20th Century Fox has been on a roll, promoting the upcoming prequel/semi-reboot Rise of the Planet of the Apes left and right. The previously-released TV spots and trailers for the film have been big on painting it as a mix of sci-fi cautionary tale, personal drama, and cutting-edge visual effects used to realize the non-human simian characters onscreen, courtesy of WETA Digital (Avatar).
The studio has unveiled an extended clip from the film, which likewise combines melodrama with some slick footage of Andy Serkis as the chimp Caesar (brought to life with performance-capture technology). But does it make the movie looking genuinely moving – or borderline soapy?
One of the consistent complaints voiced so far about the Planet of the Apes prequel footage is that it seems a bit on the maudlin side, with imagery of Caesar being separated from his surrogate human family and abused by his “caretakers” at an inhumane primate sanctuary. It’s not entirely unfair to say that the Rise of the Planet of the Apes preview clips at times seem like ads for PETA, in that regard.
A pivotal moment that has been teased throughout the Apes ad campaign is when Caesar comes to the aid of his adapted grandfather, Charles (John Lithgow), who is showing early signs of Alzheimer’s disease and ends up getting in a scuffle with an easily-enraged neighbor as a result. Is this scene in particular too corny for its own good?
Watch a good chunk of that sequence from Rise of the Planet of the Apes in the video (via Yahoo! Movies) below:
From a technical perspective, this Apes sequence is pretty impressive, with regards to Caesar’s mobility in particular. As far as digitally-rendered characters go, it looks far more convincing when Serkis’ ape tackles Charles’ assailant and begins pounding the man with his bare hands, than it does in other films that feature CGI characters picking up or handling flesh-and-blood people (the Transformers movies have always had issues with that).
The emotional drama and conflict of this sequence definitely walks the line between being overly melodramatic and appropriately moving. Still, in the context of the actual Apes movie, there should be a good deal of buildup to this moment, establishing just how strong a bond Caesar has with his adopted human family – and how much of a fish-out-of-water he is in the everyday human world. So, as it stands, this turning point in the film might ultimately feel natural (and tragic), in that respect.
As Serkis noted in the introduction to that Rise of the Planet of the Apes clip, this is a unique specimen of a film, with regards to how the story is told from the perspective of Caesar – and not his human companions. It’s a tricky act, getting moviegoers to rally around a CGI animal, but the Apes character seems quite able to communicate a wide range of emotions and work as an engaging protagonist, which should help. Who knows, maybe his turn as Caesar will even get Serkis more of the awards attention that a lot of people felt he deserved for his mo-cap performance as Gollum in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
As always, we shall find out for certain when Rise of the Planet of the Apes hits U.S. theaters on August 5th, 2011.
Source: Yahoo! Movies