I don’t mean to be facetious with this comparison, but watching the simians in Rise of the Planet of the Apes break out of captivity and go on the rampage through the streets of San Fransisco brought to mind this CCTV footage released by Avon & Somerset Police of a group of feral youths smash their way into a jewellery store in Cabot Circus in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The Rise of the Planet of the Apes shows what happens when apes are taken out of their natural habitat and, following one particular ape by the name of Caesar, attempted to be integrated into human society, with disastrous consequences.
This is the opposite of what we witnessed in Bristol and in other cities across the country this week, when gangs showed animalistic tendencies as they roamed the streets looking for police to fight, fires to burn, shops to loot, and innocent bystanders to rob and worse.
While the Cabot Circus jewellery robbery was filmed in grainy black and white CCTV, The Rise of the Planet Apes features some of the most glorious computer animation I have yet seen, and it is here that my comparison to the Bristol riots and this prequel to the popular science fiction franchise will end.
Andy Serkis (who gave a masterclass at last year’s Encounters Bristol International Film Festival) is the go-to guy for motion capture, and he plays Caesar in the film, putting his face and body language to portray the complex Caesar with superb affect, as he has done before with Gollum in Lord of the Rings and that slightly larger monkey, King Kong.
Caesar is an ape who as a baby is brought into the family home of a scientist (James Franco) who was looking to find a cure for Alzheimer’s and tested the baby’s mother. Caesar has inherited a powerful gene which makes him super-intelligent, but after reverting to a more traditional animal he is sent to a primate facility and it is here where he meets other animals for the first time and plots their escape.
Meanwhile, the virus that makes animals like Caesar show remarkable capabilities proves deadly to humans, and there is a hint that this film directed by Devonian Rupert Wyatt is to be the first in a new franchise.
The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an old-fashioned disaster movie with new fashioned values and special effects. It was one of the best experiences I have had at the cinema this year, despite it bringing to mind the ugly scenes in Bristol this week.
The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is released today in cinemas across Bristol.