Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Chest Pounding Good Time

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writers: Pierre Boulle, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Andy Serkis

SYNOPSIS: After creating a pharmaceutical cure for Alzheimer's, the company that Will Rodman works for launches into clinical animal trials. As the trials expand the intelligence of test subject Caeser, the simian finds itself in a position to wrestle control away from the humans who have mistreated him.

REVIEW: We have seen its battles and conquests. We have seen beneath it and have helped to escape from it. Between 1968 and 1973, 20th Century Fox had released five Planet of the Apes films based on the French novel La Planete des singes by Pierre Boulle. Over the years, 20th Century Fox has returned to the Planet of the Apes with television series and comic book stories. The franchise was rebooted, reinterpreted and re-imagined by Tim Burton with Mark Wahlberg and Tim Roth in the lead roles in 2001 with a successful box office, but mixed critical and fan opinion.

Now, 20th Century Fox is reimagining the franchise again with an origin story set in modern day San Francisco, where Will Rodman (James Franco) experiments with generic engineering for a cure for Alzheimer's disease. Along the way, his 'cure' leads to the development of superior intelligence in the test subject simian in the animal trials. Can Rise of the Planet of the Apes reignite one of the first fan favorite film franchise? A series of films with a legacy on par with the frenzy of today's Harry Potter series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes may be the studio's last attempt to reboot and reclaim its former glory.

James Franco stars as William Rodman, a Berkley scientist working at the pharmaceutical corporation Gen Sys in pursuit of a cure for Alzheimer's that afflict his father Charles (John Lithgow). When ALZ 112 shows repaired cognitive functions in chimpanzee #9, Rodman pushes the board to vote in favor of human trials. When #9, nicknamed Bright Eyes, seems to go berserk on the day of the presentation, the entire project is shut down and all of the test subjects euthanized. But Bright Eye's outburst was due to her protecting an infant no one was aware of. Rodman takes the baby chimp home and raises it as his own, soon realizing that the cognitive benefits from the 112 serum had been passed directly to the baby, named Caeser by William's father. And so begins a brand new modern interpretation of an enduring film franchise.

Built on a solid script from RIck Jaffa and Amanda Silver, based on the films and and based on the original story from Pierre Boulle, Rise of the Planet of the Apes unfolds an origin tale much more believable - if you suspend your disbelief - than the sequels did in the original 1970s versions. Based on man's genetic chemical experimentation to repair the human brain, the obvious choice for animal testing would put chimpanzees and other simians in the line of fire. Never satisfied with the original time-traveling Caeser baby throwback where chimpanzees replaced the exist dogs and cats as domestic pets and domestic servants before they eventually rebelled against their human masters, Rise of the Planet of the Apes uses modern thinking (no pun intended) to rationalize how an evolved species of animal would all of a sudden push into a new evolutionary cycle on its way to become the dominant species on the planet.

The effects are slick, the CGI a little ragged to the trained eye at the beginning but evolving into developed detailed characters as Caeser grows up. The intelligent look in Caeser's eyes as his capacity broadened pierces right through you. Without uttering a word, Caeser (powered and captured by Andy Serkis of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) conveys all the pain and knowing that the drugs endow in him. As the story rises up into a climatic confrontation on the Golden Gate Bridge, all the dazzle of what CGI can do comes to light as Caesar and his small army of enlightened apes square off against CHiPs, swat, local law enforcement and the Gen Sys executive Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo). The only other issue I had was that by the climax of the film, there seems to be an abundance of army apes that were not accounted for earlier in the story.

Brian Cox is notable as the less than savory primate sanctuary administrator John Landon, letting his son Dodge (played beautifully by Tom Felton) run the place like his own personal testing lab for abusing the animals and treating them worse than inmates. John Lithgow as Charles Rodman shows his acting range as William's father as his Alzheimer's rages and recedes with the introduction of the drugs William gives him. Freida Pinto is also on board as Caroline Aranha as a simian expert who ends up in a relationship with William. David Oyelowo stars as the Gen Sys executive Steven Jacobs whose only interest is profiting from William's pursuit of a viable cure. And David Hewlett stars as the angry neighbor Rodney who eventually answers the question of how a few intelligent apes even stand a chance or be victorious against the machinations of modern man.

Ferociously entertaining, Rise of the Planets of the Apes may give lifelong Planet of the Apes fans what they are looking for - a chance at a new franchise of the story they came to love. New fans should come away with a new appreciation for what is possible with a few new 'damn dirty apes'. The real question is whether fanatic fans will accept the CGI as the medium in which the apes are presented. Although the 2001 Tim Burton Planet of the Apes reboot was not glowingly received, at least Rick Baker's makeup still allowed man to embody monkey like the originals. Maybe as the technology evolves and integrates in silver screen storytelling, Ape fans may need to evolve as well.

WORTH: Friday Night Opening and BluRay

No comments:

Post a Comment