Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Dir: Rupert Wyatt
Star: James Franco, Freida Pinto, Andy Serkis, David Oyelowo

Trash City
Top 10: 2011
A decade after the mediocrity which was Tim Burton's effort at a reboot, Fox try again, and this time, with a good more success. It cranks the scenario back to the beginning, when researcher Will Rodman (Franco) is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's, trying out a viral antidote on chimpanzees. It appears promising, but an unfortunate incident leads to the project being shut down, and all the animals put down - except for one, a young monkey that Rodman sneaks out and raises. He soon discovers that Caesar (Serkis) as he is named, is extremely smart and over the next few years, continues to grow, both in size and intelligence. An incident with a neighbour forces Will to hand Caesar over to a dubious animal sanctuary, but that simply gives Caesar a primate posse. Meanwhile, Will has continued his research and developed an even more powerful virus, but it doesn't work quite as well on humans. And when Caesar escapes from the sanctuary and gets his hands on it, the stage is set for The Great Escape, chimp-style.

Probably the finest praise I can give this, is that it actually makes sense. All the questions you had about this get answered and the scenario described seems at least plausible. It's also interesting to note how the apes are the bad guys: well, from a humanoid stand-point, they certainly are, but Caesar is given far more motivation than most villains, and mankind is largely responsible for its own destruction. Wyatt also has a nice subtle touch with the scenes showing Caesar interacting with others of his kind; largely told without dialogue [for obvious reasons], they still succeed in progressing the plot and developing characters. If only the relationship between Will and vet Caroline Aranha (Pinto) was as well-constructed; it's basically irrelevant. Still, the movie certainly has a couple of "oooh!" moments - that's a good description of the reaction they got in the theatre, anyway - and when the mayhem finally is unleashed, for an extended rampage through the streets of San Francisco, it's thoroughly satisfying. Definitely a cut above the usual big-budget blockbuster.

[August 2011]

Serkis performer
See also... [Index] [Next] [Previous] [TC Home Page]