Viva la simian revo­lu­tion!

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Star­ring James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lith­gow, Brian Cox, Tom Fel­ton, David Oyelowo. Screen­play by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Sil­ver, di­rected by Ru­pert Wy­att. 105 min­utes, rated M (vi­o­lence). Show­ing at Read­ing Cin­e­mas Porirua. ou ma­ni­acs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!’’

So cried a typ­i­cally over­reach­ing Charlton He­ston dur­ing the big re­veal of Planet of the Apes, as he thumped the sand at the sight of a crip­pled Lady Lib­erty.

‘‘He was on Earth the whole time,’’ aghast au­di­ences re­alised, whether it was upon the pic­ture’s re­lease in 1968 or those dis­cov­er­ing the cult clas­sic in the decades since.

I never could be sure if He­ston was damn­ing the apes for de­stroy­ing the Statue of Lib­erty or if he was be­rat­ing hu­mankind for for­sak­ing Earth to our hairier cousins.

Ei­ther way, it’s a tan­ta­lis­ing treat to fi­nally see what went down those many moons ago, when the ape first got hold of the stick and low­ered mankind to its knees.

I’m not sure whether Rise of the Planet of the Apes con­sti­tutes a pre­quel to the old films or a fresh start­ing point for a new Apes fran­chise (likely the lat­ter if it makes a few bob), but I do know that it’s a damn fine movie – an un­ex­pected favourite from this year’s run of block­busters.

Much of its suc­cess can be at­trib­uted to the stun­ning vis­ual ef­fects which – util­is­ing Andy Serkis’ mo­tion cap­ture per­for­mance – en­sure the apes have a weighty screen pres­ence, but it would all be for nought if the script wasn’t smart, thought­ful and packed with pathos.

Sci­en­tist Will Rod­man (James Franco) is de­vel­op­ing a drug to cure Alzheimer’s, and is ex­per­i­ment­ing on chimps.

He is des­per­ate to suc­ceed as his fa­ther’s (John Lith­gow) mind is slip­ping away.

As Will dis­cov­ers through the in­fant chimp Cae­sar, the drug not only re­stores an ape’s brain cells but en­hances them.

Cae­sar’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion and cog­ni­tive abil­i­ties are off the charts, but be­fore Will can get a grasp of what’s hap­pen­ing, his com­pany pro­gresses the chimp tri­als, with dis­as­trous re­sults, and Cae­sar comes to un­der­stand his life needn’t be spent on a leash.

The premise of apes tak­ing over the world may have got you fork­ing out for the movie ticket, but it is the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Will and Cae­sar that will have you us­ing it to dab away the warm tears. Af­ter Cae­sar is locked up and mis­treated in a dodgy pri­mate ‘‘sanc­tu­ary’’, you’ll be cry­ing for cold vengeance against his and the other apes’ hu­man op­pres­sors – par­tic­u­larly Tom Fel­ton’s cruel ape han­dler.

Di­rec­tor Ru­pert Wy­att does a splen­did job of mak­ing such a high-con­cept movie so per­sonal and thought-pro­vok­ing.

Yes, there are some mighty ac­tion scenes – par­tic­u­larly the cli­matic stand-off on the Golden Gate Bridge – but what re­ally res­onates are the scenes where we see hu­man­ity, in all its cru­elty and hypocrisy, through the eyes of an­other species.

I’m still not con­vinced on the cast­ing of James ‘‘ Mr Un­der­state­ment’’ Franco as Dr Rod­man, who seems to ac­cept the ex­tra­or­di­nary con­se­quences of his ex­per­i­ments with lit­tle concern be­sides en­sur­ing Cae­sar’s safety, but he’s not the star of this show.

Hats off to Andy Serkis and the other per­for­mance cap­ture ac­tors, who used the same tech­nol­ogy as Avatar but in ac­tual en­vi­ron­ments, not sound stages.

These are the most en­gag­ing and cap­ti­vat­ing com­put­eren­hanced char­ac­ters I’ve come across in a movie.

Hail Cae­sar!

Go­ing ape: Cae­sar ral­lies the chimps for a show­down with the San Fran­cisco Po­lice Depart­ment in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. If only the re­cent Che Gue­vara films had been this en­gag­ing.

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