Friday, September 21, 2012

Film Friday: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

When you remake a movie, there will always be a certain amount of predictability. A remake of Planet of the Apes, for example, will not involve the humans winning or killer sharks. It will essentially follow the apocalyptic storyline. But that doesn’t excuse a film being so utterly predictable that only an idiot wouldn’t know what is about to happen in each scene.

** spoiler alert **

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a reboot of Planet of the Apes, only it follows elements of the storyline from the awful Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. In Rise, a young scientist, whose name escapes me, invents a virus which he thinks will cure Alzheimer’s. He tests this on monkeys and discovers that it makes them intelligent. He tells his boss, whose name also escapes me, who is a typical biotech CEO. He wants the project stopped when it looks like it will help people and then wants it rushed ahead when it might hurt people, all without proper testing and all while mumbling something incoherent about “profit.” Pretty standard really. The scientist gets a girlfriend at some point, whose name escapes me (in fairness, I watched the film all of 20 minutes ago, so it’s been a long time to remember these kinds of details).
Scientist-boy’s ape becomes really smart and attacks Dr. Rodney McKay from Stargate Atlantis, who seems kind of grumpy now that Stargate Atlantis has been cancelled. So the ape goes to ape prison where he gets sodomized. That’s pretty much the last thing I remember before the CGI kicks in. Suffice it to say that the ape uses magic to get more of the virus and then he and his 50 buddies overcome the entire police department of San Francisco without taking a casualty, killing all the right people in the process.

In a word, this film sucked. I know it made a bunch of money, but people who paid to see this were idiots. This is a film with no redeeming qualities. The characters are too one dimensional to be called cardboard. The special effects are cartoony, despite what people say. The characters’ actions are ridiculous. But the real killer here is predictability. I cannot recall a more predictable movie than this. . . scene by scene by scene.
From the very beginning, this film is exactly what you expect. There are no surprises in the order of events. You know he will test the vaccine, it will fail. He will take it home and try it in a moment of desperation on his sick father. It will appear to work, but then things will go wrong. You can set your watch by it. There are no surprises in terms of characters. The scientist will have a sick father who needs the vaccine. The corporate CEO will order the virus used before it is safe. The cruel kids will abuse the apes. Etc. The characters respond in each scene exactly as you would expect. In fact, this is where things really go wrong. To give you a sense, consider the scene where scientist-boy gets the girlfriend. He walks into the veterinarian’s office with his ape. She’s cute. She’s also the only XX Chromosome person in the film. You know the moment you see her what will happen. The ape will do something “cute,” which will cause scientist-boy to “shyly” ask the hot chick out. She will agree and I will slam my forehead. And that is exactly what happens and the order in which it happens. This is the problem throughout this film, there isn’t a single scene that you can’t outline from start to finish before it happens. THIS IS DULL!

And this isn’t to downplay the other problems. The actions of the CEO make no sense. Scientist-boy’s life and job make no sense – he has one of those jobs where he has free access to a truly high tech lab but no apparent responsibilities except when the dialog calls for a moment of tension with the CEO. The cops make no sense. Does anyone really think the well-armed police, including their SWAT team, can’t gun down fifty apes? These couldn’t. They shot their bullets at anything except the apes and then decided to switch to clubs. . . against 500 pound gorillas. . . for no apparent reason.
The special effects were another problem, and I think this problem actually highlights the flaw with all the thinking in this film: every effect was perfectly symmetrical. Anything the lead ape did, all the other apes did simultaneously. When the lead ape jumps out of an office building, shattering the window, another ape immediately follows with another window. Then another. And as the camera moves down the length of the building, window after window is shattered by identical looking apes making the identical jumps. . . one at a time, each in a separate window. When one ape climbs up a cable on the Golden Gate Bridge, identical apes follow immediately on all the other cables. And in the end, when the head ape is shown climbing to the top of a tree and standing on a branch near the top, steadying himself by holding the branch above as he looks longingly over San Francisco in the distance (for whatever reason), the camera pans back and with each passing tree we see another ape in the identical pose, in the identical kind of tree, on the identical branch, looking longingly at San Francisco. This is paint by numbers. This is creativity faked by people who are not creative. And that is what happens throughout this entire film. This is a film made by people with no eye or ear for storytelling who assumed they could assemble this film based purely on a formula.

This movie has no heart and it has no brain and I will not be at all surprised if it ultimately has no legs.

105 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

I will be out until around noon today, then I'll be back for good. :) I'll respond to comments then... and you will comment. I know where ALL of you live. Grrr.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

So.........you loved it? ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Totally Joel. I've never loved a movie more than this. LOL!

Actually, I struggled to finish it. I could actually feel myself wasting the minutes of my life.

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

That is the exact same feeling I get when I hear Obama speak. Droning, droning, droning, then a rise, then a fall, then something that the audience laughs at, but I didn't get. Just a wasting away of the minutes of my life.

K said...

So I assume after the movie the apes form an army and use gorilla warfare to take over the world?

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, That describes this film perfectly! And I get the same feeling from Obama... just noise and then minutes ticking off the clock of life.

AndrewPrice said...

K, If I could give you the lonely trombone noise, I would. LOL!

Actually, the apes are peaceful (or so we're told) despite the murders and mayhem they cause. They just want to live in the CGI forest and be left alone. It's the evil humans who are violent, but they will all die from a virus that spreads in a scene that feels totally ripped off from Twelve Monkeys.

Presumably, the apes will form an army later, once they establish a tax base.

K said...

So instead of nuclear war killing off the hateful human race, it's capitalism and Big Pharma.

Check.

shawn said...

Well, I liked the effects, but as you said, the rest was perdictable and not very well thought out.

Tennessee Jed said...

not having seen this reboot, I surely can't quibble with any of your analysis. It does make me think about the notion of re-makes and re-boots in general though. I think as adults we have a different perspective on most of these. Time tends to compress as we age, and certainly we have an awareness of a greater time span. When you are young, whether it is a re-make of a popular song or a film, you are often not even aware that the subject is a "re-boot" to begin with. I suppose the idea has been to introduce a new generation to a worthwhile story with new technology and current stars.

The problem, it seems to me, is that the time is constantly compressed between the original and the re-make. As a kid of 11, I was blown away by the film Ben-Hur when it was released. Not until I bought the souvenir program book did I realize it had been made not once, but twice before. Today, we have streaming, DVD, etc. And that is not even touching on the fact that the "Planet of the Apes" seems to have been milked for about eleventy billion sequels before the "re-make."

I guess my point is, it seems like everything is rushed today. Forgetting the politics of it, 50 years ago, I doubt there would be a film about the killing of Bin Laden or the collapse of Wall Street until more time has passed. None of this changes the fact this film probably sucks for the reasons you mention. But I do get why todays youngsters may not dislike it quite so much.

DUQ said...

I didn't finish. I didn't see anything in this film which made me want to finish. Honestly, there was nothing about it that kept my interest.

DUQ said...

Jed, That's a good point. Look at how quickly they are rebooting Spiderman? Huh!? But I think the problem here isn't the reboot, it's what Andrew mentions, this film just stunk. There wasn't any part of the film where you didn't know what would happen. If they shows you the opening of the scene and then stopped the film and asked you to tell them what happens next, you could have guessed 95-99% of this film, it was that obvious.

ScottDS said...

Re: the film being a reboot/sequel/whatever, I actually didn't have a problem with that aspect of it, especially since this film is lightyears ahead of Tim Burton's 2001 "re-imagining" of the original, which was just awful and the only Burton movie I actively dislike.

One thing I did like about this film was the "when is the other shoe going to drop?" aspect of it. I usually don't enjoy movies where I'm stuck guessing when things will turn to shit but it worked for me in this one. Part of the enjoyment (such as it was) for me was seeing just how things would go bad in this one. And in that regard, it's quite like Conquest of the Planet of the Apes - Andrew, you'll have to explain why you don't like that film. I thought it was the best of the original sequels!

Re: capitalism and big pharma bringing about the end of the world... I suppose it's there but it's not the point of the film. I've had this conversation with Andrew: sometimes a film's politics are in your face, other times they're simply a means to an end and/or usually a sign of lazy writing. This film is an example of the latter.

ScottDS said...

Jed -

You're correct about time being compressed. Hell, they're already talking about rebooting Batman again in a few years!

Not to mention, today we have the Internet, streaming, etc. Not only can someone find out if Movie X is a remake, they can watch the original at the touch of a button. An 11-year old today would have no problem finding the original Apes film to watch, yet when you were 11, you had no idea Ben-Hur had been made not once, but twice before.

Sadly, this generation seems to have an antipathy towards older works of art and entertainment, hence the studios' MO of remaking seemingly everything. I have an interesting link about young people and their lack of appreciation for older films in my next link page - check it out next Wednesday!

ScottDS said...

shawn and Andrew -

Re: the FX, I actually had an epiphany while watching this film. The CGI apes were, for the most part, fine. However, one reason why we complain about obvious CGI is because it doesn't blend in with the surrounding live-action footage.

And why doesn't it blend in? Could be a variety of reasons, but in this film there was one shot that just screamed "FX shot!" There's a shot of a bunch of apes in that big sanctuary. In one expansive shot, the "virtual camera" literally pans, tilts, zooms, and dollies all over the place - the CGI apes are fine but the shot itself doesn't blend in at all. It's like the FX people wanted to show off their toys, or rather, the studio wanted to show off their toy.

If you want to make an FX shot blend in, even if it's a CGI ape, the camerawork shouldn't look like it came out of a completely different film!

Outlaw13 said...

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day. Fritter and waste the hours in a offhand way.

I had absolutely no interest in see this film after I saw the previews. I saw the re-make of Planet of the Apes and wanted to go on my own ape fueled rampage, so I had no interest in re-visiting that.

What is it about filmmakers that they can't leave that Rod Serling moment alone at the end of the original when the truth was revealed?

Individualist said...

Andrew

One of the problems in the film that I noticed about these remakes is that they take something people liked in the original and overdid it.

The scene where the doctor tells Quaid that it is all an implanted dream in his mind in Total Recall is a good example. In the remake they had this in a scene where thousands of cops were outside and the chase after was immediate. The scene was notably worse.

I beleive in the original Planet of the Apes where Caesar becomes aware he does not speak until the end of the film and it becomes a huge moment. If I remembber correctly all of the apes are communicating in this remake early on so you lose the effect of that moment. Hollywood is losing the art of minimalism.

tryanmax said...

I enjoyed this movie, but found it ultimately forgettable. It didn't show me anything new or profound. A problem that often occurs with films like this, where the ending is foretold in the title, is that the writers simply take you from point A to point B without putting anything intriguing in the middle. They forget the old adage that it's not the destination, it's the journey. So the whole film moves like it's eyes are locked on the end credits with no time taken to view the passing landscape.

The foreknowledge that the apes will win should have been treated as a background event with something else at stake besides. Instead, it was made the primary story-arc and, as such, it could hold no tension.

And I know what I'm asking isn't impossible. We see it every week over-and-over on television when our favorite characters win for the umpteenth time yet we still lean off the edge of our seats wondering just how they're going to do it. And it's because there is always something more at stake than winning. Usually, they have to win a certain way, or the outcome is no good.

This may be why television outshines cinema these days. Cinema writers don't seem to consider that there are right ways and wrong ways for their characters to come out on top, they simply worry about them getting there. In other words, cinema has become more utilitarian while TV is more deontological. (On the whole.)

Doc Whoa said...

K, It was big biotech and capitalism. As Andrew says, the director didn't want this drug when it looked like it would help people. But then the scientist said he had turned into an untested virus which could be dangerous to humans, then he rushed it into use.

Doc Whoa said...

Andrew, I felt the same thing. Everything about this film was so totally angular. Everything that happened felt like it was part of a pattern or computer program, nothing felt organic.

ScyFyterry said...

I expected nothing and was please that it was a little more than nothing. Not much, but a little. I think trynamax is right about there being no intrigue in the middle. The film just happened step by step to the ending you knew was coming.

ScottDS said...

Indi -

Interesting comment about minimalism. And I agree, they seem to take something that made the original unique, and then they do nothing but that thing for the remake, but the new film needs to have its own unique angle or POV and that rarely happens.

And then you have fans of the original who complain: a.) that their favorite film is being remade, or b.) that they're changing something for the remake, even though that change might make the remake better in its own way.

It's a lose-lose sometimes. :-)

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

Maybe it's because I've seen enough movies that this stuff seeps in, but it's gotten to the point where I can watch a big summer blockbuster and I see the gears turning - for instance, I can tell when Act 1 is about to end and I can tell when we're at our darkest moment near the end of Act 2. A lot of films really do have this "autopilot" quality about them, like Final Draft has a "summer blockbuster" writing template as part of its program.

As far as there being something else at stake, I just watched an online review of a rather infamous pirate movie where all that was at stake was the treasure. The reviewer made a good point that, in any good pirate movie, there's always something else at stake other than the treasure.

tryanmax said...

Scott, I think that any good story has to be moving toward two ends, not just one. The first is what must happen, that is, the inevitable conclusion. The second is what the characters (and hopefully the audience) wants to happen, that is, something completely optional but would make us all happier if it did. The greater the distance between the first and the second at the beginning of the script, the greater the tension and the greater the reward when the two are brought into some kind of alignment.

tryanmax said...

And relating that to Rise, much of the problem seems to be that the main character only wants whatever his monkey wants, so there is no tension.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm back folks! K, Actually, in this case, it was the scientist who killed us because the guy spreading it was the one who got bitten by Cesar early in the movie.

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, On an individual basis, the effects were fine. In other words, each monkey looked good. Each individual action looked good. The problem was the combination of all those moments which ended up looking geometrical and symmetrical and, therefore, completely unnatural.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I don't have a problem with reboots. I'm not nostalgic in that sense that I don't want to see a good movie "ruined" or anything like that. What does bother me, however, are bad remakes. And this was a bad remake. This was just a lifeless, uninteresting film which could have been written by a computer rather than a human being.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, That really was the problem. As each scene opened, they showed you all the parts they would use and you know this film would not diverge at all from the standard formula for those scenes. Thus, when you see the first female character, and she's cute, and the ape and the hero, you not only know there will be a hookup, but that the ape will cause it by being cute.

When you see teenagers coming where the apes are housed behind bars, you know the teens will abuse the apes and inadvertently let them out. Etc.

There isn't a single scene that doesn't play out exactly as expected.

Tennessee Jed said...

DUQ, Scott and Andrew - I don't disagree with what you all have said. I simply latched onto the larger question since I couldn't specifically comment on this particular one. And as folks point out, it does seem a little as if the time frame for re-makes keeps shrinking. That may be just another side of the lazy business suits holding sway over the creative types.

To me, if a story or film is good enough to be re-made, then the basic question that has to be answered is "what does this version bring to the table that justifies a re-make?" It may better special effects, a fresh point of view, and getting a new generation interested in a worthwhile story. A great example to me might be "The Count of Monte Cristo" starring Jim Caviezel. Now without scooting over to Imdb, I couldn't tell you how many prior versions were made. Now as you point out, it could have sucked, and luckily, it didn't. What it brought to the table was fresh modern top notch actors and great sets, and cinematography. The story, a classic, takes care of itself.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I don't have a problem with this being a reboot. Like I said, the inherent problem with reboots is the predictability of the ultimate plot, but that's not a problem if you do the well. The problem here was that they didn't do the rest the right way. The rest was just horrible predictable and uninteresting.

On the politics, I don't think this was a film with a political bent. I think they used Big Pharma because it made sense -- who else would create a virus? But even then, it wasn't actually the company which caused it, though the film implies that's the case for some reason. The real cause is the good guy scientist who treats his chimp and father with these virus well outside of scientific protocols.

Maybe at some point, we should do an Apes series or retrospective?

AndrewPrice said...

Scott and Jed, Honestly, I think reboots make a lot of sense. For one thing, you have a built in audience already, so why not exploit them. For another, you're not as stuck as you are with a straight remake -- those get lame fast. And it gives you a chance to create a multi-generational audience, which means LONG term sales.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, On the FX, that link you gave us last week, which we really do need to distill down into an article, made the very point that when they try too much and the camera itself begins to behave in an unreal way, it all screams "EFFECTS!!" And to me, this movie screamed effects throughout. I liked the individual apes, but once they started doing things with them, it all became fake because they never let them act naturally as a group and they didn't fit them into the world so much as they moved them from effects shot to effects shot. The shot of them all jumping through separate windows is the perfect example. Not only is that no animal behavior, but it means they literally spread out to every office and ever floor of the building to make these perfectly timed jumps. It screams EFFECTS!!!

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, Excellent Floyd reference! Bonus points! :)

I think there is a need to tinker to make each remake "special" whereas they should be focusing on making it better.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, They try to make the moment he speaks special by having him scream "NO!" in the ear of the shocked scientist. BUT he's already shown an ability to sign language almost anything and he's obviously getting smarter throughout because of the virus, so there's no reason for the scientist to be as shocked. Moreover, even though the other apes are stupid (until they get the insta-brains virus), and even though he's never been around real apes his entire life, he somehow is able to communicate with them completely and the audience gets to read those communications... so there just is no punch when he finally speaks.

DUQ said...

Jed, I think so. It seems they are no rebooting properties after every 3 films.

Individualist said...

Scott

Another thinbg that they do is take something from the original film and force it into the remake because everyone liked it.

Total Recall (this was an example of what not to do with a reboot remake of a film) included the three breasted girl as an afterthought.

Problem was the remake was not on mars, did not have mutants and the scene really did not make sense. nor was there ever any explanation as to why this girl was the way she was... no talk of gene modification etc. Just threw it in cause they did it last time. So to me the scene was rather lame.

I think if you are going to do a remake you have to tear down the script and create an outline of the basics and then rewrite that script as if the old one did not exist from your outline.

If you do that you won't overdo things or throw in things that make no sense to the story as you are now telling it.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, Outland and others, talking about trailers that turn you off. Has anyone seen the trailer for "Loopers"? What a stupid concept. So when the mob wants to kill someone, they send them back in time to Iowa where someone kills them? Why? How hard is it to just put a bullet in their heads and leave them on the street? Why do the Rube Goldberg version of killing?

That strikes me as a trailer which won't intrigue people, but will instead turn them off because it makes the film sound silly rahter than interesting.

whitsbrain said...

I haven't posted here much but I'm going to put myself out there...I like this movie.

I just finished watching all of the original "Planet of the Apes" series of movies. They are generally considered hit and miss in quality with the orignal "Planet..." being considered a classic, and it is.

But "Rise..." is well-paced and the the CGI apes are well done for the most part, primarily when interacting with humans. When they are together in packs or communicating without human interaction, the effects seem a little cartoonish. The final showdown between the San Fransicisco Police and the rampaging apes is pretty amazing and is an entertaining sequence. I especially liked watching the powerful gorilla, I think his name is "Buck". He steals the sequence.

The ending is satisfying and the cut scene in the final credits incorporates an actual continuation of the story and brings some clarity to how the apes managed to take over the Earth. This vaguely dovetails "Rise..." into the 1968 "Planet of the Apes" film.

Maybe I was in the right mood but I've seen this twice and both times I came away liking what I had just watched. I will agree that some of the things the characters did made me scratch my head but I didn't think it was overly political. In other words, I came away from this with my capitalist-pig fully intact.

Like I said, I just watched all of the movies in the original series and "Rise..." is just as entertaining as any of them (outside of the original). And if you want dull, feast your eyes on "Battle For the Planet of the Apes", which is one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Excellent points. I think you are right that when the ultimate result is known, it's best to treat that as a subplot or some bit of background for the real focus of the story. It doesn't make sense to focus the story entirely on something the audience knows will happen.

One thing I will say about television though, especially good television like Boardwalk Empire is that while you know in the end the hero won't die, you have no idea how anything else will turn out. Television is excellent at giving you just enough unexpected results to keep you in doubt that things will ever work out for the hero. Too many films are simply too straight up.

And I agree there was nothing intriguing in the journey in this film, and that was the problem. Everything you saw was obviously going to happen just like you saw it. There wasn't a surprising moment.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, Biotech and Pharma are the same beast. But in truth, I think the politics here are a red herring, it's just to give the plot another villain we can enjoy the apes killing. The virus actually comes from the ape (who was supposed to be killed by the scientists but was saved by Dr. Dogooder) biting Rodney McKay.

AndrewPrice said...

whitsbrain, You are banned! Just kidding, disagreement is totally fine around here.

By comparison to all the Apes films, I would agree that this is one of the better ones. But I still just didn't find it to be a good movie. I think in particular it lacked the punch of the first two Apes films, but it was better than the rest which I thought were getting to the point of being nearly unwatchable.

Maybe we will need to do an Apes retrospective?

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, Not being "organic" is a good way to put it. It's like when things appear to perfect on screen -- cards fall off a table into a pattern, cars are parked exactly the same distance apart, all the apes do the same motions like a synchronized monkey-bars team. Etc. Nature is imperfect, but too often filmmakers reach for their obsessive compulsive inner child and try to make everything perfect. That's a mistake.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, You've set a low bar, but I guess it worked! LOL!

LawHawkRFD said...

I enjoyed the movie the first time I saw it. It was just OK, but I liked the CGI. It came on last week on HBO's free trial on DirecTV, so what the heck, I watched it again. All the flaws you mentioned became immediately apparent. It's fine for one viewing, but it doesn't stand up the next time.

LawHawkRFD said...

PS: For those of us who lived and worked in San Francisco, the idea of apes taking over the Golden Gate Bridge and stalling traffic is nothing new. LOL

AndrewPrice said...

Scott and Indi, I agree, a lot of remakes (like Burton's) seem to be set ups just to get to that moment and then show off how they tried to make it even more impressive than the original. And that's very bad storytelling. Moreover, what makes a lot of these moments so iconic in the first place is the minimalism of them. When Heston sees the Statue of Liberty, he just falls to his knees and curses. This is a powerful moment because you understand there are no words to convey what this means. But when you remake a moment like that and you try to top it by adding flashing lights and a thousand dancing apes in the background, you turn a shock into a circus and that robs it of its impact.

It's the same way the best car chases are still old ones like Bullit because it was minimal and it had to sell you on the realism. They did nothing you haven't felt in your own car at some point and that put you into that car, feeling how close they were to losing control at any moment. Today they try to make it grandiose with things blowing up and people dodging out of the way and dozens of cars being involved. And while those can be spectacles, they are never tense or gripping or iconic.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Cutthroat Island?

I agree that something else always needs to be as stake in films than the McGuffin, but Hollywood often doesn't get that -- especially in summer films.

In terms of spotting the film moments, that's because these things are so heavily reliant on formulas these days. If you watch enough of any genre, you will be able to write down the moments within a few minutes) when certain things will always happen even without seeing the film in question.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Yeah, that was the review. I've mentioned the Nostalgia Critic before. Well, he has an accomplice, the Nostalgia Chick who also reviews bad films. (Oh, and I love her.) :-)

A great example of internal and external plots is Back to the Future. Marty has to get his parents together and get back to 1985, but in doing so, he also helps his father become a better man.

And yes, I think we do need to do an Apes retrospective one day. And I agree - that FX discussion needs to be distilled down for an article here. Meanwhile, I'm currently working on my next review - no apes... just bats, cats, and penguins.

tryanmax said...

Another thought: Rise isn't really sure who its hero is. By most objective standards, Caesar is a villain. So is Dr. Franco (ha!) because he is an obvious (to everyone but his employer) loose cannon. And, of course, Big Pharma and the monkey house are default villains. There's no one to root for in this film.

tryanmax said...

"no apes... just bats, cats, and penguins."

My response: "Squee!"

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I agree entirely. Few films can succeed with just one plot thread. They need multiple goals to keep the audience involved with the story. And those goals need to conflict in some manner so it seems like you can't achieve each of your goals. That is what creates drama. Otherwise, you just get some characters doing stuff.

And in this case, you have the plot points needed to establish the franchise of the apes taking over... and little else. There are no conflicting goals or secondary plots that struggle against the main point to the film.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I don't disagree with you at all. I think since the popularization of the reboot, they've started rebooting franchises much, much quicker. They aren't quite at the pace of sequels yet, but they are getting close.

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, Interesting point! That may well be the formula now -- three films (original plus two sequels) followed by a reboot instead of a fourth.

ScottDS said...

tryanmax -

I rarely, if ever, spoil my reviews. You'll just have to wait another month or so. :-)

In the meantime, I have another review which will be appearing before that one.

AndrewPrice said...

Indi, I notice that a lot. I particularly notice it in these supposed "homage" moments where they force key moments from the original into reboots whether or not they fit. It's like they come up with a list of things they need to include and when the film is written, they just spread these items throughout the plot every so often so the audience says, "hey, I remember that!" without any regard to whether or not they fit at that particular moment.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I would imagine a second viewing would be rather difficult.

Regarding San Francisco, I always thought SF would be taken over by walruses!

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Lions and tigers and penguins! Oh my!

Back to the Future is a fantastic movie in that regard because there are so many subplots and they all interweave and they all conflict. Don't forget, he also needs to save the Doc, all while getting himself back to the future.

Yeah, I guess we should do an Apes retrospective.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, The film seems conflicted about who its hero is. It treats the scientist as the hero, but he is a loose cannon who causes all the problems. Plus, he's ultimately too passive to be the film's hero... he just kind of moves around as others battle it out. But he's presented as "nice" and I think that is supposed to make him the hero.

Cesar is presented as the hero at times, but a villain at others. I think they try to make him more heroic by suddenly making him non-violent toward the end (or at least, non-murderous). But it doesn't fit with the first half of the story where he seems to prepare the apes to commit violence and then kills a couple people.

The cops are villains, the company is a villain, the neighbor (Rodney McKay) is a villain, the kids torture the apes are villains, the boss is a villain, etc. Basically, everyone is a villain in this, both humans and apes.

shawn said...

As I understand it, Sam Raimi had started preliminary work on Spider-Man 4, but walked away from the film when Sony pushed the timetable up on it's release date. Since the writer/director was gone, Sony turned it into a re-boot. Also, Sony wanted it out quickly so they wouldn't lose the film rights.

T-Rav said...

Wow, good thing I never got around to writing the review on this myself, because I kinda liked this movie. In general, I agree with Scott's counterpoints earlier, and I suspect the real reason you don't like the movie is because Caesar was played by Andy Serkis. ;-)

EricP said...

Dissenting opinion apparently, but as someone who loves every one of the original Apes movies (less so Beneath, but even the clunky Conquest) and loathes the Burton travesty, I dug Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Admittedly better as a theatre experience, where I saw it twice, but appreciated the subtle (and not-so-subtle) nods to the original as well as the sequel set-up over the end credits.

Outlaw13 said...

I know this was mentioned the other day but it should be repeated early and often: "I hate every ape I see from chimp-an-A to chimp-an-Z!"

EricP said...

It's the part you were born to post, Outlaw13, as often as possible ... fish-lover!!!

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, That was my understanding too, but I still think it will set a precedent. And even apart from Spiderman, a lot of other properties are being rebooted a lot quicker these days.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Yes, I hate Andy Serkis. LOL! Actually, I have no idea why you would think that?

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I loved a couple of the original Ape movies, but not all of them... though I typically do watch them all when they are on television.

I have zero love for the Burton version. This one blew that one away at least.

AndrewPrice said...

Well played Outlaw! LOL!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, to be fair, a home video of me puking in the toilet could blow away the Burton movie. At least there's a plot (sort of).

tryanmax said...

I'm just curious... Remember when RotPotA first came out and the reviewers on Big Hollywood were comparing the chimp Caesar to Che Guevara? I personally never though much of those comparisons, but I thought I would see what other people though.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That is true. LOL!

T-Rav said...

Now to expand on my earlier comment, or at least to pick at some of your criticisms:

I don't think it's actually very ambiguous whether Caesar is a hero or a villain. Consider the moments of violence we see from him--first, when he sees some guy assaulting Dr. Franco's Alzheimer's-ridden father; second, when he accidentally electrocutes Drake Malfoy, who's been tormenting him; third, when his gorilla friend dies and he's mad at the CEO guy in the helicopter for indirectly causing it. And that's not really violence from him, it's more like he's consenting to have the guy killed. I don't think this is very ambiguous.

Also, it was to Drake Malfoy that he shouted "NO!", not Rodman or another scientist. And this is just some sadistic loser performing menial tasks, so of course he'd be surprised by it. Caesar does speak to Rodman at the end, but his reaction is brief surprise, not heart-stopping shock.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I see no politics in this film at all. I see no attempt to make any sort of political statement or compare the characters to any famous people. So I would say people read a LOT into the film to get that comparison.

I think this is a typical modern blockbuster where they yanked out anything that would give the film any meaning that could offend people. There isn't even an animal rights message, which would be the obvious choice.

Heck, they even ripped out the evolution and anti-nuclear messages from the original.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, I sort of remember someone comparing him to Che, but I think National Review (they have film reviewers there, believe it or not) said he was more like George Washington. Logic was, he was fighting against oppression, but wasn't getting off on violence and all.

tryanmax said...

T-Rav, good point, I can't disagree. If anything, maybe this movie played up the flawed hero too much in Caesar when what he needed to be to make the movie work is a more straightforwardly virtuous hero.

T-Rav said...

tryanmax, very true. Maybe the movie would have been better if it had tried for a specific theme or something.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, True. BUT they do try to present the apes as nonviolent toward the end of the film and that strikes me as a fake addition, given that they have killed people at that point in other than self-defense.

The Malfoy character kind of ticked me off because he was so caricature. There wasn't even an attempt to give him even a tiny bit of originality.

True, he shouts NO to Malfoy first, but I think the point is more that it's not surprising to the audience than it is or isn't surprising to the characters. It doesn't quite have the shock effect it should for the audience to suddenly see an ape being capable of speech because he's been "talking" throughout the film. It would be like having a character hover above their floor throughout the film and then hoping the audience is awed when he flies toward the end of the film.

AndrewPrice said...

George Washington? Give me a break. Cesar had ZERO personality. He's so bland as a character he's see-through!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax and T-Rav, I think this film would have been better if they'd given him any sort of motivation or personality. He doesn't even seem to be interested in freeing "his people" until a group of kids hassle him. He's totally a passive, responsive hero... which is the new version of "hero" in Hollywood. Blech.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, that's a fair point. I was mainly pointing out that so far as the characters were concerned, it made more sense, as it wasn't actually to one of the scientists, which is what I thought you were saying earlier.

I can't agree that Caesar is a bland, passive hero, though. It's made clear that for the first few years of his life, the Rodman home and the occasional visit to the woods are basically all he knows of the world. Then he starts asking questions about where he came from and all, and doesn't seem overly pleased by the answers; then he gets thrown in the pound or whatever, is exposed to real oppression, and decides to do something about it. I don't see what's passive about that.

tryanmax said...

I will give Caesar credit for being more aggressive than, say, the main dude for the Clash of the Titans remake, but he's still a reactionary. He basically goes straight from being happy with his life to being a revolutionary against the status quo. The only indications that he has any reservations whatsoever come in the form of expository dialogue. "I'm sorry it has to be this way but no, I'm not."

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, That's true about the characters. It makes a lot of sense that Malfoy would be freaked out by a talking ape, the scientist not so much. To me though, the issue was the lack of punch to the audience (sorry if I wasn't clear).

You're right that Cesar isn't a completely passive/reactive hero... like Perseus in the new Clash of the Titans. When Cesar gets started, he certainly leads his team in a proactive and planned manner, freeing them, getting the virus, turning them into super-apes, and then turning them into a murderous army while cleverly putting out pacifistic literature. ;)

I do see him as passive though in the sense that this film isn't about some scheme that he's come up with. Instead, he's just responding to the way he's being treated. When I compare that to a George Washington, for example, I see a man who acted much more on principle rather than reacting to momentary stimuli. That's the sense in which I see him as passive... e.g. if the kids hadn't come after him, there would have been no ape rebellion.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, How funny is that! We both just mentioned Perseus as a passive "hero." Great minds! :)

tryanmax said...

Andrew, Indeed! *twirls mustache*

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Exactly! We're like evil twins! Mwhoo ha ha!

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I sense sarcasm.

No, that's certainly true, but I don't feel that that's really important. A lot of stories have the hero responding to circumstances; that in itself doesn't make them bad stories. I'm not saying the movie was perfect by any means, there were parts where it did feel a little too put-together or predictable or whatever. But it was better than it might have been, and better than I expected it to be going in. (Yes, I'm one of the idiots who paid to watch.) :-p

On a related note, I saw part of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which this apparently is based on, the other day. What a bunch of @#$%ing crap that was!

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I can't imagine why you would sense sarcasm? ;)

It was better than it could have been, that's true... but not by enough!

Yeah, I find Conquest to be horrible. Scott apparently disagrees though and has hired a hit man to change my mind. We'll see.

ScottDS said...

I can't afford a hit man with my "salary." :-)

I had no idea Conquest was so disliked by some people. (We're talking about the fourth film, right?)

I was under the impression it was considered one of the better sequels, if not the best one. Keep in mind there are two versions of the film: the theatrical version with a somewhat happy ending, and an extended cut (that they unearthed for the Blu-Ray) with a downer ending.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Yes, the fourth -- with Khaaaaaan as the circus owner: LINK. It's the one that happened in 1991, when the apes start a war against humanity.

There's really just nothing I like about this film. It makes no sense that there would be apes everywhere, even if other pets died mysteriously. I don't know how in the world they got these basically intelligent apes to appear suddenly (never explained). And the whole Apes out of what plot with Roddy McDowell just didn't work for me. That said, it's certainly nowhere near as awful as the horrid Battle For the Planet of the Apes which blew its budget by renting a school bus.

ScottDS said...

I watched all the Apes films for the first time when I bought the Blu-Ray set a few years ago. (Yeah, I bought it blind.) I liked this one a lot... like I said above, I usually don't like films where something bad is going to happen and that it's only a matter of when... but this one worked for me. I'm also a sucker for stories about dystopias so on that level, it definitely appealed to me.

As far as the wiping out of pets and humans' use of apes as servants, it's just one of those things you can either accept or not. If you accept it, great. If not, then the film can't work.

P.S. About that, uh, e-mail I sent earlier, I posted a somewhat nicer version of it elsewhere. We'll see what kind of reaction it gets. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I can't disagree because these films are largely a matter of taste. They aren't horribly flawed or inane (except the fifth) so it really is a matter of taste. I didn't like it, but your mileage may vary. :)

I nicer version? Less cussing, fewer death threats? ;)

T-Rav said...

What is this email you speak of? Has someone been sending death threats? Because if it's regarding me, you tell Big Tony the deal was for 15%, not--er, back up. So there's an email going around?

tryanmax said...

First of all, T-Rav, I assume "@#$%ing" stands for "steaming"? Steaming crap.

Second, Andrew, Scott, hit men don't generally change minds. They open them, if you get my drift. Okay, moving on.

So, how many Apes films are there? I'm definitely out on this convo. I do wish to chime in my agreement with the earlier consensus that the Burton remake was crap. Put Helena Bonham Carter in a monkey mask and it's all downhill from there.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, There were five films, then a television show, then the Burton remake and now this one. So 7 films and one television show.

And I took took @#$%ing to mean "steaming." Or yachting.... wasn't sure.

I've never actually had a hit man find me, so I can't tell you how reasonable they are. I guess when Scott gets a better job, we'll find out. :)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Scott likes to spam me with consumer complaints he makes about places like Commentarama.

ScottDS said...

T-Rav -

No death threats! I simply read an article earlier today and felt the need to vent. Nothing to see here... move along.

Complaints about the site? Perish the thought! I think we all know I'm constantly suggesting cool new things we can do. (Now if we can figure out how to monetize it.) :-D

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think we monetize the site by selling our blood plasma. ;)

Cheetah said...

Ummmm....you guys seem to have forgotten that most famous of Ape-run worlds headed up by "Lance....Lancelot Link!"

Amateurs..........

PikeBishop said...

Andrew: "Conquest" was not that bad. They were given a lower budget and made good use of it, especially shooting at the Century City complex in LA. They also made do with a lot fewer extras than they should have cast un order to convey the epic scale. What sucks was the stupid tacked on two minute ending that totally upset the entire logic of the film, including all of Ceasar's, and the other simians, motivations up to that point.

AndrewPrice said...

Cheetah, Yeah, I missed that one. I'm not even sure what the reference is?

AndrewPrice said...

PikeBishop, I'll watch it again before we do our Ape-opalooza so as to give it a fair review.

Scott said...

Sorry... I fully disagree with the review. Yes, the movie is predictable to people familiar with the source material, but so was Lord of the Rings. Is it that good? No, but it's an enjoyable popcorn flick that doesn't so much reboot the series as it rebuilds the mythos built by the first five films.

Best of all: it uses modern film making technology in addition to expanding on and enhancing the story instead of trying to replace story with special effects, like they tried to do in Burton's "Planet of the Apes".

My two cents, anyway.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

Lancelot Link was a comedy series that aired on ABC for one season in the early 70s. I've never seen it but a friend recommended it to me, mainly because it was created by two Get Smart writers.

Apparently, the show was about an ape secret agent who worked for an organization called - what else? - A.P.E., or Agency to Prevent Evil.

Sounds like fun!

AndrewPrice said...

ScottDS, I'm (not) sorry I missed it! ;)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, My problem with the predictability wasn't the overall plot, that would be inevitably predictable. My problem was that scene by scene you knew exactly what would happen in the upcoming scene and how it would happen. There wasn't a moment of surprise.

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