Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
- Director:Rupert Wyatt
- Cast:Freida Pinto , John Lithgow , Brian Cox, James Franco, Andy Serkis
- Release Date:August 04, 2011
- Running time:105 minutes
- Film Worth:$16.50
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Perfectly positioning its blockbuster action within a thought-provoking framework, this smart and emotionally involving sci-fi drama deserves its own string of sequels.
Laying a whole new platform for the talking apes mythology of the original film series from the sixties and seventies - which began in 1968 with the highly inventive Planet Of The Apes, in which Charlton Heston's arrogant astronaut crash lands on a world where talking apes rule and simpleton humans are herded around like cattle - the volubly entertaining and moving Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes happily has nothing to do with director Tim Burton's wrong-headed 2000 remake of the original film.
The film centres on Will Rodman (James Franco), a young scientist working for Gyn-Sys, a large pharmaceutical cooperation. He is conducting complex genetic research to develop a benign virus that restores damaged human brain tissue, largely out of his desperation to find a cure for Alzheimer's, which is slowly turning his father, Charles (John Lithgow), into a man that he no longer recognises. When Will's simian test subjects suddenly display aggressive behaviour, Gyn-Sys shuts him down. Amidst the confusion, Will is lumped with an overlooked infant chimpanzee - the newly orphaned offspring of his most promising test subject. Will calls the chimp Caesar, and looks after him as if he was his own son. He soon realises, however, that Caesar is no ordinary chimpanzee, and when Will is forced to give him up, it sets into motion a string of events that will literally change the world forever...
Though setting itself up as a prequel to the original film series, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes breaks instantly away from the franchise's mythology, in which apes had been domesticated after a plague had wiped out the world's dogs and cats, and eventually fomented a revolution after their continued abuse and oppression. Here, director Rupert Wyatt (going effectively large after making an indie splash with his 2008 debut, The Escapist) and screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver posit a whole new beginning that is far more manageable within the film's real-world parameters. Running off fears associated with genetic engineering and unchecked animal testing by pharmaceutical companies, they place their reimagining within a decidedly contemporary and thought provoking framework. It gives the film a smart, knowing edge that perfectly sets off its blockbuster-essential need for action and show stopping set pieces.
Wyatt's decision to use performance capture technology to create his cast of apes, meanwhile, is a masterstroke. They look superb, and master-of-the-medium, Andy Serkis (Lord Of The Rings' Gollum; King Kong), imbues Caesar with such character and feeling that when he is separated from his father/carer, Will, it is literally heartbreaking. Though the film appropriately ends with a memorable and imaginatively staged apes-on-a-rampage sequence, it's the warmth that exists between Will and Caesar - and how it eventually becomes complicated and difficult - that really gives the film its lasting kick. Hopefully this well-thought-out sci-fi drama will make money at the box office - Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is actually a film that demands a whole herd of sequels.