Rise of the Planet of the Apes Movie Review:
So are you wondering if Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the prequel or origins film to one of the most enduring franchises of all time, lives up to the reputation that the franchise has built up to over these last 43 years, since Charlton Heston spoke that famous line, “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape?” In a word (or two), hell yes.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes stars James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow and Andy Serkis as the motion captured Caesar. (For you Stargate fans, David Hewlett also stars in the film.) It’s directed superbly by Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist), and produced by Chernin Entertainment and distributed by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
In this origin/prequel story of the Planet of the Apes franchise, we follow Will Rodman’s (Franco) efforts to create a cure for his father’s Alzheimer’s. His experimental use/testing of his drugs and a specific number of key events that take place over several years cause the inevitable where apes are imbued with intelligence and from that point on, it’s a battle for their own freedom from the tyranny or abusive treatment at the hands of humans.
When I first heard of this movie a few years ago, I became very excited about the potential that it could be. But as with any origins or prequel, things can go awry in the effort to live up to the hype of the franchise. Sometimes folks get overzealous in their approach or they take a more glib approach and miss the mark entirely.
Instead, Rupert Wyatt took this project and read between the lines of what could be and filled in voids of fan curiosity in such a way that made this an incredibly compelling movie. But the strongest compulsion this movie-goer experienced was watching Andy Serkis motion capture the personality of Caesar.
The various puzzle pieces that blend together to form this riveting movie are the combined elements of the personal need of Rodman to cure his father added to the corporate greed of his genetic engineering company in wanting to produce the cure for Alzheimer’s while improving on the human subjects mental abilities, as it does in the chimps.
But underneath all the human drama, is the story of Caesar over several years as he’s first raised by humans and then betrayed by the species through acts of those who don’t represent the human species very well.
We watch Caesar evolve and we also meet Bright Eyes, Maurice, Buck, Koba, Cornelia, Alpha and more. Oh so many more apes.
The story evolved along in such a way that despite knowing where the franchise goes, I rooted hard for the apes and was happy to see them get out from under the controlling thumb of humans. Of course, from there, it’s not what, but how the apes secure their freedom.
The CGI wasn’t perfect, but was great enough. Events and a few homages to the original film were present, there’s a very quick news blurp in the background of the lost spaceship, Icarus, (hint, hint) which I initially didn’t connect with the franchise, and the evolution of Caesar with the intermittent look at the way his eyes reflected his different states of evolution were brilliant. Just brilliant and awe-inspiring. To see the different looks on Caesar’s face from time to time, each look spoke volumes.
They say that action speaks louder than words. In this case facial expressions say more than any number of pages of script lines! Wow.
Final Thoughts in this Movie Review:
If I were to rate Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I’d easily give it a Popcorn 10. I can’t decide! But one thing is definitely for sure… I think if you appreciated the first movie, you’ll love how this movie tells the tale of how it all began. So if you’re on the fence, and think the trailers look good, be all means, git your butt to the theater and enjoy this wonderfully crafted tale.
HEADS UP: After the movie, DO NOT LEAVE before the credits role. The movie ends and there’s a scene that is a central aspect of the mythos. The ensuing animation that takes place after that scene, that’s in the background of the credits goes even further into possibly explaining some questions you might have had otherwise after the movie ended.
PS #2: The screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver wrote this movie with the premise that it would be part of a trilogy, if it indeed works out in theaters. Sweet!
Movie Trailer No. 1:
Movie Trailer No 2 for Rise of the Planet of the Apes: