RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - REVIEW
Making a good film involving talking apes throwing spears has never been an easy task. The Charlton Heston-starring original almost feels like a fluke in that it did everything right with content that could so easily have been botched-up. I mean, what's sillier than apes riding horses?
I'll tell you.
CGI apes riding horses.
Yes, many of the old Planet Of The Apes sequels failed to capture the original's stature, yes the TV series didn't have the budget needed and yes the Tim Burton remake is the director's worst achievement to date. And yet I would gladly sit through Mark Wahlberg's soulless journey once again rather than rewatch this new offering. Why, do you ask? Seen the trailers?
Really what it comes down to is the sheer irrelevance that this entire production displays. The "rise" of the apes has been pretty much covered left and right in previous instalments besides, here's one film which will no doubt ruin the end twist of the original for new generations. For shame. But the film's main shortcoming, its questionable existence aside, has to be the use of motion capture CGI effects used to create every single ape.
What a godawful idea.
For one thing, if there was one thing that didn't need changing or improving from the 2001 "re-imagining" that's the look of the apes. The make-up effects in Burton's film were stunning, say what you will about the film: it got THAT right. And yet here we are, no make-up effects...no apes! At no point in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes did I feel like I was looking at an actual ape. I recognize that the technology used might come in handy in a good movie eventually but here it's frankly embarrassing. And no, moving the camera around in every direction will not turn pixels into apes.
It is a shame that the film fails phenomenally because at the core there was a powerful story in there somewhere. James Franco's relationship with his father (played by an always welcome John Lithgow), society rejecting smart ape Caesar, there was potential there to make something pretty affecting and a welcome addition to the Apes franchise. Here, though, this is so clumsily handled getting through it is a task to say the least. With a plot this rushed and apes this fake it's a wonder any of it works.
I do like the idea that the serum which makes the apes smarter also becomes the humans' biggest curse, I also liked the very first scene of the film in which Caesar's mother is captured by humans similarly to when humans are captured by the apes in the original film. Having said that, it's also a bit dumb to have that in there since the original film interestingly reversed the idea of humans capturing apes but then this film re-reverses it into...what the original reversed in the first place.
Much has been said about the final action scene on the bridge and how great it is: it's fine. Had the apes not been CGI and had I cared about anyone involved it could have been really great but for the only action scene of the entire film (2 hours long btw) this is pretty underwhelming to say the least. Hell, I wasn't even through trying to figure out all the plot holes by the time it happened! Why is that circus orangutan from Circus Orangutan so darn smart? Why are there suddenly thousands of apes when there were like 20 in that center? Why do people choose to not seek professional help and hide their diseases in this film? Why doesn't the army intervene and get rid of the apes altogether at the end? Where are the actual apes?
Why cookie Rocket?
That's a real line from the film by the way. Yeah...
That orangutan said it all. This is one dumb movie. And a bad idea altogether. That the critics have been so positive is maddening to me but I'm confident that in a couple of years, when people finally understand how terrible these effects and the writing as a whole really are, new scathing reviews will come out and give the film the panning it so sorely deserves. In the meantime, all I can suggest is watch the original again, watch a couple of the sequels, check out the series, look at the make-up effects in the 2001 remake and then let me know what you think of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.
To be fair they do attempt to reference the original films but calling an ape Cornelia, another Maurice and having that scrawny Harry Potter kid say the "get you stinkin' paws of me..." line is near insulting. It feels forced and just makes you wish you were watching, um...Planet Of The Apes? Now some of you will say: oh but there were no real apes in the original film so how come you liked that one? Well, quite simply: they weren't meant to be real apes in that one. That's it, really.
Overall, although it might take a little while for this one to be officially recognized by all as one of the worst entries into the Apes franchise, you can do yourself a favor and steer clear now. Very dumb, very silly, not nearly as entertaining as you might think with some of the most intrusive effects you'll ever see. If you like bad movies and you're up for some laughs though, why not. You'll get your money's worth.
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