Saturday August 13, 2011

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Director: Rupert Wyatt)

Posted by Karthik

Now that the whole world has written about Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, let me simply say I loved it. It is perfect popcorn material and is thoroughly enjoyable despite its little quirks of stupidity at times. I’d like to point to just two things in the context of the film.

One, I feel one of the many tricks of making a successful movie is to infuse intelligence into those things from whom we audience expect intelligence the least. When I say intelligence, it needs to be an obvious show of thinking skills, usually manifested in outmaneuvering an antagonist in the most crowd-pleasing variety.

The reverse works too; when the villain is shown to be highly intelligent (not intelligent to vanquish the hero in the climax, though) and gives a solid run for the hero’s money. South Indian cinema had adopted this technique a few years ago and since then there’s been an overdose of the same. I clearly remember being impressed with this subtle change in films like Dharani’s Dil and Dhool. Lingusamy used this too, to a lesser extent, in films like Run. I’m sure there were Telugu films along the same time period that displayed this trend.

Shockingly, there were some Vijaykanth films that demonstrated mild strains of this technique – even a simple scene where the hero comes prepared to counter-threaten the villain is a good example of this trend. Imagine – earlier the villain, in his den, used to threaten dire consequences on the heroine’s chastity even as his flunkies hold a supremely annoyed hero in chains. And all that the hero used to respond with was growls and grunts arising out of helplessness. The tide changed when the hero came prepared for such a situation and offered the seemingly intelligent counter-threat which used to go something along these lines, “Hey villain rascala, do you know where your standard 4 studying son is, now?”

You see, it takes a lot more intelligence to cook such scenes where some character is shown to be intelligent. That’s the director’s and script writer’s task. Now, this trend has been done to death and the audience has started getting tired of the endless loop of ‘intelligent’ cat and mouse game between 2 characters on screen. Strangely, Hindi cinema is getting into the act late, that too, only through remakes of South Indian cinema. In this context, one of the reasons why the new Apes film works is because it infuses intelligence into the animal and shows it off in style. The scene on the Golden Gate bridge where the apes heed to their leader’s strategy and plan the synchronized attack is what I’m talking about. Usually, such scenes act as show-stoppers and buffer the rest of the movie’s sloppiness to create a larger impression.

The second point I wanted to make was about Frieda Pinto. Awesome jawline and an opportunity to play a non-specified Asian in a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster aside, I’m sure it may feel bad to be overshadowed by an animal (technically, Andy Serkis, the hero of the film). If this was a Hindi film, she may have the same number of dialogs but at least also have three dream songs (one, when she first meets Franco and shortly after treating the young, injured Caesar; two, before they start kissing in Redwoods even as the now-grown up Caesar comes down from the tall tree and three, a generic sad duet to demonstrate how Franco is more besotted with Caesar then her, before the final showdown) and perhaps one item song (may be to go with the end credits) to increase perpetual visibility on television channels. Sad.

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