‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ Review
Rise of the Planet of the Apes caps the summer off with a surprisingly successful film. Where other sequels in this illustrious franchise have failed to live up to the potential of the original, Rise presents a captivating tale in the prelude to human extinction.
Will (James Franco), is trying to discover a drug that will cure his father’s (John Lithgow) alzheimer’s disease. He believes, after extensive testing on apes, that he has found his solution. Essentially, the drug reconnects wires in the brain and allows the effects of alzheimer’s and other diseases to be diminished. Unfortunately, the drug makes one of the apes very hostile and investors essentially kill the project before completion.
James Franco ends up caring for the last remaining ape in his research facility, Caesar. Caesar (Andy Serkis) has the effects of the drug in his bloodstream because it was passed to him from his mother. Throughout the years, he shows rapid growth in intelligence that will ultimately lead to the downfall of man.
It would make an interesting double feature to showcase the growth of Caesar with the documentary Project Nim. A lot of the development of Caesar is quite similar to real life events; the only difference is that Caesar’s intelligence greatly surpasses that of Nim’s (and Nim doesn’t bring destruction to the human race).
Rise of the Planet of the Apes does an excellent job giving human qualities to our new Ape overlords and that is in large part of the work of Andy Serkis. Serkis has had experience playing digital characters before (Lord of the Rings, King Kong) and without him Caesar’s part wouldn’t have been as believable. Whether or not his work will ever be acclaimed by the Academy in some capacity remains to be seen, but it would be an interesting prelude into future work in an exciting new field.
Most of Rise of the Planet of the Apes is worthy of the lengthy praise I’ve given it already, but there are some glaring faults. James Franco shows more emotion in Your Highness then he does in Rise. I just don’t buy his character’s motivations, including the segment at the climax of the film. I guess the other flaw is that the endgame of the movie is unfortunately not as epic as it should be. For the humans to be overpowered by the apes in this film the perfect storm of events had to happen and sometimes it’s just not believable.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes does a fine job of bringing the franchise back from the grave Tim Burton put it in. There’s word that due to the success of the first film, that two more films are planned. Hopefully that will fill in even more holes that remain to be plugged before the astronauts from Planet of the Apes return to Earth. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the most pleasant surprise of the summer.