Director: Rupert Wyatt
Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Brian Cox, and John Lithgow
I will admit that I have never seen the original
Planet of the Apes
films from the 1960’s and 70’s. I did unfortunately see the hot, steaming mess that was
remake of the original film in 2001. So I had low expectations going in to see this new installment. While far from great,
Rise of the Apes
has a solid premise and a glimmer of what could be some pretty amazing sequels.
Academy Award nominee
James Franco (127 Hours)
plays a scientist struggling to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. He develops a drug that enhances brain function and is testing its effectiveness on apes. Franco’s motive is strong. His father, played by the fabulous Academy Award nominee
John Lithgow (Terms of Endearment)
, is suffering from Alzheimer's and is on the verge of losing his battle. The drug is effective, and it leads to a baby ape, Caesar, developing a high level of intelligence. The CGI ape is played by
who is very familiar with motion capture technology. Serkis helped to pioneer new ground over ten years ago with his portrayal of Gollum in the modern classic
The Lord of the Rings.
As Caesar's intelligence increases over the years he begins to realize that he is treated more like the pets he sees in his residential neighborhood.
In a violent scene, Caesar rushes to the defense of John Lithgow and injures another man. Animal control then forces James Franco to turn Caesar over to a facility that cares for apes. This ape orphanage is run by
Brian Cox (The Bourne Supremacy).
Cox’s character is not concerned with how the apes are treated which further alienates Caesar from humans. One of the better sequences of the film involves
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy of the Harry Potter series)
. He is an employee at the ape facility who takes a bit too much pleasure in making the apes suffer. Caesar's revenge is satisfying and a little electrifying. Eventually there is a great ape escape, and the apes flee through San Francisco in a race to reach the great Red Wood forest. The end sequence is thrilling as the apes battle the authorities on the Golden Gate Bridge.
The film's major flaw is that the it takes too long to build up to the actual rise of the apes. Anyone going to this film knows the gist. The apes will take over and we become their pets.
Director Rupert Wyatt
does make you feel compassion for the apes; you sympathize and even route for them. You will just have to wait for the final 20 minutes for the exciting parts. There will be a sequel for sure, and the possibilities are endless. Halfway through the movie I was ready for it to be over, but at the end I was ready for round two. Bottom line: too much time was spent monkeying around. When you name your movie
The Rise of the Planet of the Apes
, make sure they rise up.
score 6 out 10