RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is a reboot/prequel movie set before the events of any Planet of the Apes film and tells the story of how these furry little creatures got in a position to take over the world. No previous knowledge of past films is required because this remake serves as a fresh new start for the franchise and gives the audience a new jumping on point. A wise decision by the creators because it will not offend any longtime fans and is set during a part of the franchise timeline we have never visited before. I do understand that a lot of you out there are not going to take this movie seriously because of the subject matter and the reputation the older movies have for being extra cheesy. If you go into this movie trying to find things to make fun of I guess you will but I urge you to take this movie seriously because it is a damn fine film. There are a handful of awesome and powerful moments in this film that the audience laughed at because it involved apes doing intelligent things. I highly recommend coming into this movie with the mind frame of taking it seriously. Do that and you will discover a fun and well made film that ranks high atop my list for the best movies of the summer and the year so far.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is directed by relative unknown Rupert Wyatt (THE ESCAPIST) and stars James Franco (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) along with a huge cast of completely CGI apes. This is the origins story for the franchise and is set in current day San Francisco. Mankind is experimenting with genetic engineering aimed at bettering themselves by testing on apes. The experiments lead to the development of extremely high levels of intelligence in the apes that were tested and their offspring. The result leads to an uprising from the apes as they learn to master their new found intelligence and initiate the war for supremacy over the planet.
The first thing I HAVE to talk about when it comes to the cast is the superb use of CGI for the apes in this film. They are truly the stars here and these characters are some the best use of CGI I have seen in a film ever. The amount of emotion and detail we get from these apes is second to none for a CGI character. This is some seriously cool and powerful stuff! The star of this film is an ape named Caesar who is motion captured by the talented Andy Serkis who you may recognize as Gollum from THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy among other things. His performance paired with the talented staff at WETA Special Effects creates one of the coolest CGI characters in film history that is full of emotion and extreme detail. Besides Caesar, there is a very large cast of apes that are all equally impressive and watching all of them evolve is fascinating and often eerie. This is the future of CGI technology.
While the apes are the stars of the show, the human cast is not so bad either even though they take a back seat to the fantastic CGI apes. James Franco does a fine job here as doctor Will Rodman who is the loving father figure to Caesar and the doctor who comes up with the medicine to enhance the apes intelligence. His screen presence seems somewhat minimal here but he does play the character he is given very well. Other supporting characters include Freida Pinto (IMMORTALS) as the main human love interest, John Lithgow (DEXTER) as John’s father who has Alzheimer’s disease, Brain Cox (TROY) as John Landon who owns an unruly ape handling center, and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy from the HARRY POTTER series) as John’s ape hating son. All of the human actors here do a fine job even if there are a few cheesy lines here and there. I cannot stress enough how the apes steal the show here.
The story found in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is extremely captivating and had me from the opening scene to the final credits. This is partly due to the awesome pacing this movie has. I never felt bored or impatient for what was to come. There is a well paced montage scene to represent a large gap of time that works very well here and keeps the main story moving forward without any speed bumps. The narrative is firmly focused on the evolution of the main ape Caesar and the audience follows him through all the most important times during his evolution in intelligence. There are even a handful of nods to past films that longtime fans will surely notice. All in all the story of Caesar and the rise of his fellow apes was a fun and fascinating adventure that is full of more emotion and energy than one may expect.
On top of all that great crap I mentioned above, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is a damn fine action movie to boot filled with all the top of the line special CGI effects mentioned above. I could rant and rave about all the wonderful details and emotions captured in the main apes for years but I think you should just get your ass to the movie theatre and see for yourself. So besides the digital characters them self, the actual action is pretty intense too. The apes often retaliate when they see people or fellow apes being mistreated, there are a handful of scenes where the apes battle one another for dominance, and the main uprising of the apes near the end of the film is something to behold. The action is well paced and well choreographed. A lot of the action scenes are pretty awesome and seeing these nimble and agile creatures kick ass is really fun to see on the big screen. There is a wide variety of apes here that each get their moment to shine. There is some really cool stuff on display here and the sequences during the finale are just awesome. This is not however a balls to the wall summer action movie. It is an emotional story about the rise of the apes first and an action movie second. What we do get is very cool and always feels necessary rather than just for eye candy. This is no doubt a fun movie with cool and unique action sequences.
This summer sure is full of a ton of awesome blockbusters and RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES can be added near the top of that list! The captivating story is not too complicated or too simple and is full of just the right amount of emotion balanced with just the right amount of action. The CGI work is some of the greatest I have seen in a film to date and represents a benchmark for realism and emotion. I had a blast with this movie from start to finish. I highly suggest coming into this movie with an open mind and not approach it as a joke. Seriously, it will be your loss if you don’t. In the end, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is a very worthwhile reboot for the franchise and I am now a loyal fan! I really hope this movie gets a sequel and the franchise continues in this new and fresh direction. Very cool stuff.
Final Score: 9 out of 10