Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rise of The Planet of The Apes

A smart script and some terrific CGI work make this prequel a plausible and exciting explanation for the eventual "planet of the apes". James Franco stars as a scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer's by testing his drugs on chimps. When things go wrong with a test subject, he ends up raising the remaining baby chimp, whom he names "Caesar", at his home. It soon becomes clear that Caesar's mother has past on the genetic codes to make him super smart and things progress from there.

Mr. Franco and co-star Frieda Pinto are pretty much eye candy as the "good" humans and Tom Felton does his "Draco Malfoy" evil bit as a sadistic kennel worker. John Lithgow plays Mr. Franco's father who has just a few scenes but one that is very key to the story. Brian Cox is under-used as another "bad" human but in a film like this, all the "bad" guys get their due. The CGI work, as stated, is really is terrific but the real star of the film is the motion capture work done by Andy Serkis who bring remarkable life to Caesar.

There are some clever nods to the original film and the plot evolves naturally to set up the outcome we all know and expect.. The film does leave room for a sequel that can still fill in some gaps between the timelines but specific bits and pieces make the evolution pretty clear. The climax on the Golden Gate Bridge is very exciting enhanced by a strong musical score. The one unfortunate part of the film is the brutal mistreatment of Caesar and the other chimps which, while very important to drive the revolt, is hard to watch. It should also make you sad to consider how, in real life, some people continue to mistreat animals. In that respect, this science fiction can also be seen as a cautionary tale for mankind.

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