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‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ provides fresh take

Movie review
By: Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger
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“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Directed by Rupert Wyatt Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis and Freida Pinto Rating: Four out of five stars ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ provides fresh take By Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger When a computer-generated monkey gives a better on-screen performance than an Oscar nominee, it’s evident that the use of digital technology in film production has reached an exciting new era. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is the fascinating product of a marriage between the finest technical wizardry and good old-fashioned thespian craft. Caeser, the ape protagonist at the center of the film, is given depth and soul by veteran performance-capture actor Andy Serkis. Having breathed life into various digital creations in the past, namely Gollum and King Kong, Serkis has perfected the art of emoting beneath layers of pixilated makeup. The film tells the story of how apes became the dominant species on the planet, as realized in the 1968 Charlton Heston classic, “Planet of the Apes.” The less said about the Tim Burton and Mark Wahlberg remake, the better. However, instead of actors in monkey costumes, “Rise” uses actors whose movements are tracked via motion tracking sensors and then grafted onto their digital simian counterparts. The result is the most life-like looking primate used in an “Apes” film to date that still maintains the human spirit that you get from an actor on set. The only film drawback is that because it seems like so much time was focused on the performances of the apes, the human storyline feels a bit undercooked. James Franco is fine in his role as a scientist researching a cure for Alzheimer’s but the rest of the human characters are poorly written and developed. Still, nitpicks aside, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a movie that justifies the term “reboot” in that it offers something fresh instead of just a simple re-hash of the series’ common tropes. It’s the rare summer film that provides plenty of thrills while also stimulating on an intellectual level and advances the way franchise reboots should be treated. Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.