Tag Archives: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

‘Apes’ rises to the occasion

Film review

In this image released by Twentieth Century Fox, Caesar the chimp, a CG animal portrayed by Andy Serkis is shown in a scene from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes ." (AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox)

In this image released by Twentieth Century Fox, Caesar the chimp, a CG animal portrayed by Andy Serkis, and James Franco are shown in a scene from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes ."  The prequel "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," opening in U.S. theaters Friday, features chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans crafted through performance-capture. It is the same technology used for the giant gorilla in Peter Jackson's 2005 "King Kong," with the same actor who did Kong, Andy Serkis, playing the lead chimp in the prequel.(AP Photo/Twentieth Century Fox)

Genetically enhanced chimpanzee Caesar (created by Andy Serkis and computer-generated imagery) shares emotional moments with his human family members (John Lithgow and James Franco) in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” a worthwhile movie.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” comes at an interesting time. It comes at a time when it certainly seems that the apes could do a better job of running the planet than we human beings are able to do, and it uncannily comes at about the same time as the release of the documentary “Project Nim,” which is about a chimp named Nim Chimpsky (named after linguist and leftist Noam Chomsky) that (who?) in the 1970s was raised as human being and was taught sign language — just like the protagonist chimp Caesar in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is good summer fare. It stretches believability a bit too often, but it’s great entertainment and it has some interesting ideas and touches on some important subjects, such as the ethical treatment of animals and the ethics of meddling with genetics (which the much lesser film “Splice” also explored). And besides, it’s about apes that take on human traits and eventually supplant human beings, so I suppose that it’s kind of pointless to insist upon strict believability throughout the film anyway.

Salon.com’s review of “Rise” slams star James Franco for not having been a stronger presence in the film, but hey, the movie isn’t titled “Rise of the Planet of James Franco.” We go to see a “Planet of the Apes” movie to see the apes. The human beings that appear in these films are secondary, just as they are portrayed as being in the films themselves.

Franco does a decent job as the scientist who is responsible for the genetic tweaking that inadvertently creates a virus that will wipe out most of mankind and that creates Caesar, the intellectually advanced chimpanzee who goes on to become the founding father, so to speak, of the apes that/who we first saw in the 1968 film “Planet of the Apes,” to which “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” pays homage by making numerous, mostly funny references.

Freida Pinto (of “Slumdog Millionaire” fame) does a fine job as Franco’s girlfriend, and thankfully, the theme of the level-headed girlfriend of the (mad?) scientist admonishing him about the potential dangers of his experiments (like in 1986’s “The Fly” or in 2009’s “Splice,” in which the dynamic is reversed and the mad scientist is the girlfriend and it’s boyfriend who is admonishing her) isn’t beaten into the ground.

John Lithgow plays Franco’s father, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, which Franco’s character is trying to cure. Lithgow’s character is cared for by Franco at home, and Lithgow’s, Franco’s and Pinto’s characters become a four-member family along with the character of Caesar, who was created by actor Andy Serkis of “Lord of the Rings'” Gollum fame and by computer-generated imagery.

The CGI in “Rise” is masterful, although some of it, such as the portrayal of the infant Caesar, could have used some improvement to look more life-like and less cartoon-like. Still, the CGI that was done well was done stunningly well.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” isn’t only about CGI and action. The emotional difficulty of being separated from a pet or a loved one — Caesar finds himself impounded with other “dangerous” apes that have not been genetically altered as he has been — is portrayed fairly well, as is the question of what the lines are between a pet and a family member and an animal and a human being.

That said, it seems that Franco’s character would be more distraught by Caesar’s long incarceration than he is portrayed to be — for a while in the movie it seems as though Franco’s character has forgotten about the incarcerated Caesar altogether — and it seems that when Franco’s character and Caesar must finally part for good, Franco’s character isn’t all that torn up about it, when I sure the hell would be were I in his shoes.

Two more criticisms: The mishap in the board room in front of investors, in addition to being highly unlikely in the way that it unfolds, seems to have been ripped off from the mishap-in-the-board-room scene that we already saw in “Splice.” And we already saw a climactic showdown on the Golden Gate Bridge in “X-Men: The Last Stand,” so I don’t think that we needed another one this soon. Still, some cheesiness aside, the climactic action sequence on the bridge is done fairly well. 

Overall, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is good entertainment, raises important issues, engages our empathic abilities (hopefully most of us still have those, to at least some extent) and is a fairly worthy prequel to “Planet of the Apes.”

My grade: B+

P.S. It seems kind of freaky to me that the original “Planet of the Apes” movie came out the same year that I was born, and I find it interesting that it came out in such a turbulent year. I’m going to have to watch that movie again, now that I’ve watched its prequel.

I’ve yet to see “Project Nim,” by the way, but I intend to when it comes here to Sacramento, which should be soon.

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Boycott WIN! (And chimp FAIL!)

Obama greets Brewer after stepping off Air Force ...

Reuters photo

Repugnican Tea Party Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer claims that she doesn’t want to see President Barack Obama’s circumcision certificate. (Of course, even if he did make it public, the wingnuts would call it a fake…)

Boycotts work. That’s why boycotts — even though they exemplify both free speech and the so-called “free market” — so often are criticized.

Take Arizona (I prefer to leave it. I did, actually, in 1998, after three decades there…): Repugnican Tea Party Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer yesterday vetoed a bill that would have required any individuals appearing on the state’s ballot for U.S. president to provide his or her birth certificate to the state’s top elections official, its secretary of state. Brewer wrote in her veto letter:

I never imagined being presented with a bill that could require candidates for president of the greatest and most powerful nation on Earth to submit their “early baptismal or circumcision certificates,” among other records, to the Arizona Secretary of State. This is a bridge too far.

I don’t believe for a nanosecond that that is the real reason that Brewer vetoed the bill. I have precious little doubt that she vetoed the bill primarily or even solely because the tourism-heavy state already is reeling from lost revenue from the political fallout (including, of course, the resultant boycott of the state) from S.B. 1070, the state legislation passed a year ago making it a crime to breathe while brown in Arizona whose key provisions the federal courts won’t allow the state to implement because they violate the U.S. Constitution.

With Arizona already known around the world as the South Africa of the American Southwest, no doubt Brewer thought it imprudent to sign a bill that targets one black man, Barack Obama, no matter how much the bill’s supporters, most of them stupid white men, lie to the contrary.

It’s a sign of how far gone Arizona is, however, that a (if not the) main problem of the bill that Brewer picked out is that one of the documents that the bill mentions as establishing citizenship is a circumcision certificate. Oooo! It’s penis-related! Can’t have that! Must! Veto! Anything! Related! To! The! Penis!

Brewer doesn’t want to alienate her base of white supremacists and xenophobes, so of course in her veto letter she didn’t say anything about racism or xenophobia or the probable unconstitutionality of yet another mean-spirited, white supremacist, racist bill passed by the Arizona Legislature. She didn’t even mention (not directly, anyway) how damaging to the state’s tourism industry (and its economy in general) its blatant white supremacism and racism have been.

Gay is the new black, however, and while the Repugnican Tea Party traitors use code words for “nigger” — such as “socialist,” “Muslim,” “Barack Hussein Obama” and “He wasn’t born here” — because blatantly open racism and white supremacism are taboo even in backasswards red states like Arizona, it’s still wide open fucking season on us non-heterosexuals.

While Brewer vetoed the so-called “birther bill,” yesterday she did sign a bigoted, homophobic, probably unconstitutional bill mandating that married heterosexual couples be given priority consideration when state agencies are placing children for adoption or foster care. So her hordes of red-state haters did get some red meat this week.

On the topic of the Repugnican Tea Party, don’t let me pick on Arizona where racism and white supremacism are concerned. An Orange County (California) Repugnican Tea Party official made the news this week for having sent out an e-mail portraying Barack Obama as a young chimpanzee with his chimp parents (thus explaining his supposed lack of a birth certificate, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!). In a statement, the incredibly fucktarded Repugnican Tea Party official, Marilyn Davenport, wrote:

I’m sorry if my email offended anyone, I simply found it amusing regarding the character of Obama and all the questions surrounding his origin of birth. [How does portraying Obama as a chimpanzee relate to his “character”? And “all the questions surrounding his origin of birth”? “Questions” only in the minds ofracist/white supremacist crackpots, but whatev…] In no way did I even consider the fact he’s half black when I sent out the email. In fact, the thought never entered my mind until one or two other people tried to make this about race. We all know a double standard applies regarding this president. I received plenty of emails about George Bush that I didn’t particularly like, yet there was no “cry” in the media about them.*

Not to defend a Repugnican Tea Party traitor, but “President” George W. Bush was routinely compared to the chimpanzee. (Go to images.google.com and type “bush chimp” in the search field and you’ll see plenty of hits.) I seem to remember having engaged in such a comparison myself, and there was (still is?), if memory serves, even a whole website dedicated to comparing Bush (and sometimes his kin) to chimps.

However, this was a clear statement about Bush’s level of intelligence, not a statement about his race.

Context is everything, and thus there is a difference between comparing a white person to an ape and comparing a black person to an ape. Comparing a black person to an ape hearkens to the days of slavery (and afterward…), when blacks were treated like animals. While comparing Bush to a chimp is a fairly clear statement as to his intelligence, comparing Obama to a chimp at least raises the possibility that the individual making the comparison is making a statement as to the fullness of Obama’s humanity and/or the inferiority or superiority of certain races.

And that’s a fucking problem, because once you relegate an individual or even a whole class or race of individuals to sub-humanhood or even animalhood, you then can justify the perpetration of all kinds of evils upon him or her or them.

Aside from the rather obvious racist/white supremacist overtones of it, if you are going to compare Obama to a chimp — if you must do it — shit, at least do it well.

The image that Davenport used in her e-mail —

— not only is utterly unfunny, but it’s a piss-poor PhotoShop job.

And that is almost as unforgiveable as is blatant white supremacism and racism. (Almost.)

With the upcoming release of “Planet of the Apes” prequel “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” brace yourself for even more Obama-chimp comparisons. Hopefully they at least will be technically well done, but of course they won’t be, since the Repugnican Tea Party fucktards aren’t funny, creative, intelligent or technically masterful. They’re not even intelligent enough to reflect upon the fact that all of us humankind rose from the apes, since they incredibly stupidly still believe in hocus-pocus flat-earther creationism instead of evolution.

Which makes you wonder who the real chimpanzees are…

That’s not to bash our primate first cousins, for whom I have much more respect than I do the Repugnican Tea Party traitors, who, because of evolution, have no fucking excuse…

*And true to wingnut form, Davenport tried to make the leaking of her e-mail the story instead of the e-mail itself — even though she talks of Obama’s “character.” Reports The Los Angeles Times:

County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh has called for the resignation of … Davenport, an elected member of the party central committee who sent the e-mail to some committee members and others last week. Baugh said he received it Friday afternoon and quickly responded with an e-mail telling Davenport it was “dripping with racism and is in very poor taste.” He said the issue should be referred to the Orange County GOP’s ethics committee.

According to an e-mail Baugh sent to committee members Saturday, Davenport described the Obama photo as a “joke” and wanted to know who had leaked the email to the OC Weekly’s R. Scott Moxley, who broke the story. She called the leak “cowardly” and wrote, “Anyone brave enough to come forward?”

Hmmm. If the e-mail were innocent, then why would its having been leaked be any problem?

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