In an age of Hollywood reboots, remakes and sequels, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” makes the rare move of being a movie in and of itself in spite of its well-known origins.
Critics have responded favorably to Rupert Wyatt’s reboot of the “Planet of the Apes” franchise, and MTV’s own Movies Blog heralds the flick as being this year’s “Batman Begins.” Wyatt’s sharp directing and the tight script both earned credit from reviewers, but the aspect of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” that had all the critics ready for more was the special-effects work done by WETA. Andy Serkis’ Caesar was universally acknowledged as the best part of the movie, and for good reason from what we can tell. But don’t let us tell you whether you’ll love it or hate it. Check out our roundup of what the critics have to say and make the decision yourself in theaters this weekend.
“None of the human plotlines rival Caesar’s — not the perfunctory romantic teaming of Franco and Freida Pinto, nor the ongoing corporate chicanery at Gen-Sys, laying sequel groundwork. As tight as the parallel homo sapiens storylines are lax, Caesar’s prison conversion to charismatic pan-ape revolutionist is near-silent filmmaking, with simple and precise images illustrating Caesar’s General-like divining of personalities and his organization of a group from chaos to order. All of this is shown in absorbing, propulsive style, as Caesar broodingly bides his time like a king in disguise awaiting restoration.” — Nick Pinkerton, The Village Voice
The Special Effects
“Even if you don’t buy ‘Rise’ as a semiprofound social document, the utterly seductive integration of apes and men should slacken your jaw in amazement. We have reached that moment in movie history when the century-long chasm between live action and animation has been closed; ‘Rise’ is a seamless blend of the two. It marks a major advance over ‘Avatar,’ for it allows the motion-capture actors and the ‘real’ ones to interact in natural locations — in the wild, so to speak — beyond ‘Avatar’s’ enclosed fantasyland of the planet Pandora. Technical innovation is sometimes yoked to leaden narratives, but Wyatt and his collaborators made sure to wed their visual strategies to potent themes. The result is a work of high, often thrilling popular art.” — Richard Corliss, Time
“Moral questions about genetic engineering are at the story’s core. Caroline (Freida Pinto), a primatologist whom Franco falls for, is the voice of reason: ‘I love chimpanzees,’ she tells Will. ‘I’m also afraid of them. It’s appropriate to be afraid of them.’ The bond between Will and Caesar heightens the chimp’s growing unease about his own identity. When Will and Caroline take him out to a park on a leash, Caesar encounters a German shepherd similarly tethered. The two face off, and Caesar later signs to Will: ‘Am I a pet?’ Later, Caesar rushes to defend a befuddled Charles as he’s bullied by a neighbor and winds up in a prison. Behind bars, Caesar resolves that apes must stage a revolution.” — Claudia Puig, USA Today
“In the 1968 original ‘Planet of the Apes’ (based on the French novel by Pierre Boulle), Charlton Heston’s character, an astronaut stranded on a future Earth run by warlike primates, began the movie as a sneering cynic and ended it as an anguished humanist. Being imprisoned and mistreated by animals taught Heston’s Taylor the value of his manhood. Caesar, the super-intelligent chimp protagonist of ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ (Twentieth Century Fox), follows the reverse trajectory: He’s an ape who reclaims his animal nature after being imprisoned and mistreated by men. Whereas the original was a work of speculative science fiction — a chin-stroking fable about evolution in the nuclear age — this revisiting of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ myth is an animal-rights manifesto disguised as a prison-break movie. And, unlike the murky 2001 Tim Burton reboot, this movie is a worthy claimant to the simian throne and the rare summer blockbuster that gets more, not less, fun as it goes along.” — Dana Stevens, Slate.com
The Final Word
” ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ traces the roots of the venerable franchise back to a single resident of contemporary San Francisco, a supersmart simian named Caesar. In the process, the film, which Rupert Wyatt directed from an audacious screenplay by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, rises above its dramatic deficits, boosts the collective IQ of this summer’s movies and swings into flights of kinetic fantasy that blow the collective mind. (If you think you’ve had it with special effects, wait till you see Caesar and his ape army battling our befuddled species on the Golden Gate Bridge.)” — Joe Morgenstern, The Wall Street Journal
Check out everything we’ve got on “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”
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