Rise of the Planet of the Apes

 

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Written by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver

Based on The Planet of the Apes movies, 1968-73

Adapted from The Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

Cinematography by Andrew Lesnie

Editing by Conrad Buff IV & Mark Goldblatt

Production Design by Claude Paré

Music by Patrick Doyle

Produced by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Peter Chernin & Dylan Clarke

Directed Rupert Wyatt

2011


Cast:

Andy Serkis

James Franco

Freida Pinto

John Lithgow

Tom Felton

Brian Cox

David Oyelowo

Tyler Labine


Production Studio:

Theatrical: Dune Entertainment & Dune Entertainment

Video: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment


Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: BD50

Feature Size: ca. 26 GB

Bit Rate: Moderate (25-30 Mbps)

Runtime: 105 minutes

Chapters: 28

Region: A


Audio:

English DTS-HD MA 5.1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1

French Dolby Digital 2.0

English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Commentary)

English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Commentary)


Subtitles:

Optional English SDH, French & Spanish


Extras: (all in HD)

• Audio Commentary by Director Rupert Wyatt
• Audio Commentary by Writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver

  1. Mythology of the Apes (7:10)

• The Genius of Andy Serkis (7:45)
• A New Generation of Apes (9:40)
• Scene Breakdown (1:34)
• Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries (8:40)
• Composing the Score with Patrick Doyle (8:05)
• The Great Apes: Chimp, Gorilla, Orangutan (22:35)
• Character Concept Art Gallery
• 3 Theatrical Trailers
• DVD/Digital Copy Disc


Presentation:

Amaray Blu-ray Case:

BRD + DVD/Digital Copy

Street Date: December 13, 2011


 

The Movie: 8

Being something of a fan of the Planet of the Apes movies of the late 1960s and early 1970s, despite their increasing flaws, I anticipated with some relish Tim Burton’s 2001 rethinking of the story.  Like many, I was seriously disappointed, not so much in the character design and execution, but the screenplay itself (setting the story as early as 2029, the preposterous climactic battle, and the denouement's failed attempt at irony, among other things.)  So my expectations were lower still for yet another remake ten years later - this despite the advances in CGI and, most of all, the presence of Mr. King Kong himself: Andy Serkis.


The director, Rupert Wyatt, was unknown to me. A quick look at his IMDB credits indicates a varied, if relatively thin, experience. As of today we see 4 credits each for Writing and Directing, 2 for Cinematography and 1 for Producing - some of which for work in television.  I think it’s fair to say that I did not come to the new film with an open mind.  Even so, I went to my local cineplex to catch it as soon as I could out of the box, and I was glad to have done so, allowing me to sort myself out before attending to reviews or Internet chatter.


   


My take on where and how Rise of the POTA fits into the storyline is a bit different from most: I see it not as a re-imagining of the original story but as a rethinking of the fourth movie: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which tells of how apes on Earth in our own timeline came to talk and, more important, to rebel against their human masters.  In Conquest, “Caesar,” the offspring of talking apes from our future, Zira and Cornelius, arrives in the city full grown in the care of Armando, the circus master.  By this time, a plague had wiped out man’s favorite pets, dogs and cats, and started to use trained apes in their place.  The apes, however, are too humanoid for humans to treat with the same dignity they gave their previous pets, and a form of slavery began to emerge. Caesar teaches his fellow simians the one word that humans understand: “NO!” - and the stage is set for a full-scale war.


In the new movie, the time is set in our present with no regard for a future concerning the apes.  A branch of corporate/medical science, led by a team investigating a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, uses apes caught in the wilds of Africa for their experiments.  The team’s leader, Will Rodman (James Franco), observes that one of these apes, named “Bright Eyes” (not coincidentally, the name Zira gives to Taylor) because of the pigmentation in his eyes caused by the use of their experimental drug, is particularly intelligent, made all the more so by the drug.  When Bright Eyes becomes violent the experiment is shut down, and Rodman brings Bright Eyes, soon to be “Caesar” (Andy Serkis), home instead of sending him to the incinerator.


   


At home, Will father’s (John Lithgow) is suffering from - you guessed it - Alzheimer’s, and the son’s hopes for a cure, dashed.  But not entirely, as chance provides an opportunity for Will to use the drug on his father and - presto, chango!  But will the new and improved elder Rodman last - and if so, at what cost?


Will meets veterinarian Caroline Arahana (Freida Pinto, the Indian beauty from Slumdog Millionaire) and, with Caesar cheering them on, they become a couple - since someone not emotionally involved needs to keep an eye on the situation.  This she does.  However, Nature will have its way, as Dr. Ian Malcolm points out in Jurassic Park, and poor Caesar must be placed in a home for ordinary apes.  It’s not a very nice place - thus the rest of movie, which is, for the most part: entertaining, properly violent and, unlike the original, almost completely devoid of meaning and without subtext.  My only complaint, really, is its cumbersome title. Rise of the Apes would have been better.


   


Image: 9/9

I remember that the theatrical Rise of the POTA did not have a particularly engaging image.  I thought it thick, contrasty and somewhat smeared, and wondered what Blu-ray might do for it, or to it.  It turns out that the transfer does not reinterpret the filmmakers’ intentions; it only makes them only clearer, which, apparently.  The image is grainy, a little mildewed perhaps, but, thanks to starting off with a fine grain films stock, there are some real textures here.  There are no transfer accidents or problems.


   


Audio: 9/8

I have to say I do like my surround sound set up: When a soundtrack is properly mixed and present, the result at home is dynamic, razor sharp, immersive and directionally meaningful.  And that’s what Rise is.  Been inside a monkey cage at a zoo lately?  No?  Or on Siamang Island?  Well, step inside the cage on the Rise of the POTA set and prepare to be screamed at from all directions, to say nothing of attacked and jibed.  In Africa, we add birds zipping and more screaming.  On the Golden Gate bridge, helicopters hover to the left and right of us, with sprays of bullets coming in from every which way but loose.


   


Extras: 8

The two commentaries speak to the movie’s technical challenges (Mr. Wyatt) and characters, thematic background and foreground (Mr. Jaffa and Ms. Silver).  The features I found most interesting were “Mythology of the Apes” which looks at how the new movie fits in with the previous films, and “The Great Apes”, a proper docufeature about chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.


There’s also a nice segment in which Patrick Doyle talks about how he goes about composing his score and how he incorporates natural ape vocal inflections.  On the other hand, I can’t say I cared much for the deleted scenes, since none of them are in a finished state. Perhaps this segment should have been titled “Andy Serkis in motion capture” - except that we already have one of those called “The Genius of Andy Serkis.” 


All in all, a good many features in HD that describe how the movie was made and the debt owed to its predecessors.


   


Recommendation: 9

The best Planet of the Apes movie since the original in 1968.  It’s got all the bits in all the right places: convincing motion capture, compelling performances by all the apes, especially the King of the Apes, Andy Serkis, a good if not entirely freshly minted story, and proper obeisance to the original movies.  Fox’s transfer does the new film proud and their bonus features have a few worthy items.  Recommended and highly rewatchable.


   


     

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

December 15, 2011




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