1. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Stars: James Franco, Freida Pinto, Andy Serkis, Tom Felton, Brain Cox, John Lithgow
Back in April, before the summer movie season officially jumped off, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was little more than a seemingly unnecessary blip on moviegoers’ radars; shit, we nearly left it off of our most anticipated summer movies list. Can you blame us? All signs pointed to something akin to this summer’s Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. James Franco stars as an esteemed scientist? It’s a dreaded “reboot” of a franchise that’s already been abused no thanks to Tim Burton’s underwhelming 2001 remake Planet Of The Apes? It was nearly impossible to expect anything great.
Well, just call Andy Serkis’ Hollywood’s own real-life Ethan Hunt. In all of his performance capture glory, the chameleon-like British actor delivers arguably the year’s most emotionally rich performance, turning the house-trained chimp Caesar into a multidimensional, heartbreaking, and, as the film progresses, forcefully dominant character that almost single-handedly upgrades Rise into an A-plus echelon. Serkis received notable help from director Rupert Wyatt, who's no slouch with grandiose action (the Golden Gate Bridge climax is a triumph) or ape-driven drama.
Come February, when Eddie Murphy is announcing Academy Awards presenters, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes will most likely only wrangle up nods in the effects categories, but it’ll be a damn shame. The year’s nowhere near over, but, as it stands today, no one’s given a more dynamic and powerful performance all year than Serkis’ work as Caesar. If you don’t think so, go suck on a banana, hater.