The Rise of the Invisible Actor | The Velvet Café

planetIt seems as if my memory capacity has hit the roof. My brain cells are dying off. I don’t want to know how exactly how quickly to be honest, so if you know the numbers, please refrain from telling me.

The situation is clear enough as it is. For every new book I read, an old one vanishes from my memory; for every journey I make, the details from one in the past will evade until all I remember are what’s been captured in photos, and whenever I see a new movie, I’m condemning one that I saw twenty years ago to eternal oblivion as the last recollections I had from it will slip my mind. I suppose I should think more carefully about what movies I watch these days. Do I really want them to replace the ones I have stored in my head?

The original Planet of the Apes is one of those movies I’ve already lost somewhere on the way. I know what it’s about, but I can’t recall a thing about it.

Friday night entertainment
Knitting to the plot of Rise of the Planet of Apes, where research for a cure for Alzheimer goes very wrong, I decided to approach the write-up about this movie with a question:

Let’s assume that it’s 2031 and that I’m still hooked to movies. If someone asks me about Rise of the Planet of the Apes, what will I remember of it?

The answer will of course be pure speculation, but I think it’s safe to say that this isn’t going to become one of those movies you keep coming back to, an essential watching and a Pillar of Film history. It’s not that kind of a movie. It’s a blockbuster, but a very good one, which I’m happy to see high on the charts of profit generation.

It’s the kind of movie you want to see a late Friday night when you’re exhausted after a stressful day at work and can’t be bothered with intricate psychological portraits that can be interpreted on a thousand different levels. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s one of my basic needs, the butter-and-bread of movies. You’re entertained as long as it lasts but it’s won’t change your view on life and it probably won’t be sticky.

In 20 years time I’m pretty sure most of this will have been cleared out of my memory, making place for new stuff.

What I will remember
I think I will remember two things. One is a line, probably one of the the shortest in film history. It consists of one word: “NO”. The way it was delivered made me so enthusiastic and thrilled that I had to resist an impulse to run to my feet and cheer. If you’re one of those who have trouble saying “no” to requests – watch and learn! The world would be a better place with more noes like that.

My second lingering memory will be the central character, the ape Caesar.  Everyone else – including James Franco in the leading human role, are pale in comparison: generic and forgettable. Palest of them all is the girlfriend, who not only lacks any purpose apart from being pretty, but also is the ONLY female character in the movie. However I think I’ll save the “did-an-alien-abduct-all-female-actors-or-wtf-is-going-on?” rant for another day, so let’s go back to Caesar.

It’s just amazing to see what they can do these days with a character that strictly speaking only exists in the virtual world, a massive amount of 1:s and 0:s. It’s not just that the programmers and artists or mathematicians or whoever create those CGI effects (I have no idea, I’m just guessing) are technically skilled – they’ve also managed to combine it with the depth that only a real flesh-and blood actor can provide.

Once again Andy Serkis has put on a special computer connected suit, like he did when he made Gollum come alive. And once again he brings life into this imagined creature. I had no idea what came from the computer programs and what came from Serkis. It’s seamless and very convincing.

Behold the Rise of the Invisible Actor.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Wyatt, US, 2011) My rating: 4/5

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