Saturday, August 6, 2011

CGI Has Made a Better Monkey, and a Good Movie

Remember the old explanation of how the humans made apes their pets and helpers, but were attacked by them, creating the Planet of the Apes?
Forget it. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a more evolved version of the old movies from the 1970's and even the recent reboot.
They came up with a great idea: what if Man came up with a miracle cure for Alzheimer's, and it wound up making monkeys smarter, and eventually able to outsmart us?

In this case, the man is James Franco, who plays scientist Will Rodman. He has a personal stake in this because his father suffers from Alzheimer's. A prototype is tested on a monkey called "Bright Eyes" (the first of many callbacks to the original Planet of the Apes canon). The drug makes the chimp super-smart, but she is shot dead when she attacks someone at the lab. We see the properties of the drug is passed to her son, who is called Caesar. He is a chimp prodigy, who is able to communicate with Will quite well. However, the chimp has also inherited his mom's temper, and soon he's put in a primate prison. It's there that Caesar gets a hard education that will help him develop into Man's worst nightmare.

It's no accident that while the human actors are generic, although Franco has a wonderful relationship with Caesar, the chimp and monkeys are the most developed characters in this movie. Just look at the expressions Caesar have. You can see him evolving with one look. This is also due to the genius work of Andy Sirkis, who does a great job bringing Caesar to life. Some have said he should get an Oscar nomination for this. The Academy's reluctance to embrace a new type of acting, especially assisted with CGI, will probably keep that from happening. Otherwise, Zoe Saldana could have had a chance at a nomination for Avatar. It's still a great performance. When Caesar does something even more unlikely, I heard a lot of gasps in the audience.

They also have an orangutan named Maurice who's a dead ringer for a familiar Planet of the Apes character. That is no accident. Neither is a guy named Dodge, played by Tom Felton of Harry Potter fame. This guy sees the primates as his own objects of abuse. He's not too far off from Draco Malfoy.

Some may be a bit skeptical abut how quickly Caesar gathers his army against the humans, but the story is a starting point to how Earth could wind up being ruled by apes. When it ends, you wonder if it will become the PotA that we know from the original movie and sequels, or will go a different route.

As far as the trailers that came before the movie, the only one that got my attention was Contagion, about a doomsday virus. It's got an all-star cast, and I hope it can live up to its potential

No comments: