Rise of the Planet of the Apes review

Posted on 15 August 2011
By Matt Barden
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The ingeniously named Rise of the Planet of the Apes has a couple of surprises up those long, hairy chimp arms, namely; it’s good.

The prequel to Charlton Heston’s iconic 1968 Planet of the Apes and Mark Whalberg’s slightly less iconic 2001 remake.

James Franco tackles the role of Will Rodman, a brilliant scientist who is attempting a cure for Alzheimer’s. Working for a big corporation he trials a genetically engineered retrovirus on test monkeys.

The result – chimps smarter than your average monkey.

But when a brooding chimp trashes an investors meeting, the project is shut down and the marsupials left to a grizzly fate.

Franco saves one baby CGI chimp, Caesar (Andy Serkis) and brings the dirty ape home to live with him and his Alzheimer suffering father, Charles (John Lithgow).

The progression of Caesar from cute, cuddly chimp to super-intelligent ape/human hybrid is handled excellently on screen. Completely made up of motion capture technology, Caesar quickly becomes the star of the film.

Harry Potter’s Tom Felton provides a catalyst for the onset of a war for supremacy, provoking and abusing Caesar. The young Brit actor may be in danger of getting type cast at this rate.

Rise is an intelligent sci-fi, which outlines events that lead to the original Planet of the Apes movie. Focusing more on characters and the relationship between Franco, his family and Caesar, than the spectacle usually associated with a science fiction blockbuster.

That’s not to say that the film is without a few good ol’ fashioned monkey assaults and there is plenty to keep the action junkie happy.

Lithgow really sinks his teeth into the role of the mentally decaying parent, while Franco solidifies his status as Hollywood’s leading thinking man.

Rise is an enjoyable sci-fi that shows its contemporaries that there can be room for a good story and good characters amongst the explosions and carnage.