*Apes alone weak. Apes together strong.* Sign Language
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writer: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
The reviews are out and people are saying “science fiction classic”, “Oscar worthy ape performance”, “best movie of the year”. I would honestly like to know what they are smoking, or perhaps their bananas have been spiked with something. Sure this movie is not bad; it’s a pretty damn decent blockbuster in a year where some have said blockbusters have been lacking. But I think there a few too many people kissing its shiny metal ass with out any real reason to.
Acting in this puppy is a little hit and miss, with some actors being given next to nothing to work with. Most of the time actors have the base archetypes to go with (greedy capitalist, evil shelter keeper, asshole neighbour), and for this it allows the audience to readily identify who they need to cheer and boo, but at the same time it weakens the story as the characters are too shallow to create anything profound. Oh sorry, I made a mistake. When I’m talking about that I mean all the human characters, cause the work on character creation with the various monkeys is awesome. Ceaser (as performed by Andy Serkis, who else) is a wonder of what can be accomplished with computers now a days. I truly cared about his journey. His interactions with John Lithgow in the beginning were truly touching, and I forgot I was watching a CGI creation. People have bandied about that Serkis should get an Oscar for his performance, but honestly if any Oscars are given it needs to be to Weta and their team that fully realised Ceaser.
Before I depart talking about actors I do need to say that John Lithgow and James Franco are excellent. Franco has been coping a bit of flack lately but he’s a good actor, and I’m hoping this performance while not great goes to derailing the anti Franco sentiment. Lithgow also has to be commended for his touching portrayal of an Alzheimer’s sufferer. He was one of the few actors I cared about; also his reactions go along way in building how we feel about Ceaser.
Visually the movie is fantastic, with the CGI used for the monkeys being the highlight. Sure there are some shots that look a little rushed, particularly in the group shots, but in my mind their main task was to make us care about monkeys who want to take over the world. In this respect they succeed had this bloody hard task. I mean come on; would you cheer for the downfall of mankind? Okay I know I would, but then I’m a disgruntled monkey, of course I would be down with their cause.
Getting away from the CGI effects, Rupert Wyatt has a wonderful eye, and many of the scenes were beautiful; particularly the redwood forest scenes. The contrast of the sterile scientific labs, idyllic peaceful neighbourhoods and forests, and the harsh ugly animal sanctuary do create differentiation for the audience. It’s almost a cheat key for the audience in what they should be feeling Ceaser and the apes. Yet again this is an excellent technique to get us on side with the force that is actually wiping us out.
Now the movies weakest link is the script. There is some terrible dialogue in this movie, as well as some truly underdeveloped human characters. While it doesn’t make for a terrible film, it does mean that unlike the best science fiction movies it does stop delving into deeper issues. There is a brief look at the cruelties done to animals in the name of science, but this theme is very superficial and used to move the plot along, rather than be a hearty topic to chew over. It’s a shame that more attention couldn’t be given as there is potential for this to actually be a classic.
So overall I think it is worth people’s time heading into the cinema to see this. The CGI is actually a brilliant step forward, the movie can actually be somewhat touching even if a little bit shallow. While not exactly a science fiction classic, it could have been with some fine tuning. Oh and it’s nice to see a blockbuster that isn’t 3D. Make like a monkey and swing your way into the cinema now.