Editor's Note: Ad Fidelity is a new movie review feature that compares the core elements of a movie's marketing campaign with the reality of what's on screen. The purpose is to show whether or not a movie lives up to the promises of its advertising and to shed light on a movie's potential long-term playability.
20th Century Fox's marketing for Rise of the Planet of the Apes has focused on a climactic battle through San Francisco, a sci-fi cautionary tale and state-of-the-art visual effects. Here's how the reality of the final product stacks up against this marketing:
Marketing: Evolution becomes revolution, with an action-packed ape-led revolt taking place on the streets of San Francisco and on the Golden Gate Bridge representing a major portion of the movie. Reality: While there's been a lot of emphasis placed on the apes vs. humans battle, it really only takes place over the last 20 minutes or so of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Also, without giving too much away, the reasons behind the revolution and the ultimate conclusion are far more nuanced than what's being presented. In this way, at least, the marketing has been a bit misleading. Marketing: The movie serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of pushing the boundaries of science at the expense of the experiment's subjects (the apes). Reality: The movie does ultimately take a negative stance towards aggressive scientific trials as well as the "imprisonment" of apes (PETA even gave it an award). That's secondary, though, to the relationship between the ape Caesar and his creator-of-sorts, played by James Franco. In fact, the first two-thirds of Rise of the Planet of the Apes is basically a character drama, which is highlighted in the trailers though largely ignored in the commercials. Marketing:Rise of the Planet of the Apes utilizes WETA Digital's state-of-the-art visual effects to bring the apes to life. Reality: The marketing is very accurate here. The ape effects, particularly those used for the main character Caesar, are nearly on par with the effects in Avatar. In fact, they could even be more impressive, considering the apes need to exist in the real world while the Na'vi were on a computer-generated planet. Box Office Implications:Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a more contemplative, character-driven movie than it's action-packed marketing suggests, which may mute returns from adrenaline-seeking moviegoers but should be seen as a welcome respite for those tired of the more traditional summer blockbusters. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was screened at the Zanuck Theater on 20th Century Fox's studio lot in Century City on Tuesday, Aug. 2. The crowd seemed engaged throughout, though there were scattered unintentional laughs at some of the more audacious moments.