Blu-Ray Review: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

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RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Rating: PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence.
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 13, 2011
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Stars: James Franco, Frieda Pinto, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Brian Cox

Technical Details:

Visual: Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC; Video resolution: 1080p; Aspect ratio: 2.35:1; Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Studio Synopsis:

A single act of both compassion and arrogance leads to a war unlike any other — and to the Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The Oscar-winning visual effects team that brought to life the worlds of Avatar and Lord of the Rings is breaking new ground, creating a CGI ape that delivers a dramatic performance of unprecedented emotion and intelligence, and epic battles on which rest the upended destinies of man and primate.

My Snapshot Review (** 1/2)

Some clever and not-so-clever nods and winks to the original series are tossed in to please the purists, but the one thing that “Rise…” desperately tries to convey to its viewers is that this is entirely new mythology. Director Rupert Wyatt has shot the film in a completely and wholly original way and 20th Century Fox is clear on rebranding this franchise. By exhibiting the ability to add realism to the simian characters that was flat out impossible and implausible in previous incarnations, they are on the right track. Let’s just tighten up that screenplay a bit for the next go-around, shall we?

The Extra Content:

Deleted Scenes (12:00): 11 are featured and can be viewed individually or together in one 12-minute sequence. A few short scenes are featured, but moreover, these are excised portions of scenes found in the film. As a result there is not a whole lot to take in here.

Mythology Of The Apes (7:11): The cast and crew discuss how this film compares, contrasts, and fits in to the “Planet of the Apes” film franchise.

The Genius Of Andy Serkis (7:48): Oscar voters, Academy members pay attention! A well-deserved tribute and behind-the-scenes look at THE performance-capture icon, Andy Serkis, who portrays Caesar.

A New Generation Of Apes (9:41): The Visual FX team of WETA discuss how they considered using real apes, ruled out human beings in ape suits, and opted for performance-capture. Interestingly, a former Cirque du Soleil performer runs an “Ape School” for the performance-capture performers during the production.

Scene Breakdown (1:34): A three-tiered look at one scene in the film which documents early animation, Andy Serkis’ performance capture work in the scene, and finally the same scene – in final form – which is shown in a Picture-In-Picture format so viewers can see how all the production elements fit together.

Character/Concept Art Gallery: As you would expect, sketches of the simian characters alongside their final form.

Breaking Motion-Capture Boundaries (8:43): A look at how the production team created and orchestrated the final action sequence at the Golden Gate Bridge, incorporating traditional CGI and cutting edge motion-performance alongside one another.

Composing the Score With Patrick Doyle (8:07): 2-time Oscar-nominated composer Patrick Doyle talks about the process and decisions he made in composing the score which punctuates much of the film’s key moments.

The Great Apes (~23:00): Images, factoids, and short documentary segments are provided for 23 minutes(!) in an effort to delineate between Chimpanzees, Gorillas, and Orangutans.

Audio Commentary by Director Rupert Wyatt

Audio Commentary by Writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver

Theatrical Trailers (6:30) for the film are featured; 4 in total.

Sneak Peeks (10:30) include trailers for Machine Gun Preacher, Immortals, Another Earth, There Be Dragons and FX Network programming.

Overall Thoughts:

“Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” is an engaging adventure film that, on its surface, plays like riveting theater. After watching it again recently for purposes of this review, I fully expected that I would be much more into the film and like it more than I initially did when I wrote my review. Yet, while I grow more and more appreciative of the below-the-line work and visual effects, as well as Andy Serkis’ incredible performance as Caesar, the screenplay has gaping wide holes that are just far too problematic for me to ignore. I can look through the holes however and still find a lot to enjoy here and as a relaunch of the Planet of the Apes franchise, the film does a fine enough job setting things up for future sequels.

SHOULD I RENT IT?!?! – Yes.
SHOULD I BUY IT?!?! – If you must.

* – Review also featured on Mike Ward’s Should I See It website.

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