Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This should have just been Rise of the
Planet of the Apes. Rise of the Apes has a much cleaner ring to it. But of course, then how would people know this is a re-imagining of the old Planet of the Apes series? I haven’t seen the originals, only the Mark Wahlberg reboot.
So, is this worth going to?
Yes. I’m going to say with confidence that I enjoyed this movie over every other summer blockbuster that’s come out so far. Yes, more than X-Men: First Class, more than Captain America, more than Transformers… This film entertained me on an “Explosions!” level but it also intrigued me with the characterization of the hyper-intelligent ape Caesar. Andy Serkis (of Lord of the Rings and King Kong fame) once again delivers an amazing CGI performance as Caesar, who we follow from birth until the revolution which would change the world.
I was concerned that the trailer gave away everything. And mostly… it does. But that doesn’t stop the movie from pulling you in and holding you tight and making you watch the transformation right in front of you. I knew how the movie would end (essentially) but the journey is an amazing one still.
Let’s talk about the human characters. James Franco serves his purpose but it’s a little unconvincing that he is smart enough to create this super cure. John Lithgow is convincing as Franco’s Alzheimers-ridden father and serves as the emotional center of the film, until Caesar starts carrying that burden. Brian Cox and the dude that played Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter are both bad guys that really just serve as a catalyst for the rebellion. But they do it well.
It’s not because of James Franco or Brian Cox or even little Malfoy that I’m recommending this movie.
From the moment that Caesar is first shown on screen, this movie belongs to him. Even though he doesn’t speak, you know exactly what’s happening in his head. You see the pain, the sorrow, and then the determination. Watching him rally the other apes and eventually lead an uprising against their human captors is an extremely satisfying and terrifying story to watch. A few people have expressed their concerns that there’s no way apes could take over human civilization. There’s guns, tanks, and other modern weapons that would destroy an ape uprising. But this movie sells it. They don’t take over the entire world, but they definitely score a victory. And the climax is one of the most engaging final battles I’ve seen in recent memory.
This is an amazing story, with great character work on characters that you find out are much more like you than you’d like to believe. The action scenes are believable and convincing. This is the epitome of the summer blockbuster but it also carries an emotional and intriguing throughline that will give it some definite weight as the starting point for a new trilogy of Apes films.