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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Moments in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES that lingered

Yes, I'm still slightly shocked, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is actually pretty good. Possibly one of the best of the year.

So yes, go see it if you haven't already. Director Rupert Wyatt has a good grasp with pacing, characters, visual flourishes and some tiny little details, I ended up smiling and nodding a lot during the film. I always smile when I feel this unexpected rush when seeing an enjoyable film.

Obviously, this post contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the film, don't read the rest of this post.

If you have, join in the fun.

These are some moments of the film that I really liked (in chronological order):

- I'm a fan of great cinematic time transitions. (Go read A. V. Club's 24 Memorable Cinematic Time Transitions if you are one as well) So I enjoyed the part where young kiddy Caesar is climbing up a tree in Muir Woods, and we see the cycle of time passing by in simple dissolves, and when he reaches the top of the tree, watching San Francisco, he is already an adult.

- There's this short scene at the dining table where Caesar notices that the Alzheimer-addled Charles is holding the fork the wrong way and gently reaches over to correct the position.

- I felt that the film reached a certain level of awesomeness after Caesar was thrown into the animal shelter. Caesar's passage from prisoner to charismatic revolutionary leader has a lot of great moments. Brooding in the cell, communicating with Maurice, dethroning Rocket as THE, er, ape in the group, sneaking into Will Rodman's house and watching his once 'father' (and 'mother') sleeping, unaware of his presence etc. By then, I was already fully invested in Caesar, and none of the human characters. I also immediately, mentally, joined the 'give Andy Serkis an Oscar nomination already!' camp (still felt that he got robbed for not getting any Oscar nods as Gollum in the LoTR films, I also thought he gave King Kong a soulful, sympathetic presence in Peter Jackson's 2005 remake, despite the film's flaws)

- Caesar's retort when Draco Malfoy shouted the Charlton Heston line: "Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!" Caesar's response caused a lot of shocked gasps (including mine) in the theater during last night's screening.

- When the apes break out of prison, it is one great evocative image after another. Silhouettes of an ape army at night, leaves raining down the suburban neighbourhood, that climax at the Golden Gate Bridge, where Caesar shows his true tactical brilliance. I started wondering whom th cinematographer was, turned out that he's Andrew Lesnie, the Oscar-winning Australian cinematographer who shot the Lord of the Rings films, King Kong, I Am Legend etc. (he does give most films he shot an epic, visual feeling)

- Caesar on a horse.

So yeah, there are quite a lot of things I like about the film... and they all involve the apes!