The other day, I finally got off my butt and watched Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Actually, it would probably be more accurate to say "I finally sat on my butt and watched..." Hindsight's 20/20.
I loved it. Beautiful written and realized action movie. Both Dawn and its predecessor Rise of the Planet of the Apes are such amazing films. Great graphics, story, acting, and they have a lot of heart.
But, like most critics, what blew me away most was the performance by Andy Serkis as Caesar the ape. This is one of those motion capture roles where Serkis wore one of those sensor-covered suits and every action of his body from walks and leaps to the smallest motions like a lip twitch or eyebrow raise are captured by computers. This captured footage is then converted so it looks not so much like a man in a sensor-covered suit, but a giant ape.
The results are astounding.
And I'd like to take a moment to say that I really hope the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) realizes that what he's doing is still acting since motion capture is not really the same thing as computer generated imagery (CGI), which really doesn't need an actor/actress, and recognize him for it with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture.
Caesar would not be the same without Serkis. This is evident based on the fact that each of the main apes is portrayed in motion capture by a different actor and none give the same range of emotion and visceral power as Serkis' Caesar. Nick Thurston as Blue Eyes? Toby Kebbell as Koba? Karin Konoval as Maurice? Judy Greer as Cornelia? Not that all these actors didn't do a fine job. It's just that no one did as fine a job as Serkis.
To me, this is no different than when an actor dons heavy makeup and prosthetics for a role. Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie? Roddy McDowall as Cornelius in the original Planet of the Apes? Eric Stoltz as Rocky Dennis in Mask? As far as I'm concerned, motion capture is the same thing. The actor just doesn't have to sit in a makeup trailer for hours before and after a day of shooting.
Please, Academy, give Serkis serious consideration. And not some cheesy Special Achievement award. He should get a full-on Best Actor nod.
Do the right thing, ladies and gentlemen.