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“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” – Review (POSITIVE)

August 5, 2011

Remember the shameful Tim Burton reimagining of Franklin Schaffner’s “Planet of the Apes”? God oh mighty that movie still gives me chills. What the hell was Burton thinking? And that ending?!?! So, over a year ago when I read that 20th Century was planning on rebooting the franchise (again), I wasn’t holding my breath. Then I heard James Franco was cast as a scientist character, still nothing. Then I hear that Weta Digital, responsible for “Lord of the Rings”, “King Kong” (2005), & “Avatar”, were going to be creating the apes through motion capture, and I thought, “Ok this is interesting, all we need now is Andy Serkis to…” And yes, Andy Serkis was cast as Caesar.

Caesar, the ape that stood up to man, by uttering one single word, “No”. According to the original series character Cornelius, the myths of Caesar were legendary and God-like to all apes, so, it seemed fitting to tell his origin story. And thats what really caught my attention to this reboot, the chance to tell a story about how one simple little creature could basically turn our world upside down and have the human race eradicated, and controlled by a new sierien race.

Director Rupert Wyatt (“The Escapist”) has respectfully honored the original films, and has given it a new twist that should capture audiences. Like, Chris Nolan’s “Inception”, not only has Wyatt directed a summer blockbuster, eye-candy and all, but he’s also created a modern thinker piece. It will have us question the laws of nature vs. technology, man vs. animal, and animal vs. world. Set in semi-present day San Francisco, where man’s own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy. Dr. Will Rodman has been on a crusade on finding the cure for Alzheimer’s, by testing a new drug on apes, he feels that he’s close, but a fatal accident leads to the end of his project. In comes Caesar, a baby chimp that Will takes in, who’s been endowed with the genetic gifts of the drug that his mother was tested on. Soon enough, Caesar shows greater signs of intelligence, so great that it brings out a dark truth about man that he never would’ve imagined and from there on, he will stand at nothing to change the natural order and make a difference in his race he best sees fit.

It’s a cautionary tale, scientist today gentically engineer animals constantly, now it may not have the effect that the film percieves, but it’s a cautionary tale none the less. Like it’s original counterparts from the 60’s and 70’s, “Rise”, takes control and shows an image that we try to block out of our minds, could our greatest discoveries lead to our biggest downfall? The story is well concieved in this notion, and may I say, chilling. We can also thank the visual effect of the apes. Like “Avatar”, these creatures are in complete motion capture, lead by the motion capture master himself, Andy ‘Gollum’ Serkis as Caesar. With this technology, we’re able to see emotions that you would rarely see in heavy layers of make-up. It makes the animals look completely, and eerily, realistic.

Coming off his recent Oscar nomination, Franco brings some real heart to this role, much like in “127 Hours”, maybe not as intense, but the heart is there. John Lithgow as his sick father is something special to see, I haven’t seen Lithgow in a movie in a while, so it was quite a pleasant feeling to have his presence on screen. The character of  Steven Jacobs, played by David Oyelowo, was the typical money hungry business man we’ve seen before, that’s really the one thing about the movie I didn’t seem to care for. Other than that, I really liked this movie a lot.

With some mild spoilers, there are some cool easter eggs hidden throughout the film that foreshadow coming events in the future that happen in the past films. Especially the fact that this film takes place during a time where our country has sent some astronauts to explore Mars, and suddenly disappear. If you’re a fan of the original films, you’ll enjoy these type of tidbits hidden throughout the film. Tom Felton’s character’s name is Dodge Landon, the seperate names of the astronauts of the ’68 film. It’s cool things like that, that will leave a smile on your movie geek face.

If you’re a fan of the original movies or you’re at least familiar with them, you should like this movie a lot. But if you’re one of those people who liked the Tim Burton “Planet of the Apes” and are lead to believe that this movie is prequel to THAT film, think again, and go rent the flippin’ 1968 Charlton Heston film. Do yourself a favor and see something that’s actually  GOOD.

GRADE: A-

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