I don’t know if I’m losing it or what…I liked it. I could leave it there, but I feel that owe you an explanation. This is a film with a heavy dose of fromage. The good kind. Not the blue stinky kind rather the Velveeta fake cheese kind. And I do like me some Velveeta on celery. Something really good for you mixed with something less so. Heaven!
Scientist Will Rodman (James Franco – 127 Hours, Eat Pray Love) has several reasons to work so hard in his attempts developing an experimental drug that regenerates brain cells. Besides the fact that it will helps lots of people Will’s father (John Lithgow – Shrek, Cliffhanger) has Alzheimers. Just when Will thinks he has had a breakthrough something goes wrong and the main ape he has been testing on goes wild. Will’s boss, Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo – The Last King of Scotland, The Help), shuts down the program.
The animal handler, Robert (Tyler Labine – Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil, Zack and Miri Make a Porno), is not “good” with having all the apes destroyed. He is heartbroken. Especially after discovering that the ape who went wild had just had a baby and was just protecting it. Against all better judgment Will decides to take the baby ape home with him.
Will raises Caesar (Andy Serkis – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the King, The Adventures of Tintin) like a child, but always keeps him in the house. And continues working on the experimental drug giving it to Caesar. He shows incredible language and developmental advances. Seeing how well it has worked on Caesar, Will starts giving the drugs to his father. They work and he returns to what he used to be. Things are going well as Will starts dating a primatologist named Caroline (Freida Pinto – Slumdog Millionaire, Immortals).
When he is a couple of years old, Caesar sees the neighbour getting angry at Will’s father. He escapes from the house in an effort to save him and attacks the neighbour. As a result, Caesar is taken from Will and is now in the custody of an ape sanctuary in San Bruno. There he is put in a cage and picked on by the other apes and treated poorly by keeper Dalton (Tom Felton – Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Anna and the King). Caesar is miserable.
Wanting justice for himself and his fellow apes, Caesar comes up with a plan that involves the drug that Will has developed and assembling a simian army. This plan and the resulting consequences will change ape-human relationships forever.
I had very low expectations for this film as I really did not like the remake of Planet of the Apes (2001) with Mark Wahlberg. This one was different with less of a focus on science fiction and more on emotion (human and simian). Smart move, Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist)!
Part of the praise for the emotional aspect of the film has to be heaped upon actor Andy Serkis. Now, if you have seen the film you might be thinking to yourself, “Andy Serkis? He wasn’t in the film!” Oh, but he was, boys and girls. Serkis was Caesar. He acted out the part with the other actors with all those funny dot things all over him to track the movements of his face and then a computer transformed him into an animated or CGI ape. And voila – sadness, anger, fear, innocence. Cool and effective. Not the first time Andy Serkis has done this type of acting (he was also Gollum in The Lord of the Rings films) and he is probably the best person in the world at it. He brings a type of human element to whatever creature/animal he is playing. Probably the star of the film even though his face is never seen onscreen.
Underneath it all there are some interesting ethical/moral questions being posited by the film. Animal testing – good or bad? Human treatment of animals.
-Mythology of the Apes
-The Genius of Andy Serkis
-A New Generation of Apes
-Character Concept Art Gallery
-Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries
-Composing the Score with Patrick Doyle
-The Great Apes