Reviews & Previews - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Posted on Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 06:00 PM

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

By: S. Tran

Starring:  James Franco, Freida Pinto, Jonathon Lithgow, 
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Running time: 130 minutes
Rated: PG-13
Monkey Apocalypse!
Yes, zombies are scary but a monkey apocalypse might even be worse because they are way faster and smarter than zombies. But then again the monkeys are not trying to eat your brains. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an entertaining movie that falters a bit at the end with a pretty anti-climactic ending.

James Franco plays Will, a scientist trying to discover a cure for Alzheimer's in the pre-quel of sorts to the original POTA movies from the late 60's. The drug he is working on is supposed to allow to brain to repair damage, but he soon discovers it can also increase intelligence. After stealing an infant chimp named Caesar from his research facility, it becomes apparent that Caesar has inherited the benefits of the new drug from his mother who was a test subject. 
After a series of events lands Caesar in a primate facility run by some cruel caregivers, he begins to plot his escape and plans for world domination. Well, that last part is not true. Caesar actually has some fairly modest plans for him and his ape buddies and that was my real problem with the movie. There was quite a long build up to the big battle scene but when it was over I found myself thinking "That's it?". The payoff just wasn't there for me. However the script did include a pretty clever plot device to help explain the ultimate victory of the apes that we saw in the original films.

I won't speak too much about the acting. The real star of the movie was the CGI work done with the apes. It was seamless, effective and made the movie worth watching by itself. If this is the direction CGI is going then I think we'll be crossing the uncanny valley soon where it will be almost impossible to determine what is real and what is CGI in the future.

Caesar, both as an infant and as an adult as well as the other apes integrate perfectly with the live action shots. I could not spot a moment where there was any disconnect between what was captured on film and what was rendered on the computer afterwards. Obviously, for the real actors trying to act and respond in scenes where nothing was in front of them must have been a challenge but it was handled well. Andy Serkis also deserves credit for his work doing the stop motion capture for the adult Caesar.

Ultimately this is a cool summer movie that was fun to watch. it isn't going to be a classic, but is a lot better than the horrible remake from a few years ago with Mark Wahlberg. You will be entertained for a couple hours but will probably leave the theatre a bit disappointed with the conclusion. The movie also has some interesting nods to the original films which are summarized by this article for you die hard fans.

3.5 stars out of 5.

S. Tran also writes at, and


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