"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is the type of film that some will scoff at as being a subpar reboot prequel for the franchise, but to go into the movie with that mentality does the flick an injustice. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" takes you on an emotional rollercoaster and produces a story, which is well told and intriguing at the same time.
For Will Rodman (James Franco) when things go bad his lab while working on a cure for Alzheimer's, his world is turned upside down. His research is stopped by his money-hungry boss Jacobs (David Oyelowo) and after the lab apes he's been using are ordered to be put down, his ape handler Franklin (Tyler Labine) reveals the aggressive ape who doomed the research was only protecting her newborn.
So now the baby ape is adopted into Rodman's life on a temporary basis, but when his father Charles (John Lithgow), who is suffering from Alzheimer's begins to bond with the ape, Caeser (Andy Serkis) become a full-time member of the Rodman family.
Rodman quickly sees that Caesar's intelligence is rapidly growing and comes to the conclusion the experimental drug his mother was given was passed onto him during birth. Caesar's given a room in the attic and essentially becomes Rodman's adopted son.
From then on Caesar increasingly blurs the lines between man and ape acting more and more human, but his actions defending Charles lands him in an ape sanctuary ran by father and son duo John (Brian Cox) and Dodge (Tom Felton) Landon and that's when we see the transformation begin.
We finally get to see Caesar as more ape than man as he struggled to understand why he's being abandoned at the sanctuary. He continuously signs 'home' to Will, but is left with his face pressed against the glass as his 'father' leaves him alone for the first time.
As Will struggles to get Caesar out of the sanctuary, the ape becomes increasingly more despondent, eventually refusing to go home with Will. In the meantime, Will has begun development of a new drug after his father improved when Will snuck some out and began giving his father treatments at home. The elder Rodman got better, but his body began rejecting the drug and reverted to his state prior to treatments.
And like always, the silly ol' humans don't learn their lesson the first time and decide to bring in another shipment of apes to begin testing the new, aerosol-type drug. The drug will work better on apes due to their increased immune system, but it delivers quite a punch to the human immune system. I smell disaster.
The crafty Caesar set himself up as the alpha male at the sanctuary and escapes, obtains and releases the new drug -- creating the army he needs for his evolution revolution. What follows is a cool showdown on the Golden Gate Bridge, one final tug at the heartstrings moment and we see what truly will bring about the Planet of the Apes.
What I loved so much about this movie was the depths of emotion that were involved. If you're like me, you'll actually be rooting for Caesar most of the movie and not be ashamed for it. It's just another in a long list of reminders that just because we can do something doesn't necessarily mean we should. It also shows once again that man's arrogance with ultimately be man's downfall.
Franco, Lithgow, Cox and Felton are great in the roles and Freida Pinto, who plays Will's love interest Caroline, proves she's more than just a pretty face.
Hands down this movie belongs to Andy Serkis and his performance as Caesar. I know the digital animators deserve their due, but it all starts with Serkis. We've heard for a long time now that digital character would one day be able to hold their own against their human counterparts. This is the realization of such talk.
Serkis gives one of my favorite performances of the year as Caesar. There's warmth, compassion and general confusion as Caesar navigates a world he never was to be part of. I wouldn't be surprised if Serkis gets so much deserved recognition for his role as the year wears on.
The movie is a perfect blend of reimagining a classic, while paying homage to its source material. There are a lot of subtle and not so subtle reminders of the original film, with the film feeling very much like "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes". Keep you eyes peeled and she how many nods to the original you can see. It's a fun time -- trust me.
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" could very well be that sleeper hit nobody expected to do well this year. What this film does best is allows you to forget the dull first reboot director Tim Burton gave the world back in 2001. This film does what Burton film couldn't -- provide a good story, with great acting and show us the "Planet of the Apes" franchise still has some gas left in the tank.
Final Cut: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is one of the best films of the summer. Emotional and satisfying are just two words that can be used to describe the movie. This is definitely one revolution you want to be part of.
4.5 out of 5 stars
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Freida Pinto
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writer: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence
In theaters Friday