Last night I caught a screening of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. As a fan of the original films and a James Franco mark, I was interested in seeing the movie, though not overly excited. I left the Fox lot satisfied and surprised. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a great summer blockbuster that’s smarter and subtler than most big-budget movies. Here are some random thoughts (not a review!) on the movie. Spoilers ahead!!!
– Clothing note: I almost always dress up for videogame-industry events and rarely dress up for movie screenings. Aside from my friend Paul, I rarely see anyone I know at screenings. Last night I wore my usual movie screening combo of Lulu Lemon yoga pants, a t-shirt, and a Yankee hat. I was a little embarrassed when X-Play Morgan Webb took the seat behind me. Oops.
– The movie’s writing was smart and respectful to the source material. It’s easy to make the Planet of the Apes premise ridiculous, but things mostly made sense in this movie. There were a lot of homage moments to the original movies. Some of them were bits of dialogue, some were twists on old action sequences, and others used simple props. All of them made me smile.
– Up until the end, there was a surprising amount of subtlety in the film. One of my problems with the Watchmen movie was that scenes were changed to hit the audience over the head with plot points, as opposed to the comics where things are implied. This movie implies a lot of things that most moviegoers should figure out. For most of the movie, it’s implied that a virus leads to the rise of the apes and the fall of humans. There are also several hints on the movie’s sequel and how humans return to Earth. I absolutely loved that the writers and director were not clumsily heavy handed with plot points.
– James Franco is awesome. I thought he had a bright future when I first saw him in Freaks and Geeks, then I wasn’t so sure when I saw him in Spider-Man and Pineapple Express. He erased any doubts I had about his talent in 127 Hours and he’s excellent in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Similar to how the movie is written, Franco delivers his lines so that you take him and the movie’s story seriously. He’s believable in a role and situation that could easily have been asinine. On a side note, I’m convinced, at the very least, that he will become the next John Turturro — a guy that’s good in every role he plays, even if the material he’s working with isn’t the best.
– Freida Pinto is gorgeous. I’ve always had a thing for sexy Indian girls. And yes, I’m using this point as an excuse to post a sexy Freida Pinto photo. I’m not sure about her talent because I’ve only watched two of her movies, but I sure love staring at her.
– The ape actors in this movie are amazing — by far the best ape actors I’ve ever seen. The simian thespians in Every Which Way but Loose, Project X, Ed, etc. are nothing compared the ones in this film. Hold up, my phone is ringing. Wait, what?!? Gollum (Andy Serkis) plays the lead ape Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes and a lot of the simian action was computer generated?!? Damn, I was hoping for a golden age of ape actors….
– It was cool seeing San Francisco used for a lot of the movie. I miss my old town and it was nice to see a lot of streets I used to walk. It was weird that I recognized certain rooftops and ledges. Why the hell would I remember those?!? Perhaps I secretly moonlighted as San Francisco’s equivalent of Daredevil while I thought I was sleeping. That would explain why I’m not a morning person.
– It was nice seeing Draco Malfoy (Tom Felton) in a movie that didn’t involve Harry Potter. It was also neat watching him act with an American accent. There was one scene where he’s facing off against Caesar and wielding a shock stick. It was close enough to a wand that it took a ton of self control not to scream, “Avada kedavra!!!” or “Expelliarmus!!!” or “Stupefy!!!”.
– Overall I really enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes. I haven’t seen a ton of movies this year, but this was clearly the best of the bunch. It’s certainly better than all the superhero movies I’ve (not) reviewed on RPad.tv. I highly recommend giving this film a go, especially if you’re a fan of the originals.