Monday, 15 August 2011

If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to take lots of guns...

So, it's yet another 'let's find a cure for Alzheimer's by performing experiments on animals until they get smart enough to open their cages and take sweet revenge on proud humanity' movie. In other words, it's Deep Blue Sea with apes instead of sharks. All in all, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an intriguing and visually pretty wonderful re-imagining of how the apes started to take over prior to the main Planet of the Apes fiasco. But, I'm still going to pretend it was never made. If it had been just a tad more believable, it would have been a significantly better film.

The actors do their best with what they've got, but frankly, what they've got isn't all that much. Tom Felton, aka Draco Malfoy, pretty much appears to be playing an American version of his most famous role, only taking his wizard angst out on apes instead of Gryffindors. Andy Serkis, as lead Apelord Caesar, reprises his role as CGI creature of the year - if you thought it wasn't possible to be typecast as an effect, think again - although, you won't hear Serkis complaining, seeing as in his pre-LOTR days the highlight of his career was a bit part in a little known Poliakoff drama. James Franco is not up to his usual standard, although you can see he really is trying to be; he just doesn't quite get there. In the end, the CGI itself steals the show.

There are a few nice allusions to the classic 1970s original, including the obligatory 'get your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape', but unfortunately the film makes itself just a shade too ridiculous, especially with the whole 'Caesar learning to talk' thing which, as Sophie Rickard pointed out, would really be quite impossible on any level within the context of the film. The drug given to these apes in order to make them super-intelligent is neurologically based, and therefore could not possibly cause vocal chords to develop in such a way that would allow an ape to speak. However, you could argue that because Caesar was not in fact given the drug but was born with it as part of his genetic make-up after it had been given to his mother, then he could feasibly have developed the physical capability of speech, but frankly that's a massive stretch, and rather more geeky and obsessive than this film deserves considering its many flaws.

Plus, the ending is mawkish and anti-climactic. The only reason to go and see this film is if you're in the mood to see apes wrecking up San Francisco and beating the shit out of humans during a pitched battle on Golden Gate Bridge. Fairly amusing and interesting to look at, but you'll only ever need to see it once.

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