December 16, 2011

Hail Caesar!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is now out on DVD. You don't have to be a fan of this popular sci-fi film franchise to enjoy this prequel that imaginatively tackles the evils of animal testing and genetic modification.

James Franco and John Lithgow play Will and Charles Rodman, respectively. Working as a scientist at the pharmaceutical company Gen-Sys, Will is driven by his desire to find a cure for his father's Alzheimer's disease. He ends up saving and adopting a super-intelligent chimp named Caesar (the fantastic Andy Serkis in yet another Oscar-worthy motion capture performance). Mr. Serkis' clever and sensitive performance makes the film work and even transcend its genre. He has outdone himself in this one.

After an unfortunate neighborhood incident, the misunderstood chimp is forced to go to a primate shelter inhumanely run by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his son Dodge (Harry Potter's Tom Felton). Caesar becomes the leader of the captive animals, and is responsible for the apes' eerie evolution. The movie makes one wonder what makes humans human. How can we, the more evolved species, be so cruel and barbaric to one another? While animals that are supposedly incapable of compassion, exhibit human-like traits and extend kindness to their fellow creatures, including man? The film's spectacular centerpiece is an epic battle at the Golden Gate Bridge. It was easy to root for our primate cousins. The film ends on a chilling but strangely satisfying note.

(photo from Imp Awards)


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