Thursday, August 11, 2011


James Franco, Frieda Pinto, Andy Serkis
John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton

"Evolution becomes Revolution"

Cinema 3, Shang Cineplex

When I first saw the trailer for this 2011 version of the Planet of the Apes, I was hesitant about watching it. I had the impression that it was a scary movie where genetically altered chimps go on a rampage in San Francisco.

But they say the best way to conquer one's fear is to face it head on. Ergo, I found myself sitting in a dark theater and was fully prepared to be scared out of my wits. I was utterly disappointed or should I say really relieved that the film didn't unnerve me one single bit.

Instead, I was really entertained by a poignant story about a scientist's drive to find a cure for Alzheimer's which sadly has afflicted his father. It is also a compassionate tale about an ape named Caesar who was brought up as a 'human being'. His genetically developed intelligence does him more harm than good yet somewhere beneath all the pent up anger and the need for revenge lies a deep compassion which is hardly expected from any animal.

James Franco as Will Rodman, the scientist doesn't really do much acting wise but the story does revolve from his longing to find a vaccine/cure for his stricken dad portrayed by John Lithgow. Unfortunately, Franco's subtle acting style is severely hindered by a poorly written dialogue reminiscent of a B movie.

The real hero of the story is Caesar, naturally. A young chimp 'adopted' by Will who grows up to be a highly intelligent ape. A trait (intelligence) that is both a curse as well as a blessing for his development. Caesar is given much depth through the personification of Andy Serkis. The actor who is also credited as the one who 'portrayed' both King Kong and Gollum.

Serkis's interpretation of Caesar is full of emotions and very expressive. Even when Caesar is a fully grown ape with quite a menacing physique, one doesn't feel threathen. His rage is only provoked from his deeper understanding of the roles that primates play in the science world. They are used as specimens to test vaccines/drugs that are highly dangerous in their first stages of development. Once they have served their purpose, the hapless apes are mercilessly discarded to live in deplorable conditions.

The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes takes full advantage of the latest computer generated images devices to deliver a gripping action adventure that doesn’t skimp on heartbreaking emotion. It combines brilliant cinematography with seamless digital effects and fast paced action sequences. Plus throw in a few moral lessons about the brutal way that animals used for lab tests are treated by humans. Yet beneath the special effects, there beats a human heart, not least in the character of Caesar the ape. He is indeed the soul of this film!

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