Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I just went to see this today (purely because Tom Felton (Malfoy) is in it), so I thought I’d weight in, since it was hard for me to find someone who had seen the movie and wrote a clear opinion on it.

Plot: 3/5
Honestly it wasn’t really as-advertised. The impression I got from the trailer was that this is it- this is when we see how humans went nuts and killed each other and how monkeys gained the intelligence, speech, and took over. I thought by the end of it you could go into “Planet of the Apes” knowing exactly what happened. But that’s not how this movie works.

The focus of the movie is almost entirely on how apes gained their advanced intelligence and how they got organized. It does not explain how they took over and it doesn’t show how humans fell, though if you stick around after the end of the film it kind of hints at the full story. It feels like all that was added almost as an afterthought and is not a feature of the movie. So I’d say the movie is just about the chimps and their increase in IQ. Or rather one chimp, Caesar, and the creator of the neuro-virus that is meant to help with Alzheimer’s and autism, but makes the chips brains develop faster.

Acting: 4/5
There are some kind of cliche performances from the supporting cast, but overall I think it’s OK. Tom Felton plays a kind of bad guy (more like a jerk) who is supposed to take care of the apes in a shelter but bullies them instead. He seems suited to the baddie roll, though I was hoping to see him more as a kind of side kick to the main guy.

There is really nothing special to say about the acting. It’s not bad, but it’s not award winning. Of course, the movie is mainly carried by Caesar the ape, and there is actually not much dialogue, so it’s harder to rate the acting on a digital monkey…

Directing: 5/5
The director definitely took advantage of the San Francisco setting with tons of city shots and several scenes in the redwood forests. It’s steady cam mostly from what I noticed, not a lot of jumping around. There also aren’t many sudden jump-out-at-you shots, which I appreciate. There is a scene of some overly graphic violence, but considering how movies these days are going that’s nothing.

Other Things

It’s hard to write a long review for this movie without giving much away. In the end I think everything was just… meh. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t “See it 5 times” good in my book. It’s something to see if you’re a fan of the original series. I’d wait until it came out on TV to see it.

There are 3 big throw-backs to the original “Planet of the Apes” (the original-original, not the re-make). The first is a news story about the crew of a space mission to Mars. It includes some rendered shots of the beginning of the original movie. Later on Tom Felton’s friend is lying on the couch watching a movie and, if I’m not mistaken, that was also some footage from the original movie. Finally, without giving too much away, when Caesar grabs Tom Felton’s arm he says “Take your hands off me, you damn dirty ape”, which is the iconic line from when Heston’s character suddenly yelled out in the original movie, proving he can in fact speak.

I really think the director shot himself in the foot here. He spends tons of time explaining how the apes got the intelligence we see them with in “Planet of the Apes”. If he was going to do that he shouldn’t have added the bit in the end which gives a hint at how humans lost control and died out mostly. It could have been split as two movies, but now it just feels sloppy, like he spent all this time with the very first chapter then tried to jam the rest of the story into a small span (namely 2 minutes or so).

I was surprised to see among the actors David Hewlett (Stargate Atlantis’ Dr. McKay), who has a role of a neighbor. You don’t see him too often, but it was nice to see him all the same ^^

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