A Second Glance: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

Featuring Motion Capture Work Of: Andy Serkis, Terry Notary, Karin Konaval, Christopher Gordon, Richard Ridings, and Devyn Dalton.

Starring: James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Tyler Labine, and David Oyelowo.

Directed By: Rupert Wyatt

This is technically part of my “second glance” set of reviews, but this is actually my third viewing of the film. I just had to watch it one more time before I went to see Dawn in theatres. Rise is a near-perfect film, with an absolutely breathtaking performance from Andy Serkis, who consistently is under appreciated for his work. He is Caesar. He breathes real life into Caesar. Real emotion. What makes him different from Optimus Prime, is that Serkis is the heart and soul of Caesar. Beneath the CGI hair is a real person.

As Caesar, Serkis allows the growth, from angry teenager, to defensive and confused, and finally to understanding his place in the world. Caesar realizes (too late) that humans are afraid of him, and even though he was treated as an equal at home, he will never be an equal to everyone else.

Another fantastic performance comes from Lithgow. I often tend to respond to these types of performances, because they are so incredibly heartbreaking. Lithgow’s performance,  as a father battling alzheimers, is tragic. But his moments with Caesar, and later with Franco, often show a sweeter…. scared side. You can look in his eyes and see real fear, that Alzheimers may one day come for him, and suddenly it won’t be a performance anymore.

Rupert Wyatt burst onto the scene with this film, and got a lot of praise. It’s by far the best version of Planet Of The Apes, including the entire (rather cheesy, yet classic) original series starring Charlton Heston. Wyatt, with a lot of help from Serkis, give a fully realized dramatic plot. You feel like this could happen. That man could be their own undoing. That we might create a new superpowered race of Apes.

If we do, I hope I’m around to see it, and I hope it’s at least half as interesting as Rise. Rise has not declined with each repeated viewing, and remains one of my favorite films to watch.

FINAL GRADE: A

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