Rise of the Planet of the Apes
, a franchise I always associated with campy costumes and a chiseled Charles Heston, does several things correctly from the start that makes it deep from the beginning:
1. The "smart-drug" is intended for a good purpose: curing Alzheimers. (An alternative use should be curing our idiocy in Congress.)
2. Rather than a random breakout being the spurn of the invasion, the film concerns itself with the rise of a leader: Caesar the chimp, and his goal.
3. Neither humans nor chimps are in right. Caesar's intentions are good, but he's still learning and doesn't understand how powerful he can be. James Franco's character truly does care for Caesar, but doesn't quite view him on the same level. The apes are just glad to be free, the humans view it as a rogue escape. This blurring of the separate factions does the job much better than Avatar
The human characters are well acted, but written on automatic. (But Tom Felton
's still awesomely cruel, and even wields a wand!) But it's Andy Serkis who gives the central performance. Throughout the entire film he feels like a real, intelligent ape. The film shows some of his feats at tests and puzzles, but where it really crafts him in his relationship with people, those who love, those who fear him, and how he commands the apes he lives with. I chuckled at this at first, but I'll have to agree with Orson Scott Card
's statement that Rise of the Planet of the Apes
is the best spiritual adaptation of his book Ender's Game
The special effects are of WETA standard, though I've always found Industrial Light And Magic
's texture effects to be better. But human characters augment them, and you'll never find yourself believing that the apes aren't really there. Subtle differences can be found between them and real ones, though, compare any image of Caesar with that of a real chimp, and look what's been changed in the eyes. A subtle complement, to make sure their human performance comes through.
Ultimately it's the intelligence and acting makes Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Hopefully the Academy will recognize motion-capture as real acting and Serkis can step up the podium to embrace "my Precious!"