The best movies you never see coming. Into the Age of Anxiety comes this redux of the familiar Planet of the Apes series which relies heavily on that familiarity as it charges forward into uncharted territory. That territory is part breathtaking technology, part human self-loathing for what we’ve done, who we’ve become and our own despairing hopelessness about our future, and part rumination of the animal within: it all vibrates and quakes in this, one of 2011’s best films.
Never underestimate the element of surprise. Expectations weren’t running high — the thinking was it would be as campy as the old Planet of the Apes movies or worse, as bad as the Tim Burton one. What most weren’t expecting, of course, was that the Rise of the Planet of the Apes would be so character driven: because the technology is now seamless, there is very little separation between our awe and our emotional reaction. But still, with a movie like this there will always be those who refuse to take it seriously because technology is scary, which of course, is part of the film’s central theme.
The reason to see this movie is marvel at what we can now do with motion capture if you have the right actor (Andy Serkis) and the right FX (WETA), and a director (Rupert Wyatt) knows how to tell a good story; it’s almost shocking, for instance, how long it takes the movie to get going. It takes its time without rushing the audience headlong into the action. We get little hints of it here and there but at some point it sinks in that we’re not going to get the non-stop action and violence to which our ADD culture has become accustomed. So the audience dials it down, sits back and absorbs this odd character Caesar.