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Watch: Trailer For 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Has Distinct Whiff Of 'The Happening'

by Oliver Lyttelton
April 14, 2011 1:03 AM
18 Comments
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The value of a home-grown franchise for a big studio can't be undervalued, and since they adapted Pierre Boule's novel "La planète des singes" into 1968's "Planet of the Apes," it's become one of 20th Century Fox's key properties, spawning five additional movies, and two separate TV series. But the monkey-heaviest sci-fi series around isn't what it once was, and 2001's Tim Burton 're-imagining' failed to successfully re-launch the franchise, due to being really, really terrible. But you can't keep a good merchandising opportunity down, and the studio have gone back to the well, with the talents of Andy Serkis, James Franco and effects geniuses WETA Digital leading the charge.

Derived from a script entitled "Caesar," by Scott Frank, and starring Franco as a scientist whose attempts to cure Alzheimer's disease leading to the creation of a hyper-intelligent ape who leads a revolution against mankind, the film has undergone title and release date changes, but it's finally settled, and heading for an August bow. Now, after a couple of days of teasing, Apple have landed the first trailer for "Rise of the Escape of the Conquest from Beneath the Battle for the Planet of the Apes," or whatever the fuck we're calling it these days. And... we're not quite sure what to make of it.

For the most part, the teaser goes for atmosphere over spectacle, which is admirable, and the effects work by WETA (who, interestingly, get top billing thanks to the "Avatar" connection in the trailer) is certainly impressive, even if it's not quite at the level where it can pass for an actual chimpanzee. There's certainly some nice imagery at work in places -- we've long been a supporter of director Rupert Wyatt, whose underseen debut "The Escapist" was very excellent indeed, and there are moments here that certainly demonstrate his skills.

But we're still not convinced. The performances seem a little stilted -- Serkis' typically expressive performance-capture work aside -- with James Franco seemingly reprising his turn in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" films and "Slumdog Millionaire" star Frieda Pinto either playing Franco's girlfriend, or the literal manifestation of his conscience. And it's hard not to feel that the film hasn't quite overcome the silliness inherent in the premise -- the scenes of monkey mayhem in the trailer''s second half are clearly aiming for something like "The Birds," but are far more reminiscent of M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening." Plus, the monkeys can't exactly be that intelligent if there's a gorilla launching itself off a bridge towards a helicopter.

We've got enough faith in Wyatt, and the decent draft of the script that we read, that we're not writing it off altogether, but the film remains one of the bigger question marks of the summer. We'll find out if it works when "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" opens on August 5th.

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18 Comments

  • Mr. Arkadin | April 18, 2011 9:06 AMReply

    You know the saying, "Human see, human do."

  • Pota | April 15, 2011 8:23 AMReply

    Looks AWESOME!

  • Matt | April 15, 2011 8:09 AMReply

    This is meant to rewrite the mistakes made by Tim Burton?

    Oh dear.

    Based on this steaming mess of a trailer, I'd take Burton's film any day of the week. At least it had some nice production design.

  • Dan | April 15, 2011 3:45 AMReply

    This looks like iRobot, but with apes instead of robots.

  • hmm | April 14, 2011 5:17 AMReply

    Hey @Stacey, that's really interesting. I'm surprised they didn't include that in the trailer--the proud history of showbiz Armenians is definitely a great hook for the tweens!

  • Rufus | April 14, 2011 4:23 AMReply

    I'm looking forward to this. Looks better than the last Apes movie.

  • enrique | April 14, 2011 4:01 AMReply

    Awful. Just awful. Maybe Franco should start looking into roles as an extra. His career is finished after this. Turns out 80% of life is not just showing up.

  • Sloan | April 14, 2011 4:01 AMReply

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes of the Planet of Earth. Jesus, why don’t they put the year and the day in the title too. Super redundant.

    This is my 100% honest opinion.

    That trailer is one of the most unintentionally hilarious movie trailers I have ever seen.

    I laughed so hard when I saw the ape staring at the couple in the bedroom, and laughed even HARDER when I saw all of the bare-assed apes wreaking havoc on the Golden Gate Bridge.

    If this movie is half as retarded as it looks, I’m in. I’m so interested in this movie now. Ironically, of course.

  • Stacey Abrams | April 14, 2011 3:59 AMReply

    Andy Serkis is partly Armenian. A lot of people don’t know that.

    Some other Armenian icons and legends include Andre Agassi, Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Cher, Princess Diana (1/64 Armenian), Atom Egoyan, Arshile Gorky, The Kardashians, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Kirk Kerkorian, Mike Connors, William Saroyan, Seymour Skinner (Armen Tamzarian), System of a Down, Steven Zaillian, Michael Vartan, Gregory Peck, Dita Von Teese, Ken Davitian, David Hedison, David Dickinson, Simon Abkarian.

  • rodie | April 14, 2011 3:56 AMReply

    Well, it certainly looks better than Burton's lame Apes movie, but I just can't get excited about this. Enough with these damn dirty apes!

  • Oliver Lyttelton | April 14, 2011 3:15 AMReply

    Same premise and plot, up to and including the name "Caesar." I haven't read Frank's script, but from everything I've heard, I'd be very surprised if he didn't end up with at least a 'story by' credit through WGA arbitration -- bear in mind the IMDB doesn't take that into account.

  • Ryan | April 14, 2011 2:58 AMReply

    @Oliver Do you know how similar this is to Scott Frank's original idea? He doesn't have a screenwriting credit on imdb, and I remember he was in talks to write and direct an "Apes" reboot, I just wasn't sure how much of this is his idea.

    I'm not being critical, just genuinely curious about any details you have on Scott's involvement.

  • BradZuhl | April 14, 2011 2:11 AMReply

    Obviously a big part of the story is the fact that Caesar can talk, which they don't show any of in the trailer. How well WETA pulls that off will go a long ways towards deciding whether or not this film works. Maybe their tag line should be You Will Believe A Chimp Can Speak!

  • Magnus | April 14, 2011 1:40 AMReply

    Actually, this was a big, positive surprise.
    The ape stuff looks sensational!!
    Hopefully, the finished film will have a somewhat intelligent story to tell as well. At least it once existed as that in script form. But you never know how much of it will still be in the finished movie...

  • BuntyHoven | April 14, 2011 1:33 AMReply

    Can't see The Happening comparisons really, except for the scene where the leaves are all falling down in the park. It looks more like Congo 2: Congo and the City or something.

  • ABillingtonFS | April 14, 2011 1:21 AMReply

    Noooo no it's nothing like The Happening at all. Don't make that comparison, that's just unnecessary and hurtful, when really I think this film is much better than this first teaser trailer is making it out to be. I think Weta is holding back on all of the good story footage, we just got an early look with this and that's it for now. I liked what I saw, but I still really want to see more. That said, I'm looking forward to this. But it's definitely no Happening by any means!

  • Ryan | April 14, 2011 1:12 AMReply

    It doesn't look good, but at least it's apes terrorizing people instead of the Happening where it was...air, right?

  • Mark | April 14, 2011 1:12 AMReply

    '“Slumdog Millionaire” star Frieda Pinto either playing Franco’s girlfriend, or the literal manifestation of his conscience.'

    LOL

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