Thursday, 25 August 2011

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, dir. Rupert Wyatt, wr. Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silva, st. James Franco, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Andy Sirkis

Were he alive today, I wonder what Pierre Boulle would have made of the enduring appeal of his novel La Planète de Singes. I doubt he could have predicted that, by his own admission, his unfilmable sci-fi novel would spawn an Oscar winning adaptation in 1968, four sequels between 1970 and 1973, an imaginative but muddled re-boot in 2001, and now this, a second re-boot, once more laden full of content pregnant with possibilities for yet more sequels. I wrote a while back about Hollywood looking too much to its past for inspiration, and indeed there is something wearing about rehashing the same old, albeit fertile, ground; poor Boulle's novel, like many before and after it, has become a cash-cow for the great Hollywood machine. It's sad and its transparent nature as a commodity is embarrassing and ungainly. So what are we left with? Well, as a movie, Rise works surprisingly well. The first thing to say is that, unfortunately, we're still a long way off photorealistic CG characterisation; while intimate close ups of Serkis' Caesar work brilliantly, with every palm-crease and follicle strand being meticulously detailed, long or group shots of the marauding apes lack a feeling of mass and momentum. And it's a shame because there's something endlessly fascinating about the well-trod cautionary tale of Animal and Human. Franco and Pinto don't really do much, Cox is in full-on Rent-a-villain mode, Lithgow does his furrowed brow thing, and Andy Serkis, well when finally the tech's there, I'm sure we'll be talking Oscars once more.