The Rise of the Planet of the Apes

8/10

The rise of the planet of the apes, very long title indeed, is a science-fiction film that aims to outreach all expectations: Quickly paced, stylishly shot, and amazingly realistic CGI effects make it better than all other  planet of the apes films, leaving out Charlton Heston’s original.  It stars James Franco as Will Rodman, a scientist working on apes with new medicine-synthesis’. He invents a concoction that could possibly cure his father’s oncoming disease, and he uses it on him warily and desperately. The result is not only curing, but also enhancing; his memory capacity, ability to learn and so on; this is the premise that creates the quasi-intelligence of the apes, and the reason Caesar breaks from the ape-containment center and retrieves the vacuum-sealed medicine, in Rodman’s fridge.

There is an emotional honesty to the primal love Will has for Caesar, and the subsequent pain of seeing him wreak havoc. The super-intelligence turns Caesar into Alexander the Great, a chest-beating rioter preparing to over-take the planet. When they first escape from their prison, there is a scene where a father is driving through an autumn-looking neighborhood, tossing the daily newspapers with his boys. He gets out of the car when he sees bushels of leaves falling from the trees and onto the street, and when he looks up, it’s the apes climbing branch to branch; this sort of imagery is very imaginative, as the leaves falling reminds one of a coming apocalypse, a shedding of beauty.

The first half takes its time exploring the relationship between Will, the father, and growing Caesar. When animal-control finally has to take Caesar away after attacking a neighbor, he is dressed in a burgundy red shirt and blue pants, the same look given to the character in the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes. The film also has close-ups of newspapers and television coverage of the mission to mars, which is an ode to the original film, where the astronauts arrive at the planet of the apes after a voyage headed for mars.

The darkness of Planet of the Apes is just brewing; the upcoming sequel to the prequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I’m sure will be the evolution of the overtaking, the society crumbling. The final scenes of Rise are riveting, and display great camera choreography from the director, with Chimps swinging across the bridge with rebellious grunts, jumping onto the traffic and smashing windows. The film is a bold and welcome induction into the science-fiction genre: a super-stylized, yet incredibly sensitive look at the unexplained gap in the original Planet of the Apes.

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Film Review: 2001- A Space Odyssey

2001 is a synthesis of Kubrick and Clarke’s storytelling capabilities, and is an unattainable standard for space-bound pics, at-least the ones with clear hard science-fiction motives. Duncan Jones’ ‘Moon’ is under Odyssey’s wing, among others, including its admittedly sub-par sequel. Like most repeatedly say, the movie is a picture book of poster-ready images, never once escaping its own brilliance.

The beginning of 2001 is at a dry, desolate landscape, filled with wandering apes. The sun and moon rise to form eclipses, a gnostic metaphor for inspired evolution, which soon comes in the form of a dark, rectangular monolith, one of the greatest images in cinematic history. The apes cower and groan at its sight; but this jump-starts their evolution, and the next part in the story flips millions of years later, to a space-shuttle heading for the moon. Dr. Heywood Floyd is preparing to brief a group of supervisors about the cover-story for whats been found on the moon: No one presently knows exactly what it is. The monolith?

The third act is the day-to-day lives of the 2001 Astronauts, Dave Bowman and Frank Poole. The two converse casually, eat the normal vacuum-frozen meals, creating an eerie comfort to their surroundings. They sit at the same table, while looking at two different video-tablets on the same interview. One can see they do their own things, while also able to speak and be friends. The split between them is a robot, named HAL 3000. A rectangular output-device with a glowing red dot as a face, HAL turns the scheduled space-shuttle into horror and chaos; he alleges a part to need maitenance, as part of a scheme to take out the two astronauts and safely clear the way for the missions end-goal. Human-error is what HAL fears the most, but perhaps not as much as having his plug-ripped.

The phlegmatic manner in which the shots are placed, by Stanley Kubrick, is worth a generation of film-students study. Each scene has an importance, and they are all aesthetically innovating; the scene I found the most impacting, was the claustrophobic moment when Bowman and Poole are conniving on the strange actions of HAL, inside a sealed Pod. The camera turns into HAL’s POV, and we see him focusing on each of the astronauts lip-movement, through close-up panning; he’s studying their rebellion.

Anyone interested in this movie should read Arthur Clarke’s ‘The Lost Worlds of 2001’  with some real unique journal entries of him working diligently for months with Kubrick, who he regards very highly as a professional and a friend. The movie will never be forgotten: a dark, pessimistic view of artificial intelligence.