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As much as I liked director Tim Burton’s remake of PLANET OF THE APES, even I could see that the film was an ill-conceived and misguided attempt by the studio to re-launch the 1968–1973 science fiction franchise. The original PLANET OF THE APES film was too far woven into popular culture, and "the remake" tried to build a new franchise with the end story, which left the writers of the 2001 film unable to extricate themselves from the box they had written themselves into. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES ($40) comes at the material from the other end of the spectrum- creating a new origin story that reworks the premise of CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. However, unlike CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES approaches the same basic story in a rich, thought provoking, and more importantly, a decidedly credible way. Where the original PLANET OF THE APES franchise never convincingly explained the rapid evolution of apes into a sentient species that was able to quickly dominate the human race, the science behind the science fiction of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES makes the film’s story plausible and timely.

James Franco stars in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES as Will Rodman, a pharmaceutical company scientist, who is trying desperately to develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease, via a gene therapy attached to a retrovirus. Will’s passion for the project has a personal basis, as his father Charles (John Lithgow) is suffering from advanced Alzheimer's disease. Experimenting on chimpanzees, Will thinks they have made a breakthrough with a new treatment that not only restores cognitive function; it also imbues the test subjects with hyper-intelligence. However, there is an unfortunate setback that puts an "official" end to Will’s research… and said setback results in the pharmaceutical company destroying the test subjects. Complicating matters is that one of test subjects gave birth prior to being destroyed, and the chimpanzee wrangler refuses to terminate the newborn ape, thus giving the baby chimp to Will.

Will takes the infant chimp home and his father names the new member of the household Caesar (motion capture performance by Andy Serkis). As he grows, Caesar demonstrates unprecedented intelligence, indicating that his mother passed on the benefits of the gene therapy. Reaching adulthood with off the chart intelligence, Caesar is forcibly taken from his loving human family and imprisoned- learning harsh life lessons from the worst of the human species. You can only imagine what happens when Caesar is able to break free of captivity and uses his enhanced intelligence for the benefit of his own kind. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES features solid performances across the board, but Andy Serkis motion capture work is again a standout and deserving of additional recognition. The cast of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES also features Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine, Jamie Harris and David Hewlett.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES features a remarkably good 1080p presentation that not only benefits the principle photography; it also shows off the film’s impressive CGI work in its best light. Image clarity, sharpness, depth and detail all garner high marks. Fine details such as individual hairs, tiny lines on the actors’ faces, as well as the textures of objects are all rendered at a first rate level. Even the CGI work features a remarkable level of clarity and fine detail- there were no shortcuts taken in texturing the CGI characters for their close-ups. Colors are fairly vibrant, but not to excess; flesh tones look realistic and true. Blacks are dead on perfect and the whites are crisp. Contrast and shadow detail are generally excellent. The elements from which RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES has been mastered are pretty much without flaws. Modest grain/noise is noticeable, and helps to maintain an organic quality for the presentation.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This is a fairly excellent soundtrack, but the sound design isn’t always showy. Much of the story is dialogue heavy with the sound localized primarily to the forward soundstage, although those sequences are augmented to create realistic sonic environments. Action sequences are livelier and engage all of the outlying channels with excellent directionality and seamless panning of effects through the soundstage. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is excellent, with Patrick Doyle’s musical score reaping the benefits, in addition to the track producing wholly believable sound effects. Additionally, the bass channel is deep and percussive, which impressively enhances gunfire, impacts and explosions. Voices have a warm, natural quality, plus the film’s dialogue is totally understandable. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as few supplements. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries included on the Blu-ray Disc; the first is with director Rupert Wyatt, while the second includes writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Mythology Of The Apes (seven minutes), The Genius Of Andy Serkis (eight minutes), A New Generation Of Apes (ten minutes), Scene Breakdown (two minutes), Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries (nine minutes), Composing The Score With Patrick Doyle (eight minutes) and The Great Apes (three parts; twenty three minutes total). Three Theatrical Trailers and a Character Concept Art Gallery close out the standard supplements. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, plus a Digital Copy of the film.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES re-launches the science fiction film franchise with an excellent first installment that offers true potential for quality sequels. The Blu-ray presentation is first class all the way. Highly recommended.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Two-Disc Edition Blu Ray + DVD/Digital Copy Combo) [Blu-ray] (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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