It’s hard to believe that it has been forty three years since the first Planet of the Apes movie came out and we had our first look at Earth when controlled by the simians. Although an attempt to revive the series was made ten years ago, the Planet of the Apes series seemed dead to a lot of my friends and me. However, this weekend the latest Planet of the Apes installment, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, has debuted. The question you may be asking now is, “Robbie is this movie worth seeing, or just another sad attempt to revive this series?” In my opinion, I believe this movie is worth seeing, but overall it’s your call. So sit back and relax as we take a look at this movie.
The premise to this movie can be deduced from the title alone as we see the origins to how the apes became the dominant life form of the planet. A journey to cure Alzheimer’s disease is the spark to the war between ma n and ape as Will Rodman (James Franco) attempts to synthesize a drug to eliminate the disease that plagues his father (James Lithgow). After some chaotic and wild intro scenes, Franco ends up with Caesar (Andy Serkis) a baby chimp that has inherited the cure from his mother. With the positive results Caesar is showing, Will gives the compound to his father and brings him back from the brink of losing his mind. Eventually we see Caesar growing up and becoming even more intelligence as he begins questioning his role in Will and Caroline’s (Frieda Pinto) life which soon leads down a path that we all see coming. See trailer here
This prequel to the series was surprisingly done well and was much better than I had originally anticipated it to be. Franco for the most part shows off his talent as he captures the brilliant and motivated scientist determined to better the world. In a manner similar to his character in Spiderman, Franco is not an emotionless shell, but actually has a heart of gold that drives his actions and character. However, Franco as well as the rest of the supporting human cast all pale in comparison to the character development of Caesar, the main ape of the movie. In a series of stunning camera work, CGI animation, and wonderful writing we see the evolution of Caesar from lab experiment to leader. It’s quite scary how Wyatt and company were able to put such human emotion into a digital chimpanzee, which brought the audience and me, further into the movie. I was able to relate to Caesar on a number of levels from protecting family and friend to the question and searching one’s purpose in life. There were plenty of moments in this movie that pulled the strings of my heart and other times that left me satisfied at the actions that had just taken place.
Again I will state that the CGI was excellent and perhaps was the best used medium for this movie, instead of the makeup we’ve seen in the past. Unlike other CGI movie we’ve seen this summer, i.e. Transformers 3, Green Lantern, Captain America, and more) the CGI was not overshadowed by things like action, overdramatic live action, or slapstick comedy. Instead it was used to tell a science fiction story that felt real, relatable, and representative of a chimp in a foreign world. Serkis being the master of motion capture technology, has once again simulated creature movements to perfection. Although Caesar has so much human character to him, the movie still does a good job at showing that he is still has ape origins as he continues to run, communicate, and even play in ape like mannerisms. The combination of both ape and human qualities gives Caesar a quality unlike any well trained or animatronic animal I’ve seen in the past.
Despite how strong the CGI tells the story, it still doesn’t help with how predictable the story is. Throughout most of the movie, I was able to predict where the tale was going. Whether it involved Caesar’s next actions, who was going to be attacked next, to what problems were going to occur, all of the actions were easily determined. An exception would be an unexpected killer of the human race, which I do not want to reveal. Perhaps another problem some may not enjoy is that once again humanity is the enemy and the source of all evil. Countless acts of greed, jealousy, fear, and various other attributes force the humans to make irrational decisions that are driven by emotions. While it does help drive the story, it did cause me to roll my eyes a few times. Yet a third weakness in this movie could be the lack of action that the trailers painted for us these past few months. Although it did not bother me, fans who are looking intense ape action will be strongly disappointed, as only the last twenty minutes or so has actual fighting. The story and character development were perhaps stronger due to the slower pace, but the action at the end is a good release of the suspense that builds up throughout most of the movie.
Overall I applaud Rise of the Planet of the Apes and believe this to be a movie worthy of your time in the theatres. These days it is rare for a sci-fi flick to have such character development, emotion, and story as most are now mainly drowned out by explosions and flashy action scenes. However the superb acting, decent pace, and phenomenal combination of CGI and camera work really give the movie character and emotional drive. I’ll give this movie an 8.0 for surprising me and am looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the series next. Check in next time my friends for movie reviews on today’s modern releases and soon classic movies. Take care!