Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Directed By: Rupert Wyatt

Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, and Tom Felton

I can't lie.  I never was a big fan of the Planet of the Apes series.  We didn't have the technology to make it enjoyable in the past.  The apes always looked fake, and I was pretty critical of that.  Even in the 2001 flick Planet of the Apes, the monkeys were just humans in ape costumes.  In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the reboot to the well-known series, we finally have the technology to do what a film like this deserves.  We used apes to portray the apes.  Granted, they are digital apes created using motion-capture technology.  That being said, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a fun, thrilling sci-fi film that is a great way to reboot this series.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist determined to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease.  He develops a drug he believes will cure the disease and tests it on chimpanzees.  One of the chimps that exhibits significant cognitive improvements secretly has a baby and destroys Will's laboratory in an effort to protect her young.  Naturally, Will's superiors shut down his experiments and order the chimps to be put down.  Will, however, takes the newborn chimp to his home and raises him.  Will's father Charles (John Lithgow), who is afflicted with Alzheimer's disease, names the chimp Caesar (Andy Serkis).  At that time, neither Will nor Charles knows that this young chimp is brilliant and will lead a war against mankind for supremacy.

Rise of the Planet of he Apes is smart fun.  There are two things that make it a great summer flick-- brilliant acting by Andy Serkis and a great script.  You may remember Serkis for his collaborations with director Peter Jackson in King Kong and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  He portrayed King Kong and Gollum respectively.  Back in the familiar territory of portraying digitally created characters, Serkis shines as Caesar.  He really gives a masterful performance in the animal control facilities where Caesar transforms from a smart, innocent chimp into the architect of a monkey rebellion.  Serkis is an actor who can say everything without saying anything. He brings this brilliance to his portrayal of Caesar and once again captivates moviegoers.

As great as Serkis is in the flick, there must be a smart script brought to life by talented actors.  Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver deliver a simple but invigorating story that is at times heartwarming and at times thrilling.  Watching the young Caesar grow up with Will and Charles is good wholesome fun, but the Caesar that leads the revolution against mankind is a different ape altogether.  This Caesar brings the action and the suspense that make the film into a great summer blockbuster.  Also, actors such as James Franco, Brian Cox, and Tom Felton are no strangers to big blockbusters (e.g. Spider-Man, X-Men, and Harry Potter), and they deliver solid performances as expected.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a great film that passes the Sobriety Test with flying colors.  Andy Serkis gives another amazing performance using motion capture CGI.  Add some action, thrills, and laughs, and you get one truly entertaining and imaginative blockbuster.  It gets a 0.03% rating.  Have a banana wine cooler with this one!