Sunday, 20 November 2011

Film #63 - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I was not looking forward to this – yet another ‘franchise reboot’ in a conspicuously uncreative era – but wait: it’s not that bad at all. Let’s get the negatives out of the way first: OK, so the basic storyline (caged laboratory apes given ‘clever’ drugs, become too intelligent, break and wreak revenge on cruel humans) is daft enough, and the clumsiness of the title spills over into the dialogue, complementing the Swiss cheese plot with cuts of the finest Wiltshire ham.

To be fair, it’s easy to take cheap shots at the film. In fact, it’s fundamentally decent blockbuster fare, it has fun with the Apes mythology and the special effects are extraordinary. In particular, the final epic battle sequence through San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge is spectacular, with some of the finest jumping gorilla action you will have ever seen. Andy Serkis’s performance, if that’s an appropriate word for his mo-cap work as primo primate Caesar, is acceptably simian, James Franco plays a straight bat and the always-excellent John Lithgow gives a moving and understated exposition of Alzheimer’s. The main villain – representing all-that-is-wrong-with-humanity – is probably the immaculately tailored David Oyelowo, though the boos and hisses are hogged by Draco Malfoy as nasty zookeeper number one

In short: very silly and not half as profound as it thinks it is, but slick and entertaining nonetheless.