For those hardcore fans of the Planet of the Apes movies waiting with bated breath for the new flick – the wait is now over.
I’ve not been a fan of the original ‘70’s movies, the cartoon series, the television show or the 2001 bomb by Tim Burton, but I think this new franchise may have won me over.
Watch the trailer at filmtimes.net
First of all, Rise is a prequel or origin story on how the “planet” came to be in the first place. The story begins in modern day San Francisco, not post New York.
Gone are the ape suits worn by Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter. In their place, CGI effects. However, one must still we willing to suspend belief to enjoy this sometimes-silly film.
James Franco (127 Hours, Spiderman, and one time host of the Oscars) plays Will Rodman, a scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
His passion for his work is fueled by his father, Charles’ (John Lithgow) battle with the disease. The studies of a special formula given to chimpanzees at the Gen-sys Lab begin to show signs of a promising breakthrough.
The formula makes the chimps smarter and might help reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s in humans. But there is a flaw. It also makes them more aggressive.
After an “unfortunate event” happens at the labs, a hidden baby chimp is found. He is the motherless son of Bright Eyes, one of the test chimps.
Not wanting the infant to be destroyed, Will “takes his work home with him” and tell Charles not to get attached to the new houseguest. Charles names the ape, Caesar.
It becomes obvious that Caesar has inherited his mother’s new intelligence from the drug. After a misunderstanding and another “unfortunate event” with a neighbor, Caesar is foreceably taken from Will’s home to a primate house ruled by evil zookeepers.
While Will is tries his best to get Caesar out of that environment, Caesar makes his own plans to escape and possibly rule of the world.
The acting is much better than one would expect. Franco plays an effective workaholic who has no life outside of work and caring for his ailing father.
Lithgow does an amazing job portraying someone with Alzheimer’s and is so different from his comic role in NBC’s Third Rock From The Sun comedy that you might forget that he can really act.
Caesar is part CGI and part played by actor Andy Serkis showing both animal responses and human emotions. Harry Potter fans will recognize Draco Malfoy’s Tom Felton, (minus the white hair) as a zookeeper with an attitude.
Rise isn’t without its flaws though. Despite the continual feeling of dread throughout the film, it seems to take forever before the “rise” actually takes place.
The trailers make it seem that the movie will be non-stop action, and that just isn’t the case. But when the action does strike, it is worth it.
There are a few eye-rolling moments involving sign language and subtitles, but those are easily forgotten. The movie has violent moments, but isn’t gratuitous or gory.
The story pulls you in two directions, rooting for both man and beast and given the story’s eventual ending, it isn’t as depressing as you would think.
It’s an effective warning against the practice of playing God and taking to heart that some things are outside of our control.
Just like the verse, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough,” (Galatians 5:9 NIV), it only takes a little mistake to make huge regrets.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Stars: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton and Andy Serkis
Director: Rupert Wyatt