RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
(Dir. Rupert Wyatt, 2011)
Here's a movie that answers the question that I didn't know anybody had been asking - how exactly did Earth become the Planet of the Apes?
According to this prequel/reboot/whatever, it sprang from a San Francisco scientist's (James Franco) attempts to cure Alzheimer's.
Franco experiments with genetic engineering on a test subject ape named Caesar (a CGI monkeyified Andy Serkis), and before long it's check out the big brain on Caesar-time!
The movie moves fast with short scenes forming a dark and supremely suspenseful set-up. We see Franco, with a little help from his simian pal, hook up with Frieda Pinto (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE) try to help his ailing father (John Lithgow), and, as anybody whose seen even a quick TV spot for this film knows, deal with the ginornous revolt of thousands of newly intellectually enhanced apes fixated on destroying the city.
Before we get there we've got to see that humans are the villains here, not the apes, so there's Tom Felton as a douchey facility guard who taunts Caesar (couldn't wait to see him killed), and David Oyelowo as a clichéd corporate baddie. There's also David Hewlett as Franco's complaining neighbor who gets tangled up in the origin story in a clever way I won't reveal.
There are some nice shout-outs to the original 1968 PLANET OF THE APES: Felton gets to say Charleton Heston's classic "damn dirty ape" line, and you can see Caesar playing with a Statue of Liberty toy at one point.
Serkis's Caesar dominates the movie with his powerful presence. We feel like we can fully follow his thought processes as he carries out a plan against the humans. Most folks looking for summer blockbuster fun will mainly be waiting just for the destructive finale, and it doesn't disappoint - especially the much hyped Golden Gate bridge sequence - but the thoughtful vibe and tense tone throughout should be equally enjoyed.
Although filled with action and mayhem, the last third is a bit anticlimatic as it ends just as it starts to really get going, but I know, that's the point of such a set-up for a new take on the franchise.
I'll have to wait 'til next time for complete world domination by the apes, but for now this is one Hell of a tasty appetizer.