Preface: One of the fans/followers of CineSportsTalk on Twitter is a character who goes by the name of LoMo Dimples. Mr. Dimples portrays himself as a baseball fan who happens to be a silverback gorilla. For more about Mr. Dimples, follow him on Twitter @LoMoDimples. We thought it would be fun for Dimples to review Rise of the Planet of the Apes for us, seeing as, you know, he’s a gorilla. So, just in time for the Blu-Ray and DVD release, here’s LoMo Dimples on Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
By LoMo Dimples
You call this a movie. I call it a prophecy. As such, I find it difficult to “review,” but I’ll do my best.
The special effects team behind “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” deserves an Oscar for its technological achievement. More than once, I found myself actually believing that I was watching an intelligent creature with thoughts and feelings of his own, capable of feeling love and rejection, and modifying his behavior accordingly. It was amazing.
I’m not talking about Caesar, the chimpanzee at the center of the story. I’m talking about James Franco, whose performance so often borders on “lifelike” that you have to remind yourself that he’s only acting smart as part of the magic of cinema.
Caesar, of course, is real. Well, real in the sense that the geniuses at WETA (the same team that did the effects for the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy and the most recent “King Kong” remake) took an idea, slapped a bunch of sensor pads on Andrew Serkis, and created a character more capable of expressing depth of feeling than half his human costars.
Fortunately, in a movie like this, the astonishing effects that bring Caesar and his simian companions to life do not distract from the story, because their life IS the story.
It would have been nice if the other humans showed the same depth of character.
Franco is hardly convincing as a scientist with a potential cure for Alzheimer’s Disease. The beautiful Freida Pinto plays a woman who becomes Franco’s girlfriend for absolutely no discernible reason. Brian Cox continues playing the same character he played in “X2: X-Men United.” Seriously, I don’t know how the makers of this movie got away with that, legally.
Cox is one of the most wasted actors working today. Do yourself a favor, buy or rent a movie called “Manhunter,” which came out a few years before “Silence of the Lambs.” In “Manhunter,” Cox plays a dangerous, psychopathic killer named Hannibal Lecktor. Yeah, same guy, a few years before Anthony Hopkins made the character famous. “Manhunter” was later remade, with Hopkins, as “Red Dragon.” If you watch the two movies back to back, I think you’ll get a sense why I admire Brian Cox so much as an actor. He’s pretty good.
For a human.
Three other humans play important roles in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Tom Felton, best known as Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter movies, plays Caesar’s sadistic jailer. David Oyelowo plays a character who may or may not remind you of the lawyer in the original “Jurassic Park.”
But the best human performance in the film comes from John Lithgow, who plays Franco’s Alzheimer’s-stricken father. Alone among the humans in the movie, Lithgow conveys, and evokes, genuine emotion.
There are nice little homages to the 1968 Charlton Heston movie that first brought the “Planet of the Apes” storyline to film. Near the end of “Rise,” when a character of few words speaks a short but powerful sentence about going home, I thought it was a nice, subtle tribute to the surprise ending of the first film.
This is a movie that exists for its final half hour, a well-executed action sequence that takes you from the inside of a cage to an overview of a falling world.
Well, falling from a human perspective.
From an ape’s point of view, it showed a promising future where progress is not only possible, but inevitable.
You have been warned.
Follow me on Twitter @LoMoDimples