Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The problem with prequels is that they fall into a trap of having to hit certain plot points that, if you've seen the movie(s) it's a prequel to, you already know are coming. This is one of the biggest problems with the Star Wars prequels. But, I can see how if you had seen them in chronological order, this may not bother you. Fortunately, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is not really a prequel, for several reasons. First, it's more of a reboot, since the events that happen in this film do not happen how they happened in the original movies. Second, the original movies did not start at the beginning, and really, as a whole, end up as a sort of time loop/alternate timeline story. The whole series is not so much about the what, as the how. Starting at the beginning, Rise of POTA, gives a new set of hows and whys to lead us into a slightly different set of whats.

The movie is close to being a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, the 4th movie in the original series, which also tells the story of an ape named Caesar who leads the ape uprising/revolution. This was always the film I wanted to like the most of the original series. The ideas of it, the concept, seeing how it all started, this was what a fan of the series craves. Unfortunately, Conquest falls short in many, many places. Fortunately, Rise does not fall short. The story of the ape revolution is finally told the right way.

The best thing about this movie, and something that was just not possible in the originals, is the apes themselves. Normally, I hate this much CG in movies, but here, not only are the apes convincing, but it allows for the story to clearly be about actual apes that behave like apes, instead of people dressed as apes. Seeing real chimps, gorillas and orangutans go through prison drama, organize, rebel, escape and rise up against man is exactly what I always wanted from an Apes movie. Although there are a couple of leaps to be made in believability, it's never outside the context of the movie. And as a bit of an ape behavior nut, I was glad to see they paid attention to the details of real ape communication. It blends well with the more humanized behavior.

I won't go into detail about all the little Easter eggs to be found. The very first scene, though, is right out of the first movie and there are several nods along the way. By the end, the sequel possibilities are endless. It's a whole new Planet of the Apes, with many of the familiar concepts set up. It's going to be interesting to see which way the sequels will go, and there will be sequels. There better be, because as of now, this was my favorite movie of the year, by far.

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