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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

While my crowd of friends sorta dwindled for midnight movies over the course of the summer, the BFF and I realized that it was a good time for us to catch a movie together. So we just sorta continued that on our own this week with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The slight downside is that I sure as hell am not gonna stay up an extra 30-45 min doing my write up immediately after.

Anyways, I was rather impressed with this film. Whenever I hear "reboot" or "prequel" or any similar term, I'm always apprehensive. But I felt Apes was rather well done. The characters had more meat to them than you'd expect, which made the story something you care about, regardless of its tie in to a well known franchise. On that note, I haven't seen any other Apes films (original or otherwise) though I've wanted to for a while. I feel there'll be some sorta rerelease to coincide with Rise's DVD/BluRay. That said, I didnt feel at all lost or anything. I was able to get some of the more obvious references, including the predictable one (which I wont spoil). I could also sense when something else was clearly a throwback, even if I didnt quite get it. So while I would have loved to be able to fully appreciate all aspects of this film, I am very much looking forward to watching this again with that background.

The cast was led by James Franco. I've mentioned before that he's on my list of actors that I'll follow blindly, although he may have betrayed that trust a bit with Your Highness earlier this year. He certainly redeemed himself here. This was the type of character and emotional role that I've come to expect from him, and it's great that it came from a "summer blockbuster" type. I really hope that's a trend that Hollywood continues (look at Thor earlier). Strong, unexpected performance from John Lithgow. I know and love him more as a comedic actor, so I forget that he's incredibly strong with the dramatic. His storyline with Franco (father with deteriorating mental health and the son working to find the cure) was what really drove most of the film. Freida Pinto was a lovely and welcome addition to the film, but she felt kinda unnecessary. There was never really any development in her relationship with Franco's character, and she didnt contribute much other than looking pretty and occassionally providing a question or opinion. I blame the writers, not her.

However, I gotta say the strongest, or at least most important performance came from motion-capture expert Andy Serkis as Caeser. I love that that man has really made a niche for himself in Hollywood, and for good reason. He's what makes all the difference in a CGI character, if you want Gollum vs a Smurf. You really can see the emotion conveyed thru that computerized ape, and it makes you feel a real connection to the character.

The movie did feel kinda divided in two, but this is one of those rare cases where it worked very well. You typically feel a disconnecting jolt between the two halves, but Apes made one of the most successful transitions I've ever seen in this type of structure. The first half was very Marley and Me with a monkey. The second half was the actual Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Without the first half, the second would have been meaningless. While a lot of what happened in the second half would normally start putting me to sleep at a midnight, I was on the edge of my seat because of the connection developed early on in the film.

So finally, after a mediocre summer where I couldnt honestly answer the "Any good movies I should see" question for most of the season, I'm happy to respond with "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
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