Director: Rupert Wyatt (2011)
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Malfoy
Find it: IMDB
Having learnt nothing from 28 Days Later, James Franco experiments on chimpanzees, injecting them not with rage but with clever juice. Planet of the Apes ensues. Will Rodman (Franco) injects a test monkey with a strain of virus that allows the brain to heal itself. Not only does he hope it will cure his father's (Lithgow) Alzheimer's, but it makes the monkey darn smart too. But after Test Monkey goes apeshit and is killed whilst destroying a boardroom and attacking those present, Will's project is rubbished. All looks hopeless. And then Will discovers that Test Monkey had a son. Will adopts the thing, calling it Caesar and bringing him home. Caesar, though, is a very clever monkey, even going so far as to get James Franco a date. In your face, Nim Chimpsky.
I've not seen a Planet Of The Apes film in years, and even then nothing beyond the Charlton Heston original and the Tim Burton atrocity. The Burton remake is particularly confusing in that I truly had the hots for Helena Bonham Carter as an ape.
There are no sexy apes in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, although it is effortlessly a better movie than Burton's. Whilst it's not as good as the Heston original, this prequel has a few bits new to the franchise and a sense of intelligence missing from most other blockbusters. It's set in almost present day, on an Earth still ruled by humans. As humans go, James Franco and John Lithgow are jolly good ones. You'll really get to feel for their plight as the movie progresses. As a threesome, Will, Rodman Sr and Caesar become a very sweet family unit. They're eventually joined by a mostly pointless Freida Pinto love interest, who plays a cute vet. Shit gets real as Caesar begins to question his origins, eventually leading to his incarceration in monkey prison. Monkey prison, by the way, is ruled by Brian Cox and Draco Malfoy.
Poor Malfoy, typecast so young. Malfoy plays Malfoy, but with pubes and an American accent. He terrorises Caesar and the other monkeys so hard that you'll have started to side with the apes by the time that the third act rolls about. Aside from the Rodmans, Pinto and a chubby scientist, the humans in this movie are all pretty unsympathetic. Andy Serkis's Caesar is the most sympathetic character in Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes.
This despite some iffy CGI. Much has been made of the motion capture and CGI technology in this film, but not once was I convinced that I was watching real apes. And honestly, I liked the crappy makeup in the previous Apes films. Still, it has its moments. I particularly enjoyed the creepier scenes, like the chimps' parliament in monkey prison. The action, whilst delayed, is very well done. I'd have been quite happy to sit through a two hour movie in which the apes do nothing but trash the place. There are nice little touches too, referencing the Heston original. I had genuine shivers at one particular, climactic moment.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is an invigorating shot up the arse for a franchise dulled by cheap sequels and Mark Wahlberg. A good modern Planet Of The Apes movie. God help them, they finally did it.