Friday, August 12, 2011

It's all yours, chimps!

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" features your standard sci-fi plot No. 3, whereby science with the best of intentions goes awfully awry. The movie has its moments, but is generally ho-hum. The acting is uniformly middling. James Franco sleep-walks through the whole thing, substititing a kind of befuddled concern for Charlton Heston's angry burn in the original. Freida Pinto is here strictly for ornamentation, although she does get to deliver the obligatory "Some things are not meant to be changed" line.

Critics seem to love the performance-capture technology used to turn actors into chimps, but frankly I found the chimps even less inspiring than the humans. Our chimp hero Caesar (Andy Serkis) has a very narrow emotional range, usually somewhere between pouting and brooding. Give me Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter mugging through their layers of makeup any day.

Eventually our army of chimp rebels escape from their prisons and gallop across the Golden Gate, facing down the CHiPs and our nasty corporate antihero. Their objective? Muir Woods, where Caesar plans to make their new home. The Muir Woods are indeed lovely, but redwood forests are actually rather barren of vegetation, and I found myself wondering, "What will they eat?" But then I remembered that they are in Marin! If they get hungry they can swing over to Bradley Ogden's Tavern at Lark Creek for a bite... if they can get a reservation, that is...

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