the apes are back!

Posted on September 13, 2011

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prequel movies are a breed unto themselves. part of the problem is that while they try and be really original, they are unfortunately tied into whatever has gone before – wherever the story has already travelled. some are truly awful and should never have been made [star wars I-III are the obvious favourites for bashing]. but… and it’s a big but (!) they can also be great. ‘the godfather 2’ surpasses the original movie in story and emotion providing a life story for vito corleone, but also the rise of michael corleone. it’s a truly awesome film. then there’s chris nolan’s ‘batman begins’ and michael vaughan’s ‘x-men: first class’ to name just two that prove that you can preserve the mythos of a story while creating a cracking stand alone movie at the same time.

now we have the prequel to one of the most fondly remembered movies of the 60s – ‘planet of the apes’. everyone and his dog knows the story so i won’t go into that, suffice to say that it wasn’t just a great slice of sci-fi pie, here was a movie which [unsubtly] tackled racism and class division. the shiny new ‘rise of the planet of the apes’ handles the same issues and does so in a very clever and incredibly emotional way, which makes it a fantastic movie, whether or not you connect it with the original movies.our scientist, will rodman [franco], is developing a cure for alzheimer’s and his drug has shown incredible results on a test chimp. said chimp gives birth to a wee bairn which rodman names caesar and decides to look after. given the effects on the chimp, rodman administers the drug to his father to hopefully cure his alzheimer’s.
fast forward a few years on and It turns out that the positive effects of the drug given to caesar’s mother are affecting the chimp who grows in both iintellect and behaviour. sadly, because of an unfortunate event caesar’s quickly carted off to a shelter for apes, where [guess what] he now witnesses the cruelty dished out to his kind by the hands of humans. to say it makes him mad is an understatement, and the way events unfold from here on in is done in a very smart and highly entertaining way.
surprisingly the people in this film are all rather… predictable and two dimensional. they really do play second fiddle to the amazing apes, which surprised me about franco after his amazing turn in ‘127hours’.
i thought that maybe some of the apes were real but every single ape is cgi! they are amazing. caesar is obviously the most complex character of the movie and is really the central role, andy serkis should have had top billing on this movie as his ‘acting’ for the ape is incredible. you honestly do forget that you are looking at a computer image.

as i stated earlier, the original planet of the apes had a hard hitting message, and so to does this one. this is more than a movie about apes going bananas and causing carnage, it can either be seen as a metaphor to remind us that everyone deserves to be treated equal, or simply as a big shouty “NO!” to people who mistreat animals.

as my good wife said at the end of the movie, “we’re supposed to believe that those few apes take over the planet are we?” [or words to that effect]. i personally thought the movie handled this small uprising in such a way that you could absolutely believe they would eventually take over the planet. of course it’s still silly and unbelievable, but it’s really entertaining and in its setting – completely believeable.
There is one particular moment in the movie where i was just blown away. i sat bolt upright in my seat and whooped!! if you’ve seen it you know which scene i mean.
I can’t wait to see it again.

“in His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” (job 12:10)

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