Since the first King Kong movie in 1933, many ape movies have made their mark on the silver screen. But with each and every movie, they have advanced in terms of technology and the magical experience they can provide. From monkey masks to actors playing in a motion-capture monkey, ape movies have come a long way. So, for the movie’s astounding visual effects and the applaudable story, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is definitely one of the best movies of the year.
The movie is set in San Francisco in the near future. The film opens at Gen Sys; a genetic therapy phamaceutical company, where a geneticist Will Rodman (James Franco) has been using apes for tests in developing a drug which could cure Alzheimer’s. He is desparate for the drug because his father Charles (John Lithgow) suffers from it. Will also has adopted a chimp named Caesar, who gets orphaned when his genetically enhanced mother gets killed after running wild at his lab.
But the story is less about Will or his father as much as it is about Caesar who emerges as the hero. He is not a mere chimp, he is a child; a very bright one indeed. He isn’t just doing acrobatic jumps in his attic playroom or hanging on to cords and swinging on the ceiling lamp of the kitchen, he is actually reaching for destiny higher than a cookie jar.
Andy Serkis playing the monkey in motion capture, gives life to the creature. The time travel from youth to maturity is presented in a beautiful sequence, where he climbs the tops of the highest tree in Muir Woods as a young chimp and then is shown staring across the San Francisco bay, fully grown.
As a matured ape, he is agressive, but his first act of violence is in defense to his ‘grandfather’. That is when the real action that we oh-so waited for begins. Caesar attacks the neighbour after he sees him threatening Charles for accidentally wrecking his car. For that, he gets sent to an animal shelter, where he is ill-treated by the warden and a sadistic guard. Among all the other brawn chimps, Caesar knows better, so he makes an escape and filches a supply of the wonder drug and gives it the chimps, an orangutan and a gorilla. He liberates the others, playing the Alpha, leading them to revolt against the human opressors.
Will’s ambition to improve life through science is questionable. Frieda Pinto, playing his girlfriend is the one who raises the most questions. While revolting, there are times when the apes stop short of harming their opressors, making us feel as if the chimps are more humane than human themselves. The story is about revolt, a question mark on science and so much more. Everyone can have his or her own interpretation to how the story runs but if that isn’t what you’re looking for, it is still a joy ride.
The performances by the actors are fine. Pinto stays in her role as the vet and Will’s girlfriend, but there is nothing more special than that. Director Rupert Wyatt has taken a big leap with this movie after his 2008 debut ‘The Escapist’. The movie is a technical landmark and Serkis as Caesar has a huge part in making it happen. In fact, he might even put on a challenge for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to give him an Oscar, even though he is never seen on screen.
The movie is fantastic and every scene grabs your attention. It can put you in your seats, and without a muscle moving make every inch of you twist and turn. The movie is a triumph of spectacle; a must watch.