8.11.2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Movie Review

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
view trailer
**---

Let's face it. No one reads Curious George to see what's going on with the Man In The Yellow Hat. They want to know about that crazy monkey who does his shenanigans, gets into trouble, but comes out fine in the end. Well here we have Rise of the Planet of the Apes, an apparent prequel to Planet of the Apes which was an adaptation of the French Novel "La Plan├Ęte des singes," or rather "Monkey Planet." I guess there really isn't anything new under the sun.

Well, Rise of the Monkey Planet begins and plays out much like the first ten minutes of a zombie movie, but for roughly an hour and a half. It involves a bio technology that works better than expected (at least where chimps are involved) and then mankind gets to reap the benefits. This occurs first hand with Will Rodman (played by James Franco) who presents his cure for Alzheimers while a mother ape goes bananas in the lobby and breaks through the futuristic glass computer screen in the meeting room. We all know a meeting like this would take place with boring PowerPoint presentations, but I guess if it's realism we're looking for we're in the wrong theater. Needless to say, things don't pan out well for the investors, but Will at least gets to take home a consolation prize in the form of mother ape's baby. The baby ape soon meets Will's deteriorating grandfather (John Lithgow, in a role much less scary than what you've seen in Dexter or Blow Out) who names him Caesar.

Well, all hail Caesar, king of the apes and king of the actors. Caesar is played by Andy Serkis, who reprises his role as King Kong in a more sizable fashion, and who most people remember as Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Here he's in his element, and so are the special effects. Yes, it may be too reminiscent of Jumanji at times, but the film manages to find the particulars about the way that apes move and make them integral to the plot. Zombies might move fast these days, but you don't see them swinging from the trees.

The movie doesn't always work. The humans are never quite as entertaining as the monkeys. As far as this working as a reboot of a series, the script squeezes in some sort of mentioning of a mission to Mars, which I guess includes Charlton Heston on the ship. There's the peculiar feeling that not as much happens as there could have, and the strange feeling that James Franco's character is doing the right thing even though he's eventually responsible for killing off most of the humans on the planet. A better movie would have recognized this, or at least even mentioned it. Don't expect any big questions to be addressed.

The original Planet of the Apes played as a Freaky Friday of sorts, turning the leashes onto those who held them. Here at least we get to see apes escaping from San Francisco. Personally, if the movie really wanted to go the distance, I would have had them escape to Alcatraz and have it claimed as Ape Island.
But then again, as Carl from the Simpsons once said:
Carl: "I heard we're goin' to Ape Island"
Lenny: "Yeah, to capture a giant ape. I wish we were going to Candy Apple Island" Charlie: "Candy Apple Island? Whatta they got there?"
Carl: "Apes. But they're not so big"
In this case, they're pretty dang smart.

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