As a kid, I was a massive fan of PLANET OF THE APES
. I watched all the movies, tuned into both the live-action and animated TV shows, collected the Mego action figures, and even read POTA
comic books. As you can probably imagine, I was glad to hear that Fox was planning to give the franchise another go on the big screen. However, I was also skeptical of what sort of film we may end up getting since the last attempt -- Tim Burtonís 2001 remake -- well, sucked.
So as you can imagine, I went into this new one -- RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES -- a bit pessimistic, but hoping that we may get something that was at least ďOK.Ē
Well, Iím here today to inform you all that RISE is not ďOKĒ -- itís really good!
Ignoring all that came before it, RISE takes the BATMAN BEGINS route and totally reboots the POTA film franchise.
Itís the story of how the tide began to turn when it came to the power hierarchy of Earthís simians and humans. This story is told via the point of view of a chimpanzee named Caesar (Any Serkis -- who gives a simply phenomenal performance underneath the CGI).
Born in a test lab, Caesar is exposed to a scientifically created virus that alters his brain and gives him human-level intelligence. Caesar leaves the lab as a newborn chimp and is raised like a human by the kind scientist (James Franco) who produced the virus. After an ďaltercationĒ with a neighbor, Caesar is taken away by the authorities and placed in some sort of ape refuge -- which is actually the farthest thing from ďsafe placeĒ one could imagine. The abuse suffered by Caesar and the other primates then sews the seeds for the eventual revolt against human dominance.
Straight up, I donít recall the last time I was as emotionally involved with a character in a film -- and Iím not talking about Francoís Dr. Will Rodman either. The ďpersonĒ that the audience will get attached to and root for is Caesar. The fact that filmís hero is a CGI-produced chimpanzee makes that fact even more impressive.
Heck, by the time RISE reaches its climax, I was totally cheering for Caesar and his ape army to kick some major human ass! Yes, the apes are the heroes and the humans -- sans the characters played by Franco, John Lithgow (Will Rodman's Alzheimerís stricken father), and Freida Pinto (Rodman's veterinarian girlfriend) -- are the bad guys.
Unlike the original 1968 film (and its sequels), RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES isnít really a social commentary of race relations or nuclear war. No, I think the message here is that the more Man tries to control the natural world and his own destiny, the more likely these efforts will lead to his downfall and destruction.
All in all, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is what I'd call a "scifi action drama" -- perhaps more heavy on the drama than the action. It's poignant, though never preachy. Thereís enough action -- in the finale particularly -- to satisfy the average Summer moviegoer who craves that sort of stuff. And the CGI-apes? They look as real as real can be. Awesome work by WETA!
Manís ultimate fate is alluded to at the end of the film and during the closing credits -- so make sure you stay for the ending after the end. As far as what happens to this planet now that the apes have risen, well, thatís wide open.
Yes, the apes are the heroes of this film, but will they turn into villains in the future? As for as Man, will he ever return to the Planet of the Apes?
I for one, certainly want to find out.