Andy Serkis’ work in Rise of the Planet of the Apes locks his position amongst legendary ‘monster’ actors such as Lon Chaney, Sr, Lon Chaney, Jr. and Boris Karloff. That might not seem to be the greatest compliment at first; that roster of actors shouldn’t be marginalized so. I think all would bristle at being considered as performers we take seriously only when they work behind makeup and prosthetics or their digital equivalents.
The fact, however, is that Andy Serkis’ best work has been done in conjunction with groundbreaking washes of pixels. Beginning with his portrayal of Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, continuing on through Peter Jackson’s King Kong and now culminating with Caesar, the ape at the center of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the partnership between the actor and effects house WETA has done far more than most to advance the idea of what the nature of screen acting really is.
Serkis and WETA lend Caesar a moving depth of personality that goes beyond the bounds we’re accustomed to seeing in non-human characters. And, as many of his interactions with the other simian characters are necessarily devoid of dialogue, the film displays a spirit that cuts closer to pure cinema than I expect from the seventh film in the 40-year old franchise. Read More »