Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Dir: Rupert Wyatt
Rebooting a much-loved ‘classic’ film franchise is a tricky business, but for every handful of failures, there’s sometimes an instance when they just get it right!
Tim Burton tried in 2001 to reboot Planet of the Apes, updating the story, modernising the visuals, but nevertheless failing to make much of an impact. Ten years later the reigns pass on to a relatively new british director with just one feature under his belt, Rupert Wyatt. Though his first film was a prison drama, he is set the challenge of working with bucket-loads of CGI, using the increasingly popular ‘mo-cap’ system for performance capture. The technology was a great fitting choice, and evidently so was the director!
James Cameron said that the reason he waited so long to make ‘Avatar’ was that he needed the technology to catch up with his vision, sadly he possibly needed his vision to be a good deal more refined too. In the case of ‘Planet of the Apes’ though, the prosthetics and make up were great for their time, and though they did add a certain charm, CGI works for it brilliantly. Also, to go along with the new look is a revamped story, that takes the main question left lingering from the original film ‘how exactly did things get here?’ Then begins to answer it with a science-fiction response that’s nicely rooted in science fact.
This film beautifully references the original ‘Planet of the Apes’ in lots of little ways, which I noticed as I just watched that a few hours ago. I won’t list them all, I think that’s a large part of the fun when you see this for yourself, which you really should. It gets straight into the story, within 10 minutes or so you have a good deal of the narrative set up, and within 20 you’re deeply engrossed. It also cuts out a lot of the wordy preachy dialogue, in favour of some nicely paced action, which for a modern audience is a great improvement. That’s not to say that it ‘dumbs down’ or loses the power of getting a message across, it still achieves that but through showing the effects of peoples actions rather than monologue about them.
I know that a sequel is in the pipeline, sadly without Wyatt, who left the project with valid concerns that the studio-set deadline wouldn’t allow for a fully developed film, and truly I hope he’s proven wrong by new torch-bearer Matt Reeves, simply so that all the hard work put in to re-ignite the franchise doesn’t go to waste.