I Saw A Film Today… Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Even after seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I’m still a bit hazy under what title this film falls under. Is it a remake of the fourth original film in the series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes? Is it a prequel to the original Charlton Heston film? Or is a studio just trying to revamp another series of films that did not need a revamping?

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Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist working hard to create a cure for  Alzheimer’s disease by testing a retrovirus on chimpanzees. The reason he is so passionate to create a cure is because his father (John Lithgow) has Alzheimer’s. Thankfully, Will has created the virus and successfully used it on Bright Eyes, one of the test chimps (One of many references to the original series).

But when Bright Eyes goes on a rampage, she is killed and the ALZ-112 program is shut down. But she did leave one thing to help Will with his research in the form of her offspring (Andy Serkis), who she passed her genetic gifts on to.

Will takes the chimp home, names him Caesar, raises him and continues his research. Eventually he test ALZ-112 on his father, which has fantastic results, but eventually his body begins fighting back against it. Will decides it is time to present his findings to his boss in order to find a fix for this problem.

At the same time this is happening, Caesar begins causing problems in the neighborhood and eventually ends up in a primate facility run by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his son (Tom Felton). At first Caesar is looked down on by his fellow apes but using his intelligence, he becomes the dominant chimp. He and the others escape and decides to invade the city of San Francisco. Can Will convince him to stop?

I was worried about Rise of the Planet of the Apes when I originally saw the trailer. I was mainly worried because one of the cornerstones of the original series is it’s campiness. It’s monkey suits and irony-riddled script was one of the reasons it is so enjoyable. Thankfully this film excels without the necessity of the over the top costumes. Unfortunately there were far too many references to the original films. Having news footage of Icarus being launched into space is one thing, but having Tom Felton repeat the famous “damn dirty ape” line word for word is just over the top.

Another thing that worried me about this film is that it uses CGI heavily. There are few films that have used CGI heavily and effectively and thankfully this is one of them. Although it is not perfect, it does look really good and most of this praise is aimed at Andy Serkis. The care he puts into his craft shines through in this film and unfortunately is overlooked at times.

James Franco gives a fantastic performance in this film, which surprised me a bit since I thought that he would be too relaxed for this role to be portrayed effectively. Another surprise is John Lithgow, who is an actor that I’ve never really held in high regards but is fantastic as a man with Alzheimer’s disease. And the rest of the cast is great as well. Although why Frieda Pinto was important to the plot, I’m not sure.

I thought Rise of the Planet of the Apes was only going to bring out fanboys of the original series of films this weekend. But based upon the group of people in the theater with me when I saw it, that was not necessarily the case. You may not get some of the numerous references to the Charlton Heston classic, but you will still enjoy it.

Verdict: SEE IT!

* Poster by Dan Norris.

Comments? Opinions? Leave the below.

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One Response to “I Saw A Film Today… Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

  1. Good Review! I wasn’t actually expecting to be as moved as I did from this material but Serkis just really channeled the inner ape within him, and nails this perfect motion-capture performance as Caesar.

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