Category Archives: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Published August 11, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
Hail Caesar! Andy Serkis’s motion-capture performance as the chimpanzee Caesar in the mostly Vancouver-filmed Rise of the Planet of the Apes is nothing short of astonishing. I am now kicking myself for not stumbling on to any of the Apes location shoots last summer, especially the one on Hornby Street of digital apes scrambling down the marble facade of the YWCA Health & Fitness Centre, which happens to be my gym. That’ll teach me not to skip a workout.
Filming of Rise of the Apes began here in July last year before moving onto to San Francisco and Hawaii. When you catch this reboot of the Planet of the Apes franchise in theatres you’ll see it does make for a decent game of spot the location. I didn’t do well, getting caught up in the story and forgetting to look for Vancouver area locations. A friend recognized the home of scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) and his Alzheimer-addled father Charles (John Lithgow) as a heritage house up behind the Mountain Equipment Co-op Store on Broadway. Crew filmed on that street for two weeks and recreated the interior of the house for more scenes in studio. This is the house where young Caesar grows up and Andy Serkis honoured the home owners by introducing himself to them.
I did spot the BCIT Aerospace and Technology Campus in Richmond in some of the exterior scenes of GEN-SYS, the lab where Will Rodman is using apes as test subjects to develop a cure for his father’s Alzheimers. And the Hornby Street location of apes rampaging through San Francisco after their escape from their “Ape Alcatraz” animal shelter, proved instantly recognizable, although I missed the anomoly of Canada Place in one of the camera shots looking north down to Burrard Inlet.
As for the climatic showdown of apes and men on the Golden Gate Bridge, most of it was filmed here with greenscreens on the huge gravel field at Kent and Boundary near the Fraser River path. Background performer Thomas C. Andrews tweeted to tell me of the five days he spent last summer running scared on that gravel, playing one of the many pedestrians/motorists trapped on the bridge. I don’t know how many days in total it took to film all the sequences in that showdown but here’s where I got lucky. Rise of the Planet of the Apes returned to Vancouver this spring to do some reshoots ahead of the movie’s opening this month. I photographed the greenscreens, Highway Patrol cars, the extras playing Highway Patrol officers and three of the stop-motion apes (see below). None of them look like Andy Serkis, but these three performers could have played some of the other lead apes, such as the chimp Koba and gorilla Buck.
Unlike the other Planet of the Apes movies, the apes in this one are not actors in makeup. Peter Jackson’s Weta Digtial created them digitally using time motion capture, which is what the orange square markings are for. From a distance I watched one of the men playing an ape bend over simian-style and scamper along the ground with his crutches.
Published July 21, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome
How’s this for Comic-Con craziness? Twihards starting lining up outside the San Diego Convention Center three days early (on Monday) to be among the six thousand lucky enough to get into The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 1 panel in Hall H, which took place just before lunchtime today. Breaking Dawn 1 was the first panel in Hall H so that Twihards couldn’t ruin Comic-Con like they usually do. What’s even more crazy? That the vampires and werewolves of the mainly Vancouver-shot Breaking Dawn 1 aren’t the most popular panel of the hundreds at Comic-Con 2011. Not even close. That honour belongs to the zombies of AMC TV series The Walking Dead.
Breaking Dawn 1 isn’t even among the most popular of Vancouver-filmed movies and TV series at Comic-Con, which has become less about big movies and more about cult television series in recent years. Locally-shot TV series Pscyh cracked the Top 25 most popular panels and Fringe, Eureka, Supernatural and Alcatraz are all in the Top 50. Breaking Dawn 1 and Underworld Awakening (the fourth in the movie franchise but only the third to star Kate Beckinsale and her vampire cat suit) barely made the Top 50 cut.
Psych presented today to standing-room-only, people-turned-away capacity, with Psych-os either dressed as pineapples or carrying them. Apparently series star James Roday (seen above directing a vampire-themed episode) improvised with a pineapple in the show’s premiere and there’s been one hidden in every episode since. Nominally a detective series, Psych knows how to play to a Comic-Con crowd, with several episodes in its sixth season (now filming in Vancouver) crossing over into genre stuff like vampires, super heroes and Star Trek. In a real casting coup, the original Captain Kirk — William Shatner — plays the father of one of the main cast in an episode filmed