The Art Of The Films: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes And Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes by Matt Hurwitz (book review).

I’ve been really somewhat amiss at catching up on the latest batch of ‘Planet Of The Apes’ films mostly because I thought these latest two were showing the rise of the apes on Earth that Leo Davidson met on his return to Earth in the Tim Burton version in 2001. So right now, I’m having a crash-course and catching up this month. What better way than to see behind the scenes of these films in this book, ‘The Art Of The Films: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes And Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes’where the talented Andy Serkis is shown enacting the part of Caesar as he grows to maturity and their assertion of rule. Oddly, this is the main take from the Arthur P. Jacobs films than that taken from Pierre Boulle’s original novel, ‘Monkey Planet’. The apes don’t really wear clothes and look more like apes than the original films as well but such is the capabilities of budget.


If you’re buying this book thinking you’ll see a lot of the CGI apes, then you’re likely to be disappointed as much of the time you’ll be seeing the ape cast in their motion follow suits with assorted spots that would later turn them into the final apes. If anything, I wish that author Matt Hurwitz had thought to include a photograph showing what all the different gear they were wearing does. It isn’t until the introduction of the second film that there’s an explanation for one of the head extensions which I originally thought was as a microphone or the size of the ape head but was really a close-up camera so the facial fine details could be taken. Likewise, it would have also been handy to have seen at least a few photographs showing the transition from actor to ape to put things into perspective which is what New Zealand special effects firm WETA is all about and I would have classified as being part of the art of the film. A few years ago, most special effects companies would have sweated over getting hair and fur CGI to look realistic and when you consider how much of it is needed to make these Ape films work, you have to admire how well they do it now.

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I should point out that this book is loaded with photographs and paintings in pre-production showing all the work that was done towards making these two films. I got the gist of the stories but neither section is actually designed for a blow-by-blow of events nor any explanation why there was a move from Vancouver to New Orleans.

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As usual with all these ‘Art Of-‘ film books, you do get the opportunity to see in detail the work these companies do in bringing scenes and characters to life. If anything, the scene artists work is brought ever closer to what will end up looking like the final filmed product which must surely help sell any film at the production stage in getting finance.

GF Willmetts

July 2013

(pub: Titan Books. 176 page illustrated large oblong hardback. Price: £24.99 (UK), $34.95 (US), $38.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78329-197-7)

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