Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray / DVD)
Directed by Rupert Wyatt
Distributed by Fox Home Entertainment
I, like many Apes fans, left the theatre after watching Tim Burton's reboot of The Planet of the Apes feeling absolutely confused and furious. Apes wearing eyeliner? A flaccid end battle sequence? A ridiculous and completely senseless tacked on ending twist? Yeah, things were not good in the land of the intelligent primate. In fact they were dismal. Fast forward a few years, and 20th Century Fox decides to go to the well once more for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. A prequel of sorts which more or less offers a modern-day retelling of the classic Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Reaction was guarded, yet mostly pessimistic. Was the magic lost forever? Surprisingly enough - not even close!
You know what the plot of this film is from its title so there's little need to go there. Let's just talk about the movie itself. Director Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a very smart film. Smart enough to have a great script penned by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. Smart enough to hire a great cast, including a heartbreaking portrayal delivered by Jon Lithgow. Smart enough to pay a lot of respect to the source material while offering something new. And most importantly ... smart enough to hire the great and woefully under-appreciated Andy Serkis to portray the leader of said ape rebellion.
Serkis is to today's filmmaking community what the great Lon Chaney was to the budding film community of yesteryear. He possesses the uncanny ability to be able to become and breathe life into any character thrown his way no matter what the rigors of playing a certain role will be. He acts with his entire body. Every movement, every emotion, every facial expression, every nuance that could make you believe what you are seeing is real is there in spades. He is the heart and soul of this film, making you laugh, cry, and even cheer out loud. The man can do it all, and it's high time that he be recognized for his greatness.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a true gift for fans of the franchise. An unexpected diamond whose only fault is leaving you wanting more. Much more. The film's ending comes off as quite abrupt and makes you realize just how much more of this tale there is to tell. It's as if we reached the halfway point in a much larger and longer picture. I will say this, though: The end credits are genius and add to the mythos. Don't even think about cutting them off.
If you have the tech, you'll want to ignore the fact that the DVD version of this film even exists. Don't get me wrong; it looks and sounds as good as possible, but this flick is MEANT to be experienced in 1080p as the crisp detail is nearly startling in its beauty. You can see every single hair on every single ape. Black levels are rich, colors are bright, and everything is as razor sharp as you could have hoped for. The DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio track only serves to enhance the experience by giving your home theatre system quite the workout. Really, this is as good as it gets.
Now on to the extras, of which there is a bevy! First off we get two commentary tracks - one with director Rupert Wyatt, who really seems to be enjoying himself and even marveling a bit over just how well it all turned out, and the other with writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who take their time expanding on ideas and plot points. It's clear this duo were fans of the series, and their chemistry on the track is undeniable. Really good stuff. From there we have several featurettes covering a lot of ground from moviemaking to educational offers pertaining to several types of primates, an eight-minute look at the film's sound effects and music, a multi-angle look at the Rocket Cookie scene, twelve deleted scenes that clock in at a around twelve minutes long, and finally a piece on the genius of Andy Serkis. Add on a couple of galleries and three trailers, and what we have here is one of the most impressive home video packages of the entire year. Kudos to Fox and this absolute home run!
Even if you've never seen a Planet of the Apes film or aren't a fan of the franchise, this flick is still a must see as it encompasses everything we go to the movies for. It's that damned good. Let's hope that the series, much like the apes themselves, just keeps evolving from here. We're certainly on the right track!
4 1/2 out of 5
5 out of 5