Saturday, September 3, 2011

'Planet of the Apes' Still Rising

Caesar and Will have a close bond.
The movie came out a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have the opportunity to blog about it.I had my doubts about this movie, especially after some of the later sequels to the original 1968 film. My husband was even more reluctant to attend. But we went, and we’re glad we did. It was easily the best “action” film of the summer!
The brilliant Andy Serkis (Gollum in “Lord of the Rings”) is astounding as Caesar, the genetically-engineered super smart chimp rescued from the research lab by scientist Will Rodman (James Franco). The experiment held the promise of a cure for Alzheimer's Disease among other brain ailments, a quest all the more personal for Will because his father Charles (John Lithgow) is suffering from the disease.
Will raises Caesar as a child, with the help of fellow scientist and love interest Caroline (Freida Pinto). Harry Potter fans will get a kick of out Tom Felton’s (very good) performance as the sadistic keeper of heretofore helpless apes in the “sanctuary” where Caesar ends up after a rampage through his neighborhood.

Caesar’s intelligence transforms him into an activist for the humane treatment of his fellow apes. All-out war ensues.A note to science-fiction haters (you know who you are): This plot is crafted so that the premise is really quite believable and easy to accept. Only the ending scenes take a little extra license with reality.
The biggest reason to see this, besides its surprisingly sweet story, is the bravura performance of Serkis and his CGI transformation into the ape. Using cutting-edge technology, the movie makers allowed Serkis to act with the other humans rather than just in front of a green screen. How they managed it is beyond me, but boy, does it work! Caesar is as real as you’d ever want him to be, as are all the other (CGI) apes. If Serkis does not get an Oscar nod for his work, I give up.
Andy Serkis before CGI!

This adrenalin rush should appeal to a broad audience. It has something for everyone. Excitement, sentiment, humor (Lithgow is a gift), pathos … you name it, it’s got it. Audiences have agreed, making it one of the biggest blockbusters of the summer.
One of the best movies I’ve seen this year. Really. Go. You’ll love it. Really.
I’m giving “Rise of the Planet” three and a half reels.

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