RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES: A Rupert Wyatt/20th Century Fox Film

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RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, a frighteningly credible, captivating adventure, previewed recently for members of the press at the Zanuck Theater on the 20th Century Fox Studio Lot in Culver City, California.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, a Chernin Entertainment/ Ingenious Media production,     produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffe and Amada Silver and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Rupert Wyatt stars James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo and Andy Serkis as Caesar.

Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon of WETA Digital, the OSCAR winning special effects masters behind AVATAR, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and District 9, created in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES an army of primates terrifyingly credible and astonishing in their realism.

The premise behind RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES centers of course on the rise of the apes. It begins with a high believable storyline, an authenticity thread, which remains throughout the better part of the film.

John Lithgow stars as Charles Rodman, an Alzheimer patient whose mental capabilities are deteriorating as the disease ravages his mind. His, son, Will Rodman, played by OSCAR nominee, John Franco, does what any son/child would do and has the means; he exhausts himself and his wherewithal to save his father.

In this case, as Will Rodman is a genetic scientist, who has spent five years testing an Alzheimer drug on Chimpanzees, he human tests the drug that he has been awaiting human testing trial approval on his father. 

The initial Chimpanzee testing ended badly and Will Rodman is faced with a life changing decision: euthanize the newborn chimpanzee or disobey direct orders and save his life.   He opts to save Caesar, portrayed brilliantly by Andy Serkis, and the primate is then raised in a controlled family environment. He is tamed, taught and treated as a child. He is a member of the family.

Eventually, the inevitable occurs and Caesar reverts to his primate roots as his “family” comes under attack. He is sent to a facility, which promises to be a sanctuary.  It is here that he returns to his natural habitat and encounters the same behavioral struggles one can witness in a prison yard.

With the advances in modern medicine and the hope and desire that one day a cure for Alzheimer’s will be found it’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe that primates would be used first as evolutionists believe that we evolved from the species.

Selected members of the media were invited by 20th Century Fox and Director Rupert Wyatt, last September, to visit the RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES set at Mammoth Studios in Vancouver, BC and were treated to a set tour and the opportunity to sit on the set during the final stages of filming.

Our tour began with The San Bruno Ape Sanctuary and Atrium Set which we were told we were seeing the last of before they gave go ahead to strike the set. Meticulous prop and product placement in The San Bruno Ape Sanctuary office produced a moment of déjà vu from my years in the Wall Street jungle. 

Watching the actors create the troop of primates was fascinating. The Shrewdness is created from the actors, Andy Serkis, Devyn Dalton, Karin Konoval and Terry Notary, wearing Motion Capture suits by WETA Digital’s CG effects.

The talent moved effortlessly across the sound stage, hunched over with crutches that produced  arm extensions creating the visual effect necessary for the WETA Digital’s CG effects to build believable primate appearances, as the scene we we’re watching them film was of a group of primates running down a fifteen foot ramp.

Having been a participant on the set visit during the filming of the bridge scene and seeing it actualized created deep appreciation for movie making. The actors, in CG suits were simply crossing playground monkey bars, as the split screen effect showed a crude bridge and primate.

The next scenes were of the primate’s finally experiencing freedom. The replay screens were quartered with each unit showing a different aspect: one with the actual talent, viewed as seen, the other with manual CG effects, one a blue screen and the fourth different camera angles.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES mixes fantasy and fiction to create stunning realism! Rupert Wyatt and WETA’s Joe Letteri have created cinematic genius!

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES opens everywhere August 5, 2011.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES official website: www.riseoftheplanetoftheapes.com

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES official Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ApesWillRise


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