Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray)
What in the world was Fox thinking by greenlighting a prequel to a film that’s over 43 years old? Well, apparently they knew there was more story to be told about the film that’s spawned four sequels and a remake/reboot by Tim Burton in 2001. Although I had never thought about it until I read RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was getting made, it’s true that we never really learn how the whole thing started. Well, if you ever wondered how the apes managed to take over the world, then you’re in luck, because Rise is a fun, exciting film that breathes life into a franchise that was previously dead.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist obsessed with finding a cure for Alzheimer, mainly because his father (John Lithgow) suffers from the debilitating disease and he wants to bring him back to his former self. He works for a genetic research company called Gen-sys and he’s testing his current drug on a handful of chimpanzees. When something goes wrong, the head of the company orders that all the chimps be put down. But Rodman ends up keeping a baby chimp whose mother was injected with the drug. At this point, you can probably guess where it’s going. The chimp grows up to be smart but eventually gets taken from Rodman and when forced to live with other chimps, he (known as Caesar), manages to steal the drug and give it to more chimps. I’ll tread lightly on plot points from this point, because the rest would be considered a spoiler.
What was surprising about the film is how much they made you care about Caesar. This is partly due to the acting of Andy Serkis and partly due to how carefully the story was set up. It was also surprising to see how unbiased the film was towards the eventual rise of the apes. I expected to come out of the theater hating the apes or hating the humans, but they managed to weave an intelligent story that although far-fetched, was actually believable.
Director Rupert Wyatt did fall victim to a few cliches, most notably the over the top villainy from the animal keeper Dodge (Tom Felton, who can’t seem to escape the overly evil roles) and the overly sentimental moments between Rodman and his father. But at the end of the day, this was about the apes and Wyatt managed to develop characters for some of the apes that rivaled their human counterparts. We cared about Caesar, but we also cared about the orangutan and the gorilla, just as we would about humans put in similar situations.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES didn’t tread any new ground, but for a prequel to a film that was released 43 years ago, it did quite well in reinvigorating the idea of apes taking over the planet. Although I’m surprised to say this myself, the ending left it open to tell even more stories before the original and if they’re as good as Rise, then I’ll be anxious to see them.
Video: This is one of the best transfers from Fox that I’ve ever seen. The video quality is pristine.
Audio: The audio was wonderful as well.
Commentaries with director Rupert Wyatt and writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver: These are split into two commentaries, one with the director and one with the writers, and both are mildly interesting. Wyatt focuses mainly on the making of topics while the writers tend to talk about the character development and story.
Deleted Scenes (12:00): None of these stood out as necessary to the film, but that could be because they weren’t “finished” and were mostly Andy Serkis in human form instead of ape-shape.
Mythology of the Apes (7:11): This is a series of interviews with the cast and crew about the film and how it ties into the original film.
Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries (8:43): This featurette focuses on the final showdown on the Golden Gate Bridge and how it all came together.
The Genius of Andy Serkis (7:48): This is pretty much an all out adoration-fest for Serkis’ performance in the film.
A New Generation of Apes (9:41): This talks about how Caesar and the other apes in the film were brought to life.
Scene Breakdown (1:34): This is a little feature that allows you to pick a scene and then watch it through the different stages of development.
Composing the Score with Patrick Doyle (8:07): Here the composer talks about how he wrote the score for the film.
The Great Apes (22:37): This is a three-part featurette that talks about each type of ape featured in the film as well as their natural habitats and diets. This was by far and away the most interesting of the features.
BD-Live Exclusive- Ape School (2:00): This is a little bit with the stunt coordinator who talks about how he trained the motion-capture actors to become ape-like on film.
Character Concept Art Gallery