RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is the first live-action film in the history of movies to star, and be told from the point of view of, a sentient animal — a character with human-like qualities, who can strategize, organize and ultimately lead a revolution, and with whom audiences will experience a real emotional bond. The film was impossible to make until the technology, invented for Avatar and now advanced to a new dimension, caught up to the idea behind the movie. The groundbreaking work of Oscar-winning visual effects house Weta Digital allows audiences to emotionally engage with a lead character, a chimpanzee named Caesar, who does not actually exist.
This work is complemented by the unique and extraordinary achievements of Andy Serkis, the world’s foremost performance capture actor, who infuses Caesar with nuance, soul, wisdom and heart.
Another historic accomplishment for the picture was its filming of visual effects and performance capture work on practical locations outside the controlled environment of an enclosed stage. This allowed the performance capture work to be fully integrated with the live action performances — eliminating the barrier between visual effects and live action.
In addition to presenting emotionally-engaging photo-realistic apes, the film’s setting is instantly recognizable and relatable. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is an origin story in the truest sense of the term. Set in present day San Francisco, the film is a reality-based cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man’s experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.
HEY! IT COULD HAPPEN – Watch this short film about Idi-Amin’s trained killer chimps:
“This is a contemporary view of the Planet of the Apes mythology,” says producer Dylan Clark. “It’s a big event movie, but is anchored by the quality of its storytelling, its emotion, and the depth of its characters. At its heart, it’s a character-driven piece.”
The film’s emotional core was a principal draw for the actors, including John Lithgow. “It’s very unusual to have a big science fiction film with a foundation in human emotion and conflict,” says the Oscar nominated actor. “I was amazed by the script’s emotional authenticity. This film takes audiences’ expectations and turns them on their head.”
Much like its storied predecessor, the original Planet of the Apes, the new film uses the science fiction genre to explore bigger worlds and ideas. “RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is about our civilization reaching a point of no return,” says director Rupert Wyatt. “Events unfold through the eyes of Caesar, a super-intelligent chimpanzee who at a young age sees humans as being capable of wonderful things, like art and reason. And then he begins to see humanity’s dark side – oppression, bigotry, and the ostracizing of what and who we don’t understand.”
Another key theme is humanity’s hubris – our arrogance in thinking that we can twist, push, cheat, or circumvent the laws of nature, without consequences. “In the original Planet of the Apes, it was man’s hubris that got the character of Col. Taylor [portrayed by Charlton Heston] on that beach, facing the Statue of Liberty and the stunning reality of humanity’s destiny,” writer-producer Rick Jaffa points out. “It wasn’t a quirk of fate or a mutation that that led to that upside-down world.” So, too, does RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES pit humans against nature – and against themselves – leading to a resolution that sees humans and apes on the path that will take them to a new and shocking world order.