|Rise of the Planet of the Apes|
If you are reading this the apes have won… Or at least they’ve won over audiences with back to back weekends at the box office and glowing reviews. It’s one of those things you can’t believe until you see it. “Really people like this movie? This?” and now that I’ve seen it I get it and I’m glad I went to it. Who would have thought you could breathe some fresh air into a franchise that as far as I’m concerned has been dead for forty years?
Sure, this bears little resemblance to the franchise made famous by Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall, but Rise still embodies the original series’ spirit of rebelling against an over controlling society and it’s only about a million times better than that god awful Tim Burton fiasco.
Summed up, Rise is about scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) and his search for a cure for Alzheimers, which his dad Dick Solomon, I mean John Lithgow suffers. The serum and later some kind of gas I guess is tested on apes, vastly increasing their intelligence, notably in the test subject’s offspring that Franco names Caesar (Andy Serkis.) After the collapse of the project, we find Will raising and bonding with Caesar while advancing his research. Yadda, yadda, Caesar misbehaves, ends up in an ape rescue, and leads the apes to rebel against society.
The plot is more or less one of those “man plays god with nature” morality tales that Michael Crichton might have dreamed up in his prime. Though the scientific aspect is clearly rushed it keeps the rhythm of the film loose and exciting. The filmmakers have found a delicate balance where the senses aren’t too overloaded by mindless action or pointless scientific jargon. It’s pacing is light and fun but it still has something to say, so I suppose you could say it’s the thinking man’s summer blockbuster.
Appropriately, Rise operates much in the same way as some of the most entertaining action sci-fi flicks of the 70s, like Soylent Green or Omega Man (both with Charlton Heston). Those films regarded as fun but with a social conscious. So it’s refreshing to see a movie that although appearing to be made for no more than monetary gain actually has a story, something I haven’t received much this summer.
I don’t know that it would have been possible to make this movie without it being silly so that’s something that didn’t bother me. The original is silly, so I’m not going to criticize this movie for being “out there.” One last thing before I wrap this up is that I must give praise to the motion capture work of the apes. It’s amazing how much they could carry the plot. In a way, the apes are the real stars here and James Franco is kind of like a prop. So if you haven’t already, I recommend you see the latest in this lengthy franchise, it’s a nice break from movies that just go “Boom, boom, bam!” guess that means it’s time to split.