A welcome addition to the apes’ canon started in 1963 by Pierre Boulle with his novel, La Planete
des Singes. I doubt he had any idea of the longevity of his idea, 50 years later they’d be still making films.
The second reboot of the Apes franchise after the embarrassment of the Burton/Wahlberg effort is such a breath of fresh air, filled with a great many right notes that make for a great story. The few gripes I had are outweighed by the sum of its parts.
James Franco is Will Rodman, our human protagonist and does a great job until Basil Exposition rears its ugly head. Only a tiny amount but the odd one line here, one line there to let us, the dumb-fuck audience know what is happening, which is weird considering how much most of the film steers clear of the expo. If a line is written badly you do what you can to make it real. It ain’t easy. A lot of time goes by without any speaking, lots of great scenes of the main ape, Caesar (Andy Serkis) growing up and trying to find his place in this strange world.
Rodman is a scientist who is trying to find a cure for Alzhiemers, which his father is suffering from. John Lithgow is, as always, a joy, bringing such sensitivity to the role of Charles Rodman, Will’s father.
Frieda Pinto gives good face and, for the most part, it’s fine until ‘O-Oh Who’s this barging through the door desperate to get his tuppence in’? Ah yes, Basil of the many expositions, and then wooden is as wooden does.
David Oyewelo tries his best at the greedy whor-porate boss but is just in it too much and whose end doesn’t come soon enough.
It’s weird looking back and seeing such strong well told pieces of narrative that are offset, only a tiny amount, but offset nevertheless, by these trite bits of sloppy characterization and exposition. Either be daring or don’t. Don’t piss about on the fence.
These are tiny criticisms of the overall picture, it is well-made, well-told and well-executed and is a very enjoyable film.
Andy Serkis is fantastic, once again proving that the actor brings his immense talent to creating a character filled with nuance, bringing to mind Lon Chaney Jr and his ‘Man of a Thousand Faces’ title. Surely it’s only a matter of time before the award ceremonies to catch up and recognize.
Rupert Wyatt directs with confidence and skill, having shown his talents previously with the great prison drama, The Escapist.
This is a lot of fun, with some wonderful set pieces and sturdy performances. It says something when the most interesting parts are C.G.I. and here Wyatt has managed to ground them in an emotional reality, more often than not missing in such films.