Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Inside Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Will Rodman's (James Franco) pharmacological experiments with chimps leads to the birth of an animal with far superior intelligence and sense of self. As Caesar learns about the world and the inherent evils therein, he sees this isn't a very pleasant place for a being like him. He must make difficult choices to survive and eventually become a leader.

Joe Letteri, Senior VFX Supervisor states clearly that Caesar had to be a real chimp but we also have to see the evolution. He starts out as this happy little animal and as he grows he comes to wonder why he is different than the others and seeks to find his place in the world. Eventually this leads him to his role as a leader. The chimps need to be very life like, but be able to convey the deep drama of the story.

Andy Serkis takes on the daunting task of playing Caesar. After tackling roles like Gollem in Lord of the Rings and King King himself, this should have been a no-brainer! Serkis says this was his most challenging role to date. He remaked that it is one thing to play a chimp but another to play through the evolution of this animal with a father figure in James Franco. "It wasn't just doing the movements that feel like ape movements. He's an Ape plus!" Serkis' Caesar is based on a real chimp names Oliver who many believed may have been a cross between a human and a chimp. There was just something profoundly different about him and people could tell.

For WETA, "Rise" is a huge expansion from a film like King Kong. It's a complex set of problems to overcome from an acting and FX standpoint all at once. Serkis explains " The WOWS aren't in your face." He explains saying the realism in the emotional truth of the content has a far greater impact than any over the top set piece. "This doesn't feel like a visual effects film at all!"

As a fan of the original films, I'm at once insanely excited to see my heroes at WETA taking on the topic but still, a little wary. WETA got very caught up in the emotional content in King Kong and while the result was visually breathtaking, the result with a bit mellow dramatic. Does the movie going public want to see a modern Kong rampaging through the city streets, real as life and twice as terrifying or do they want to explore the gentle side of this great beast as he plays on the ice with his lady love? On that same note, do fans of the franchise want to see a very cerebral take on the ape Caesar discovering the evils of man before finally leading his monkey army against them? We've certainly seen the gonzo, action driven version. Now we'll get the other side. One thing is certain. If ANYONE can make us feel for a chimp, it's WETA and Andy Serkis.

Hit us back tomorrow when the full trailer premieres! You can watch the full interview and see new footage RIGHT NOW by CLICKING HERE!!

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