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Old 01-11-2012, 10:14 PM

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was a 2011 movie that received a great deal of critical praise and saw a very decent run at the box-office. Recently, people have been talking about how Andy Serkis' mo-cap performance, (which provided something more than a simple frame of reference for the CGI rendered chimp, Caesar) may get him an Oscar nod. While Serkis' work in the film adds depth and empathy to Caesar, I found nothing else in the film to be nearly as compelling.

The film uses an overdone, but effective sci-fi premise as the basis for its story; the idea that man can take his quest for knowledge and advancement too far and in doing so, wreak havoc upon his own species. In this case, James Franco's atypical scientist character seeks a cure for Alzheimer's through his experiments with Chimpanzees. As a consequence of his experimentation, Franco alters and enhances the intelligence of the chimpanzees, particularly a chimp named Caesar. Franco's character becomes partially aware of the potential dangers of his experiments early on in the film, but when the time comes he can't bring himself to put down Caesar, so he smuggles him away from his lab and into his home.

As the days go by he observes Caesar's growing intelligence and overlooks the dangers that Caesar's intellect presents in favor of medical advancement. Distraught by his father's continually deteriorating case of Alzheimer's, Franco lets his personal feelings dictate his choices instead of rational scientific thought. In essence, he is like so many other movie characters we've seen from the past 50 years, and what's worse? He's boring.

It doesn't take a movie genius to correctly guess what happens later on in this movie. As I watched it, I became quite irked that this Apes film didn't seem to have an original bone in its body. When watching this film, I instantly recalled a mediocre film from 2000 called Deep Blue Sea, in which super intelligent sharks rebel against the scientists who altered their intelligence. Apes may have substituted apes for sharks, but it didn't even bother to avoid a parallel to Deep Blue Sea with its inclusion of Alzheimer's disease as an element in the plot.

The disorder was used in the Rise Of The Apes in the exact same way that Deep Blue Sea utilized it: as a means for experimentation that causes unforeseen side effects in the animals used in the experiments. The two films draw yet another parallel with their main characters; each character is consumed by his/her own personal feelings/motivations surrounding the experiments, which cause them to be reckless in their pursuit of scientific knowledge. It's one thing to recycle a classic premise, but entire story elements? That's just lazy writing.

Of course one can respond to my criticisms and say that Rise Of The Apes didn't completely imitate Deep Blue Sea in its story development and that's true. As an audience, we are meant to empathize with Caesar, which is something we really weren't meant to do with the sharks in Deep Blue Sea, (although I was routing for the sharks honestly). Also, the outcomes of each film are different, (although I suspect that has more to do with the franchise potential of Apes). My criticisms may appear to be exaggerations of minutia to some, and I admit that the comparison of the main characters exemplifies traits that are found in many other sci-fi characters from many other films, but I think I still have a couple valid points here.

Maybe I can't just outright accuse Apes of plagiarizing Deep Blue Sea because technically the film has done enough to avoid copyright infringement, but I don't really want to let the film off the hook. Perhaps I've seen one too many of these preachy ethical sci-fi films, (just last year we had the film Splice) or perhaps I'm just mad that this particular film lacked so much creativity with its premise that it had to borrow directly from another film. What really upsets me though is that this story is told in such an unoriginal way in this film and so many critics and audience members continue to rave about it.

Why? Why this film? How did this film make the same story that much more appealing? This movie is so according to formula that it's not even funny! It brought absolutely nothing new to the table! This isn't even the first time I've seen Serkis do his mo-cap schtick! For right now, I'm sticking with the belief that the impressive CGI work combined with a franchise name and Serkis' emotional performance were what drove audiences to the theater and caused critics to rave about the flick.

Story-wise, Apes give me the same old song and dance, which killed my enjoyment of the film. What did this film give me that films like Jurassic Park, The Island of Dr. Moreau, Deep Blue Sea, The Fly, and Splice didn't give me? The answer? Nothing. It was a boring, predictable and lifeless affair complete with wooden acting from Franco. At least Splice had some balls to it.

My take? The most overrated movie of the year by far.


P.S. Good job typecasting Draco Malfoy as another little douche bag. What a joke.
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