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Rise of the Planet of the Apes is following the example of Avatar and using motion capture in the majority of the film. Instead of using all CGI apes, the director Rupert Wyatt wanted to use physical actors such as Andy Serkis (Gollum in the Lord of the Rings series). Using Weta Digital, the special effects company responsible for Avatar, and King Kong will be an interesting movie to see when it releases on August 5, 2011.
I was sitting in the theatre watching the trailers when I heard the thump of a bass drum ring in my ears. That is how the trailer to the prequel to Planet of the Apes started. Watching the rest of the trailer I began to sink lower and lower in my chair. I thought to myself, “not a prequel to Planet of the Apes! The 2000 series was bad enough!” When the trailer finished I did not have any interest of seeing the movie let alone another trailer.
However, when I looked deeper it spurred my interest in finding out more. The movie is about a chimpanzee named Ceasar. James franco’s character experiments on Caesar using a drug that is supposed to cure Alzheimer’s. The chimp’s intellect grows until he has surpassed the intelligence of a human. James Franco’s character has shown Ceasar the good side of humanity but when he has to give Ceasar up to another lab, Ceasar sees the evil inside humanity. Freeing himself, he releases all the apes in cages and starts a revolution to overthrow the humans.
Rise is going for the gold with motion capture. They did not want to use CGI apes in fear of them looking, unrealistic, and they did not want to use real chimpanzees for obvious reasons. So, they opted for motion capture.
On set, actors were put in motion capture suits and moved around as if they were chimps. Andy Serkis gave an interview for Collider.com saying, “…its an entirely different role for us because chimpanzees move entirely different…[we have to watch] the time, the weight, the mindset and the rhythm of the orangutans and the chimps.”
If there is one effects company that can pull off making grown men in leotards look like real live chimps, its Weta Production, though it may be a daunting task. There are multiple shots with more than a dozen of chimps on screen but looking at some of the stills, you could not tell that it was actually a man standing there. What is also new is the use of facial feature cameras, which are cameras are attached to rigs on the actor’s head. It then captures the movements of the face in order to be used as motion capture in post-production.
Rupert Wyatt came into the spotlight with The Escapist, a movie about an escape attempt from jail. Wyatt was made director of Rise because Brian Cox (Braveheart) had highly recommended his visual style to the producer, Peter Chernin. The direction will be interesting to see but the main focal point will be the acting of Andy Serkis, and the work of Terry Notary (cheographer of motion capture on Avatar). Terry Notary will also act alongside Serkis and with his previous work with the recent Planet of the Apes, he should have the chimp movement down to a science.
At first glance, this movie does not seem to impress but once you go deeper into the process of it, it seems like this movie does have some redeeming qualities to it. The physical acting of Serkis, and Notary should be entertaining, as well as what Weta does with the special effects. This movie might not go down in the books along side the classics but it will be intriguing to see if Rise can create a better movie than the 2000s remakes.