RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Review by Michael Jacobson
Stars: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Andy
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: December 13, 2011
“Apes will f—king rise.” – Jenna Marbles, internet comedienne
We’ve been going back to the Planet of the Apes for almost half a century. It’s time to see how it all began.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the latest installment, and possibly the best since the original film. The time was right, combining topical ideas such as medical research for brain disorders with modern technologies that allow real actors to offer their services in motion capture for artificial performances that are more real than many live movie stars give.
Will Rodman (Franco) works for a pharmaceutical company in pursuit of a cure for the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease. It’s more than just a career pursuit…his father (Lithgow) is deteriorating before his eyes. His company experiments on apes, and finding some great promise with a new virus that seems to encourage brain development.
One such ape is Caesar. Left to Will as a baby, but the offspring of a promising experiment, Caesar knows sign language and impressive intelligence. He becomes part of the family. But the virus, which seems to show incredible results in apes brains, actually turns out to be lethal to humans.
Caesar’s over-protective instincts land him in animal protective services, a misnomer if there ever was one. The apes are humiliated, abused, and…well, ripe for a leader.
The first two thirds of the movie are intriguing and thoughtful. The last third? Simply spectacular. I’ve gotten my fill of CGI epics, but motion capture technology still intrigues me, and it has never been used better than in this film. Andy Serkis might be the world’s greatest behind-the-scenes actor. He brought to life Gollum and King Kong, but his Caesar is one of the most true performances you will ever see from a CGI image. If you can’t believe his intelligence, you have no movie. You will believe.
This Blu-ray is a knockout from start to finish. From the interiors of science labs to the great redwoods of California, this is a vibrant, detailed and striking presentation. It’s clean and crisp throughout, with solid colors and images.
This is an explosive and effective use of uncompressed sounds. As the ape army gets bigger, the stage gets wider, and by the time the climax rolls around, you’ll feel like you’re right in the middle of the conflict. Patrick Doyle’s score is also a rich, rewarding part of the listening experience.
There are two commentary tracks, plus 11 deleted scenes and 7 featurettes, including a look at the motion capture technology, Andy Serkis, the score, the apes themselves and more. There is also a digital copy for your portable devices.
I love science fiction that’s about ideas instead of just technology. This is a series rooted in thought, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a worthy chapter to a storied franchise. Moving, smart, and thrilling, this Blu-ray is one that delivers.