ANDERSON, Ind. —
THE GOOD,THE BAD AND THE UGLY: Much like its 2001 counterpart, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is full of groundbreaking special effects. And for the most part, the images generated by Peter Jackson’s WETA Digital look spectacular, especially on some of the secondary primate characters. Fur looks like fur, and movements are natural.
However, Caesar, the eventual leader of the ape rebellion, looks a little more like an animated chimp than the others. This is understandable given the range of emotions and actions he must convey and the amount of time he is on the screen.
The plot is clear and concise, and by the end of the film you’ll not only understand how the apes took over but not really feel that bad about it. The script does a surprisingly good job of humanizing the beasts and turning the humans into monsters.
It’s tough to gauge the performance of an actor when he doesn’t physically appear on screen and utters little. But Serkis deserves credit for bringing Caesar to life. He’s setting the bar very high for those that will inevitable follow him in these types of roles.
It’s easy to empathize with Will’s plight, and Franco makes it even easier. His performance is heartfelt and believable. There’s no trace of his goofier slacker roles here. He’s a caring son, willing to do anything to save his father.
Lithgow’s turn as the subject of Will’s devotion breaks the heart. Freida Pinto puts in a sweet performance as Will’s love interest. And Harry Potter fans will delight in Tom Felton (or Draco Malfoy to Potter fans) as Caesar’s antagonist, the cruel Dodge.
Fans of the original films may be unsettled by the stark contrast between the look of the old and new. But the spirit of the first franchise remains. And reminders of it are abundant.