Film: “Rise Of The Plane Of The Apes”
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis and Freida Pinto
Every revolution has three phases: rampant injustice, germination of revolt against it, and full-fledged revolution usually led by someone. “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” (ROTPOTA) chronicles these stages, reminding us to be grateful that animals perhaps cannot rise up against brutal humans who butcher them in the millions everyday even when they can eat other foods.
Caesar, a genetically modified ape who’s been secretly raised by a scientist Will Rodman (James Franco), grows up with an intelligence exceeding human’s. After being confined with other apes, like the Buddha he witnesses injustice for the first time. He unifies other apes, and rises up against the ruthless humans.
Hollywood has a history of action films full of computer generated imagery (CGI) but lacking basic imagination. ROTPOTA is surprisingly good in almost every department making it one of the most perfect commercial films ever.
Action films are not simply the display of violence. They are essentially about humanism and feelings whose subjugation finds expression in physical violence. Thus, the violence outside becomes a metaphor and a physical representation of the violence inside and is a statement against the rampant injustice that causes it in the first place.
External violence is thus shaped by internal conflict. Most filmmakers don’t understand this and though one does not need to know this to like an action film, the disproportionate nature of internal vs external violence makes for a far less satisfying film.
Director Rupert Wyatt understands this perfectly and though he could have gone overboard, considering the potential the story presents, he exercises restraint making ROTPOTA that much more enduring.
Despite its predictable plot, there are so many parallels, allegories and metaphors in the film that it’s a delight for discerning viewers. In Caesar we have the representation of a typical revolutionary and unlike many real revolutionaries he displays rare humanism and regard for life.
The true core of Caesar is love for his ape-kind and not the hatred of those who brutalise his kind. Thus, the fact that the ape Caesar is more human than most people is a satire on entire humankind. When he refuses to kill even when he can, he rises higher in his morality than every single human in the world who eats animals that are as living and feeling as humans are.
Frieda Pinto tries hard to imitate the accent of a South American. Thankfully, she is meant only to be an eye-candy. James Franco, expectedly, is good but the winner is CGI. All the apes in the film exist only on the computer. But to get right so many facial expressions makes all the difference in the film and brings the apes alive in the viewer’s imagination. It is Caesar’s expressions that give representation to the fact that his humanism exceeds his superior intelligence, again unlike most humans.
In terms of the Planet of The Apes franchisee, it is similar to the fourth film – “Conquest Of The Planet of the Apes”. Those following the film closely will see a foreshadowing of the first Charlton Heston movie, which will perhaps follow ROTPOTA, either immediately or after a few films. In essence though, this has the humanism of “The Elephant Man” and is the closest any film in the franchisee has come to the basic premise of the first film, revolution against injustice and the stupidity of humans.