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Executive Summary: Not flawless, but a fun ride.

I enjoyed this movie. I want more, and the door is wide open for the next installment. That's the good news. I'd certainly put in in the "fresh" column at Rotten Tomatoes, but there are a couple of blemishes on this fruit that make it less than a ten-star flick.

My first gripe: Why is Andy Serkis so far down on the credits list? For my money, his CG-modeling is one of the things that makes the show so enjoyable. Even though I was watching Caesar, it never left my mind that I was watching Mr. Serkis act out every aspect of Caesar's moves and facial expressions. He is a master at his craft.

Second: There are some pretty gaping plot holes and "Aw, c'mon, you're not really going to do that!" moments in the story. I'm perfectly happy to suspend disbelief if a film is plausible and internally consistent - there were too many spots in the build-up to the edge-of-your-seat last half hour to leave me feeling perfectly satisfied.

Tom Felton seems determined to typecast himself as an evil schmuck - that said, he does a very good job at it. I'm told he's a very nice fellow in person, and I'd enjoy seeing him in a non-Malfoy type of rôle.

James Franco, Frieda Pinto and John Lithgow seemed woefully understated and underused. The apes should have gotten first billing in my book, because nobody else had a screen presence that came anywhere close. I don't blame them - I'd say it was a lack of good direction. Lithgow was intense and sincere, but again the entire landscape seemed to lack sparkle, and I know that's not because of Lithgow's shortcomings as an actor - I just don't think they gave him enough to work with.

One or two hat-tips to the original film with Charlton Heston made me smile, but seemed so derivative that they lost some impact. The only thing that saved the reference in the 2001 remake was the fact that Heston himself spoke the line in question.

I really enjoyed watching the development of the apes - that was my favorite part of the film. The rest of it seemed rather flat by comparison. I suspect this film will do moderately well in the theatres, but not as well as it could have if there were better scriptwriting and direction. Hopefully, the producers will learn their lesson from this one and rectify the errors for the sequel - provided this one does well enough to justify a second attempt.

Overall Rating: Seven out of ten stars.

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Aug. 6th, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Frankly, I think there's not much that filmmakers can do well with apes anymore. The original PotA is entertaining mainly for its reversal; I never took the pathos too seriously, even at the ending, which must have carried more shock value during the Vietnam War. King Kong has aged terribly, and its remakes improve only on the FX while preserving schlocktastic elements. This year's documentary Project Nim has had a lukewarm reception. I haven't heard mention of Gorillas in the Mist since the early '90s. And the less said about family comedies featuring simians, the better.

I suspect that the problem lies in their nigh-humanity. It's easy to fall into the trap of seeing apes and sometimes monkeys as ugly, brutish, generally stupid people. Like in Jackass.


The Old Wolf

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