Review of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

5 Aug

The apes are back.  The Planet of the Apes film series begin in 1968 running through 1973. There was even a short run TV series in 1974.  Now in 2011, they’re back.  In this edition, Will Rodman (James Franco) is a highly regarded research scientist focusing on a cure for Alzheimer’s.  His father suffers from the disease giving Rodman a personal interest in finding a cure.  A new drug he develops show promise until one of the apes it’s being tested on goes berserk.  The head of the research lab, Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) orders all of test subjects killed.  His orders are carried out except for a baby chimp, an offspring of one the subjects.

Rodman takes the young animal home, names him Caesar and soon realizes that Caesar has exceptional intellectual capabilities inherited from his mother after she took Rodman’s drug.  Rodman meets Caroline Aranha (Freida Pinto) a primatologist who helps him take care of Caesar and the two humans eventually fall in love. When Caesar becomes violent trying to protect Rodman’s father, the authorities demand that Rodman be put a facility equipped to deal with primates. The caretakers at the facility are brutal and Caesar uses his superior mental capabilities to organize and plan an escape for himself and the other captives.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes works more as an adult film than one for youth.  Much of the storyline and dialogue explains the scientific research behind the development and testing of the drug.  Its interesting stuff but it may lose some of the younger audience. And you’ll find yourself wondering when the story will shift to the action segments of the apes escaping and trying to take over. 

The writers must be given credit; they do develop the story. Too many films today believe that exceptional special effects are enough.

These types of films don’t require exceptional acting. This cast led by James Franco who’s still trying to live down his disastrous stint as the co-host of this year’s Oscars, does a good job. They’re effective and that’s all they have to be.

Weta Digital’s of Avatar and the Lord of the Rings trilogy fame creates the world Caesar and the other apes inhabit. This creation is magical especially how the Caesar transforms from a monkey to a thinking and reflective being. You can see the development in his eyes and gestures.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes gets an “A” for its cast diversity rating.  Rodman’s love interest, Freida Pinto is Asian.  David Oyelowo an Englishman of Nigerian descent plays a pivotal role as chief executive of the research lab and Rodman’s boss.

 The storyline in Rise of the Planet of the Apes can be a bit technical but over all this is visually stimulating production supported by solid acting.  It gets a See It rating.

It’s rated PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence and is 110 minutes in length.



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