Who out there asked for another Planet of the Apes movie? I sure didn’t. I think an updated Apes movie was a great idea but then we got the awful 2001 Tim Burton version that grabbed it’s own feces and threw it at the franchise. Ten years later I hear about a reimagined origin story based on Caesar the chimp and I could not fathom how it could possibly be good. Ever since Beneath the Planet of the Apes was released the series has been a unfunny joke that just wouldn’t die. Well 43 years after the first film and we somehow get a sequel/prequel/squeakuel that it deserves.
That’s right. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is really quite decent! I’m as surprised as you are.
The movie starts off as chimpanzees are collected and shipped to be tested on by a genetics corporation Gen-Sys. They are specifically tested on by the “scientist” James Franco, who is trying to find the cure for Alzheimer’s. After a few incidents and ruining the project, he takes a baby chimp home and raises him along with his father John Lithgow, who has alzheimer’s. Obviously Caesar grows up and is brilliant for an ape. He attacks a neighbor and is thrown into a primate compound. I didn’t know those even existed. It is finally at this point that the movie kicks it into high gear. At that point every human actor becomes unimportant. The climax of the film is a very good payoff and actually makes an ape attack semi-plausible, even if there are hundreds of apes all of a sudden.
Andy Serkis does an amazing job of capturing the movements and facial expressions of an ape. Yes, some may say that is the job of the animators, and that’s true. But they could not have pulled it off so effortlessly without Serkis as the motion capture model. They guy does his research. I’m sure he will play Smaug the dragon in addition to Gollum in the Hobbit films that come out starting next Winter.
It’s only been a few days since I’ve seen this but I would say it’s one of the most memorable movies of the Summer. I have liked most of them just ok, but a week later I can’t remember a single thing about them (Capt America, Cowboys & Aliens). I’m always game to be pleasantly surprised by a blockbuster that comes out of nowhere. It has been a year of disappointment (I’m looking at you Green Lantern) and it’s very nice to enjoy a movie even if the franchise was previously thought to be broken. I look forward to sequels and hope they keep the quality high. Dr Zaius would be proud. A-