I’m officially based out of San Diego now and Saturday morning I started the daunting task of unpacking everything I own. Which is a lot of crap. Ugh. But it’s awesome crap that I’m not willing to throw or give away so whatever. Thanks to my OCD and my constant pursuit of organizational perfection, it took me two days just to unpack the kitchen. As my friend Kate puts it, “I wish someone would give me a friggin’ chill pill.” After all that hard work I decided that I needed a reward (and a break) so I stumbled over to the movie theatre for some primate prequel goodness.
I try to be good but y’all know I give stuff away sometimes so here is my customary SPOILER ALERT!
I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The previews looked pretty good, if a little obviously CGI, and the music sounded fantastic…but hey, it’s the trailer, it’s all the best parts, right?
Well, let me tell you, it was actually super good. Like, amazingly good. Like, at least 10x better than I thought it was going to be. As a Navy family, we were stationed in Marin County when I was a kid and I went back to attend college in San Francisco. The movie takes place in and around the Bay Area and it definitely made me nostalgic for the fog and the giant redwoods. Hiking and hunting for Ewoks in Muir Woods has always been one of my favorite pastimes so I was thrilled to see so much of them in the movie.
But first things first. Freida Pinto is seriously the most gorgeous woman ever. It’s a little ridiculous how hot she is. And she has one of those faces that scream “kindness” so she’s totally believable as a vet at the San Francisco Zoo. Oh, and did I mention that she’s beautiful?
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to James Franco as Will Rodman, a genetic engineer who has formulated the cure for Alzheimer’s. Not because he wants to help humanity per se, although that’s certainly a positive side effect, but because his Father (John Lithgow) has the disease and he’s a total daddy’s boy. After his presentation to the board goes bust and the human trials get canceled, Will goes so far as to smuggle some of the drug, ALZ-112, out of the lab in order to experiment on his own Dad. It works brilliantly at first but it’s virus-based and eventually the antibodies grow strong enough to negate the benefits of the treatment. Bummer. Back to the drawing board. About 2 movie days later (or the equivalent of 10 years in the real world) Will comes up with ALZ-113, a new virus that must be inhaled instead of injected….seriously…never a good sign when something is airborne. I don’t want to give away what happens next for those who haven’t seen it but let’s just say that I’m very happy that zombies weren’t the result. I was worried for a while there.
Poor Andy Serkis. The guy has been typecast as the king of non-human CGI critters (Gollum, King Kong, etc). Half the time as an ape! But really, it’s because he’s brilliant. And he is. I just wish he’d get thrown some more roles that didn’t involve him wearing a leotard with a bunch of blinking lights attached to it. He brings amazing life to the chimpanzee Caesar. I don’t know if the special effects peeps can measure (or follow or whatever) what his eyes do but I’m thinking that they can. Caesar’s eyes were much too expressive to be completely manufactured. The CGI, by the by, was way better than the trailer made it out to be. In the very first scene of the movie I actually had a hard time figuring out if the chimps looking around were real or fake. With a name like Caesar there’s got to be some kind of sequel to the prequel. That name comes with a dramatic downfall attached to it thankyouverymuch.
The “bad guys” of the movie are another father-son duo, John Landon (the ageless Brian Cox…seriously, he looks the same as he did 20 years ago, I swear) and his son Dodge (Draco Malf…I mean…Tom Felton). Together they run the San Bruno Primate “Sanctuary”. Now, not to go all PETA on y’all but it WAS hard to watch the apes (CGI or no) getting mistreated and experimented on. Unlike some people, I don’t believe the
people behind the movie had any kind of political or animal rights agenda but I can see how it could be misconstrued that way. You’d have to be pretty heartless to not feel something when an animal is in pain. Humans on the other hand, well, whatever, who cares. I’ve been desensitized to violence against people since I was a kid.
So it wasn’t as hard to witness Dodge’s fate as it was to witness Buck’s, the big silverback gorilla. One thing Draco…I mean Dodge….does get is the iconic line from the original Planet of the Apes. I’ll give you a hint, it involves the adjectives “stinking” and “dirty.” I was also anxious to see the launch of Icarus and the loss of the three astronauts on board. Speaking of which, Charlton Heston isn’t completely absent, a clip from The Agony and the Ecstasy shows briefly on the break room television inside SBPS. Need a new drinking game? Every time you find a primate (or human) with a name paying homage to someone from the 1968 film, take a shot or chug a beer. You’ll be buzzed in no time. I spotted several but I’m not going to tell you what they are so that you can have fun finding them yourselves.
I’m evil like that.
Four out of Five Sci-Fives!