Monday, September 5, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Costume and make-up design has always been one of my passions. I have also been a huge fan of science fiction. So when I heard The Rise of the Planet of the Apes "prequel"movie was coming out this summer, I was quite excited... until I learned there were no actual animals on set since they were all animated.

Now from a movie-maker's standpoint I completely understand why this decision was made. First of all animals are difficult to work with on a set, so having over 100 apes running free would probably be a huge liability. Second of all, trying to get the proper emotion from an animal that doesn't necessarily speak English can't be the easiest job. Now even if they didn't use apes but instead humans, like in the 1968 and 2011 movies, the production company would have to pay for all of the make-up and costume materials as well as the actors themselves. Plus, rather than just having a make-up or costume designer, you would have to pay for someone on set to manually create the cast of 100 apes. So, CG animation it is.

My issue is, while CG has come quite far in its development, I'm not sure if I would rather have a man in a monkey suit that looks physically stable, than a creature who may have the proper dimensions of an ape, but looks like a computer-generated hologram.

However, after experiencing the character development of Caesar, I realize that the acting done by Andy Serkis and the rest of the cast would not have been nearly as effective if he were physically restricted by an ape-suit. With CG, Andy Serkis was able to fully explore his body movements, since he could move around with greater ease, and show a variety of emotions that wouldn't have been possible if he had latex put on his face. Having a background in make-up, I must say that the spirit gum and mask required would have lowered his ability to move his cheeks, lips, and eyes, resulting in a weaker performance and personification of Caesar.

With the technology used to create the movie, the actors had greater control over their body and faces, which allowed them to further the character development necessary for the plot of this film. So while others who may be aesthetically displeased with CG like me, we need to remember that story telling is the most important element in our industry, and so long as we continue to advance our production quality but follow through with the plot, films should continue to amaze and astound the audience.

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