Trees of Life
by Vadim Rizov
The first image in Rise of the Planet of the Apes is surprising for what it lacks, and we're not talking about F/X innovations or original ideas: it's a simple helicopter shot of a jungle, followed by dissolves closer to the forest floor. It's a recognizably green and sunny forest—not a mess of computer foliage, color-corrected to some sickly monochrome with digital haze floating around it. For a movie that relies heavily on unnatural-looking CGI animals (you get used to it fast), director Rupert Wyatt's new entry in the four-decades-and-running franchise scorns the fuzzy fake landscapes of Hollywood's loudest movies; much of the time, we're obviously looking at real buildings and locations, which balances out the chimp fakery. Two cars on fire are as real as metal and gasoline at the climax, and it's positively retro.