We follow Caesar (Andy Serkis), a chimpanzee who gains the intelligence that surpasses human prediction. He’s as sharp as any human, but more than that, he has the emotional / cognitive response that defied expectations. All thanks to a miracle drug. Raise from an infant by scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) and his primatologist girlfriend Caroline Aranha (Frieda Pinto), Caesar is taken from his parents, and sent to a “sanctuary” in San Bruno. Looking for liberation and justice for his primate kin, Caesar gives them the same drug that he had and subsequently a battle between humanity and primate ensues that would ultimately change the course of history forever.
Why don’t The Academy recognise motion capture performances in the same vein as they do the Leading Actor / Actress categories? Well, they need to! Caesar, played by Andy Serkis (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) is by far one of the best performances ever put to screen, whether we’re talking motion capture or not. This is the first film on his journey and his face says it all. His anger, fear and his child-like naivety still shows us that Caesar may be smart, but he’s still just a child and has little life experience to back up his intelligence. This is certainly my favourite Serkis character. Not only due to the excellent CGI, but also because of how the character has been written too.
Humanity fears what it does not understand, and that includes animals as well-known as monkeys. And it’s films like this that show us that we should treat animals a little better. They’re not robots without feelings or emotions. As shown with Caesar, we are privy to the fact these animals can be dangerous. But they can be our friends as well. The difference between animals and people is that they will make their feelings known quickly. They don’t beat around the bush. When it comes to human beings, you can never tell who you can trust. But when it comes to animals, even domesticated cats and dogs, you look into their eyes and you know exactly what lies in their heart.
Unlike the Bayformers’ films of mundane plots and god knows what, this is a character-driven story. Even though humans are in the story, it’s still very much about the primates. Well, it’s in the film’s title so that’s to be expected. This is a narrative of how a potential cure for Alzheimer’s went AWOL. And how we often put economics over common good. So, only the very rich could afford the cure, as shown with David Oyelowo (A United Kingdom) who played money-obsessed Steven Jacobs, the greedy boss of Will Rodman (Franco). Written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, we are looking at varied bag of characters, with blurred lines as shown by the contrasting Rodman and Jacobs.
Honestly, I think films like this are more real than not. Something like this could happen in the future. Humanity is arrogant. We’re number one on the food chain and all it takes is one bad day. With technology always going from strength to strength (often dangerously), who knows? Maybe decades from now, it’s a possibility? From the acting to cinematography to the CGI, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a brilliant first film to one of the greatest blockbuster trilogies of all time.