Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Running Time: 108 mins
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is an American film about a scientist who engineers a potential cure for alzheimer’s disease, and gives rise to a hyper-intelligent ape who leads a primate uprising against the humans who have been testing on them for years.
This is a hugely intelligent and massively entertaining reboot of a franchise that never really got going after the very first Planet Of The Apes. It’s not only an exciting action film, but has some very dark, dramatic undertones to it, featuring a very convincing portrayal of the apocalypse, whilst it also succeeds on an emotional level, as you’re tied very closely to the main character, an ape named Caesar, and that all comes together to make a wholly engrossing watch.
I’ll start with what is the most notable thing about this reboot franchise: the visuals. They are stunning. Even after 3 years, I find it hard to understand how on earth they not only make the monkeys look so realistic, but how their movements and actions are so swift and life-like, but it’s a trick that really pays off, and makes this story much more believable than you’d expect.
In terms of the story, it’s a consistent, well-paced and intriguing ride. Even the half an hour before we really start to see any thought of the rise of the planet of the apes is really interesting, because it really makes it feel like you’re watching the creation of the drug that could very well end the world.
Fortunately, despite a little worry at the beginning, I didn’t think that the animal testing message here was too preachy, nor was the ‘don’t play God’ or animal abuse part of the subtext, however they were an integral part of the story, and that really did help to make it more dramatic without ever being frustrating.
One thing that works fantastically well in this film is the way in which it makes great characters, not just out of the humans, but the apes too. James Franco’s character is clearly flawed, but you get to know him well enough that you can accept his role in giving rise to an ape super-race because of his personal emotions.
However, I was amazed at how well this film manages to create the character of Caesar. Normally, it’s tough to really sympathise with animal characters, other than fearing for their lives because they’re cute, but here, Caesar is a very deep, complex and intriguing character whose development throughout the film really drives the central storyline, and your support for him does create a weird dilemma where you end up supporting the harbingers of the apocalypse…
Overall, I’ll give this an 8.1, due to its fantastic visuals, strong character development, intriguing and convincing story and a finally successful reboot of Planet Of The Apes.