Planet of the Apes has been around for a while, starting with the 1963 French novel “La Planète des singes.” After the success of the “Planet of the Apes” film in 1968, it was apparent that 20th Century Fox had a potential franchise in the making. After four less-successful sequels and one not-so-great remake, it seemed that after 40-plus years it might be time to retire the premise of the world being run by apes and humankind being enslaved by these ultra-intelligent primates.
But a smart script from Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa brought a new concept to the table: What if we tell the story of the fall of mankind, a prequel that could chronicle the beginning of the end for mankind and the rise of these great apes?
In this prequel, Will Rodman (James Franco) is a San Francisco-based scientist who is working on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which plagues his father, Charles (John Lithgow). When he begins to experiment on apes, he has a breakthrough in a test subject he names Cesar (played by Andy Serkis through motion capture technology and CGI effects). Will’s “cure” genetically enhances Cesar’s brain and in doing so, highly manipulates his mind to the point of human-like intelligence.
Being raised by Will and his associate Caroline (Freida Pinto), Cesar is loved and treated with respect, but when others at the facility don’t think it’s wise that Cesar is living with Will, they take him and cage him like the rest of the test subjects in a place run by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his secretly-malicious son Dodge (Tom Felton). After enduring abuse and seeing the suffering of his own kind, Cesar breaks free and infects the rest of the labs test-animals with the same serum that helped craft his own aptitude. The army of ultra-intelligent primates begin to fight back and go on a rampage across the city.
A revolution breaks out in which it is man versus ape. Can humans fight back against these creatures that the never considered a threat or will take over and become the dominant species of planet Earth?
With the film being released in less than a week, we are seeing more and more clips being released and the emotional power and amazing effects done by Weta Digital (the company behind the visuals for “Avatar”) are just outstanding. It’s Just Movies has previously shown you two clips that displayed the heartwarming relationship between Cesar, Will and Charles, and we now have five brand new clips that take place after those, starting at the point when Cesar is taken away from Will and leading into the ape revolution.
These first two clips are introduced by none other than Andy Serkis. The first clip is when Will and Caroline drop him off at John Landon’s facility and they see the accommodations are not all that they were told they would be. You can see the sadness and frustrations in their eyes as they have to leave Cesar behind in the sterile prison. The second clip gives us a look at Dodge as he brings unauthorized friends in to take a look at the animals in their cages. When one gets too close, you think things might get nasty, but they don’t and you can see the genius at work in Cesar’s brain as he takes advantage of the situation.
The next three clips are from the breakout of the apes in one facility and the releasing of many others and then the mayhem, destruction and fear they bring to the residents of San Francisco. In “Ape Escape,” there is evident organization and unspoken communication between Cesar and his minions as they divide and conquer. When attacking a second medical research facility, the liberated apes come across Steve Jacobs (David Oyelowo), the owner of the company, and they don’t look too happy with him.
In “San Francisco Rampage” and the final clip, “Mounted Attack,” we get to see the human-like cunning along with the animal ferocity and strength put to work as the local police force combats the apes, orangutans and gorillas. When a gorilla is about to kill a human, Cesar stops him, which shows us that he has good inside him still, but will that flickering light of hope be enough to stop him in his quest for domination?
I am really in amazement at the level of detail in the apes and the complexity of characteristics and subtle nuances each seem to possess. This is the first film to do motion-capture live on the physical sets, as opposed to filming them in an empty stage first and then adding in the characters later. This really adds to the interaction of the animals with their environments and human actors and brings a whole new level of believability to these completely-animated characters.
Do you think “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” will rise above the mediocrity of the 2001 reboot and re-invigorate life into this once dying franchise? If successful, 20th Century Fox is hoping to bring us sequels and director Rupert Wyatt has said, “I think we’re ending with certain questions, which is quite exciting. To me, I can think of all sorts of sequels to this film, but this is just the beginning.”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” will break its way into theaters Aug. 5.
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