25 August 2011 | d_a_m_8
I really wanted to like this film more -- and I'm sorry...
...but it didn't do it for me. I'm a huge fan of the series (excluding the Tim Burton disaster, of course) but this didn't have nearly the depth nor the intelligence I was expecting. Like most I was initially skeptical at the idea of attempting to reboot the franchise -- but as positive reviews kept flowing in regarding this "smart" script and Avatar-like CGI, I began to get excited again. With the surprisingly high box office numbers and positive feedback from most who saw it, I got more excited.
I finally ponied up last night to check it out.
The good news: The CGI apes stuff works pretty well. Serkis does his usual great job (although I thought his King Kong was better). Action sequences and set pieces are all good.
The bad news: There's no Rod Serling-style, Twilight Zone-ish, philosophical themes or moral messages here. It isn't "smart" compared to the original films. This one is more like POTA for Dummies. It relies on a trite storyline that's been beaten to death (Don't play God; Don't mess with Nature -- yada, yada, yada) with nothing more interesting or thought-provoking. The original series was not afraid to hit you in the gut and make you think. Those movies were much heavier in every way; while this plays much more like a straight action film. Entertaining from that aspect -- along with Caesar himself, but not much else. So, I don't know where all this "smart" talk came from. If this passes for smart then our standards have dropped.
Next is the acting. I don't blame the actors b/c it didn't seem that they had much to work with. Franco, Pinto, Felton, Cox and the rest are all one-note characters with little depth. All the humans are cardboard clichés in this film. I know Caesar is the protagonist -- but to have the other actors be so uninteresting is a real drawback. And this -- along with the trite story -- reminds me a bit of Avatar. A by-the-numbers retelling of Pocahontas or Dances with Wolves -- where all the characters are one-dimensional. Visually stunning, yes -- but with shallow characterizations. In Avatar, military guy = bad, corporate exec = bad; in ROTPOTA, drug company exec = bad, neighbor = bad, chimp worker = bad. There's not much else to say about them since we're not presented with their context.
No one wanted to like this more than me. I was hoping the flavor of the original series had been brought back -- but I'm afraid if we can't resurrect Rod Serling or enlist a writer of his caliber, we'll never see it again.