Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Rupert Wyatt/USA/105mins)
Something rather fine and creatively fortuitous happened within the process of Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ production and release that ensured it looked and played like one of the better summer blockbusters in recent years. It managed to arouse that particularly fulfilling thrill of immediate excitement that happens after you’ve just sat through something vastly, gleefully entertaining. It also managed to be substantially engaging for a long time thereafter – and on further viewing, too. The nimbleness of Wyatt’s direction played a healthy part in its evocation of the beginnings of the end of the human-dominated world. His camera takes in the vast detail of landscape and scrutinises man’s and ape’s eyes for signs of defeat/deceit. He has grand fun with it all, too: an epic ‘jail’ break resulting in the scariest shrewdness of apes trashing the streets of San Francisco and the staging an evolutionary-challenging face-off on the Golden Gate Bridge made for barmy, big-screen-happy ideas. Unnatural selection runs rampant. The effects team make everything look effortless – and deserve to be rewarded handsomely for their creative digital toil. Andy Serkis, as ex-Semper Fi simian Caesar, swings away with the acting honours, of course. But the rest of the cast work around him well enough. The astuteness of Wyatt and co. making a fresh Apes movie – another variant of Pierre Boulle’s source novel – whilst, at the same time, actually resetting a franchise (so that a probable sequel might then be a true remake of the original 1968 film that this Apes is now overhauling) was a move that sat on the right side of savvy. Everything about it was so brilliantly crafty. This was 2011’s best bout of destructive summer fun.