Rise of the Planet of the Apes
When it was first revealed that Hollywood was making a prequel to the film PLANET OF THE APES I was skeptical and a little annoyed. Why would they bother revisiting a franchise from over two decades ago (not counting the remake with Mark Wahlberg)? So it was with the feelings of boredom and apathy that I walked into this summer’s RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Imagine my surprise when I actually stared to enjoy the story and even the crazy CGI monkeys, it was quite a wake-up call to say the least.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a geneticist in the San Francisco area who is working on a drug that will reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, which just so happens to be eating away at the brain of his father played by John Lithgow. The drug is being tested on apes and seems to be going fine until one of them goes postal during the company’s board meeting. This results in the termination of the rest of the subjects. Unbeknownst to the scientists, one of the apes has a baby which goes home with Rodman to escape death. During the apes adolescence, it is discovered that the drug passed onto young Caesar through his mother’s genes which makes him ridiculously intelligent.
What a joy it was to watch Caesar (played by Andy Serkis of Gollum fame) grow up in the house with Rodman and his father. This little ape was as sweet as could be and it wasn’t any time at all before the audience fell in love with him and had deep feelings of regret for his situation. It says a lot about a script and direction when the crowd falls in love with a CGI ape. In fact, towards the end of the film it was hard to distinguish who we were supposed to be rooting for – apes or humans.
The supporting cast also did a fine job and it was nice to see Draco Malfoy Tom Felton in a non -Harry Potter role (though he should probably start to be concerned about type-casting). However, none of the human actors ever felt developed enough to where the audience cared whether they lived or died. James Franco did fine in his role as Will Rodman, but after seeing his performance in last year’s 127 HOURS, it was easy to see that his heart just wasn’t into this film as much. That’s not to say he didn’t do well, he just didn’t do as great of a job that we now know he’s capable of.
I’ve never been a huge PLANET OF THE APES fan, so it’ll be interesting to see what other fans out there think about this updated take on this classic franchise. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and would recommend it as a fun summer film for anyone to see. If anything, everyone should see it just so you can witness the potential problems with animal testing. This is probably one of the best PSA’s you’ll ever see for prevention of animal cruelty- always remember to be nice to animals because they may be in charge one day.