Man behind Gollum goes ape for new movie

MOVIEGOERS who marvelled at Andy Serkis’ extraordinary performance as Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and Kong in King Kong, will be thrilled at his role in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

In his latest effort, Serkis infuses Caesar the ape with nuance, soul, wisdom and heart.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an origin story in the truest sense. Set in present-day San Francisco, the film is a cautionary tale, a science fiction/science fact blend, where man’s experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.

It is the first live-action film in the history of movies to star, and be told from the point of view of, a sentient animal – a character with human-like qualities, who can strategise, organise and ultimately lead a revolution, and with whom audiences will experience a real emotional bond. The film was impossible to make until the technology invented for Avatar, and now advanced to a new dimension, caught up to the idea behind the movie.

Will Rodman, played by 127 Hours star James Franco, is a scientist conducting genetic research to develop a benign virus that restores damaged human brain tissue.

He is committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s, a disease afflicting his father.

"Will is a cold, isolated person," Franco explains.

"Most of his energy is directed towards his work. His father, Charles, is suffering from dementia so he moves into his father’s house to take care of him. Being a caregiver is a role Will has never had to perform before."

Before human trials of a promising and potentially lucrative new drug, Will’s simian test subjects suddenly display bizarrely aggressive behaviour.

Management deems the research a failure and Will must shut down his program. He finds himself in charge of a newborn male chimpanzee, the orphaned offspring of his most promising test subject. This young chimp, destined for greatness, is named Caesar.

Much like the original Planet of the Apes, the new film uses the science fiction genre to explore bigger worlds and ideas.

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes is about our civilisation reaching a point of no return," says director Rupert Wyatt.

"Events unfold through the eyes of Caesar, a super-intelligent chimpanzee who at a young age sees humans as being capable of wonderful things, like art and reason. And then he begins to see humanity’s dark side – oppression, bigotry, and the ostracising of what and who we don’t understand."

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