperative holding power over the audience with its solid premise.
It's been a while since a film captivates in the manner of Rise of the Planet of the Apes (let's just call it Apes). The last I've seen similar was probably in Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class. This reboot prequel leads the audience to the beginning of the 1968 original where intelligent apes are the dominant species enslaving mankind.
If you've not seen the 1968 film before, do not fret. It's not a pre-requisition to enjoy Apes.
Besides the writing credits due to its screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, a lot of attention will likely fall upon Andy Serkis who physically played Caesar in life-like demeanour. Probably building upon his niche talent of portraying similar animated characters with his previous success in LOTR's Gollum, Serkis proves to be capable of embodying any digital skin and turn it into a totally different character (perhaps an award season nod for acting for Serkis, if I may boldly suggest?). There is a great amount of scenes dedicated to build up Caesar's development via a number of transitional situations between a civilised being of intelligence and a ferocious wild creature, which is compelling to watch.
With a lot of screen presence dedicated, Caesar is the actual lead here.
While getting his role correct in terms of feel and personality, James Franco does adequately well but nothing outstanding in particular. This could objectively be due to a limited role in order to support the main story arc of Caesar, but I cannot be certain as of current. Caesar did suck me in a fair deal and made a lot of other characters feel sidelined.
There is a notable antagonist performance by Tom Felton, who added sufficient vile to inspire a greater sense of drama and heartfelt to Caesar and the encaged apes.
Assisting Caesar and his species to captivate the audience, a lot of research seems to be invested in this film in regards to the actual wildlife behaviours of chimpanzees. Little notions and grunts together with the man-taught handsigns do provide a lot of substantial credibility to the production and is seen as a strong set of production values.
Technically, the film seems to have focused a lot on the WETA digital visual effects and might have allowed certain aspects to elude their attention. With a lot of dedication towards green screen, cinematography isn't of notable excellence although it's fairly well. However, the original music by Patrick Doyle works in Apes the way it worked in Thor (which Doyle also scored). But in Apes, it sounded with more emotive notes in grandeur that accentuated the drama very aptly.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is possibly the true delight this summer that outshone a lot of the other offerings and should hit well with a wide range of audience groups.
Apes will rise, to impress our dull blockbuster summer.