Last night I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes and I was blown away. The film is very good, but what is truly amazing and special about it is the WETA-created FX work. There are no real apes in this film. There are no people wearing furry suits. There are just actors in performance capture suits being transformed into apes by the wizards in New Zealand.
And more than transformed into apes they are made into characters. This film is filled with next-level FX work, stuff that launches off of what was done in Avatar and goes fully beyond. Not every shot in the movie is perfectly executed, and photoreal is a loaded term (we’re all smart enough at this point to be able to parse out when we’re looking at FX) but the apes in this film live and breathe and are approachable as fully emotionally invested characters, thanks to the actors and the FX. And Serkis as Caesar… it’s a mind-bendingly good performance, rendered almost totally through a digitized version of his face. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a movie filled with great, exciting moments, but the most exciting bits may simply be watching a great performance being brought to us using this technology.
There’s talk already of Serkis as a Supporting Actor nominee, but I think that Rise simply must win FX at the next Oscars.