¨Ape alone…weak. Apes together strong.¨
2011 has brought us yet another sequel/prequel; this time producers decided to reboot the Planet of the Apes franchise which began way back in 1968 starring Charlton Heston, and was based on Pierre Boulle`s famous novel. Since then numerous sequels have been made, but none of them really equaled the success of the original film. Relatively unknown director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) was given the task to take charge of this project and try to reboot the entire franchise by directing this prequel. It tells the story of how the apes may have conquered the planet. The script was written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver who hadn’t written a script for a movie since 1997 (Eye for an Eye). Rise of the Planet of the Apes may have had all the right ingredients to be a huge failure; I really wasn`t expecting a good movie since I`m not really a big fan of the franchise and the director and writers were relatively unknown as well, but to my surprise this science fiction film worked really well and far surpasses its predecessors. First of all, the story is really well written and I found most of it very believable (taking into account that it is science fiction of course). Second, the effects were great; the apes looked real and the CGI was used perfectly. In the other films the apes looked more like humans wearing ape costumes and makeup. Third and most importantly, the apes are actually the central characters of the film. Humans are simply secondary characters in this film and the apes get all the attention.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is working on an important experiment trying to find a cure for Alzheimer`s disease by genetically enhancing chimpanzees. He seems to have reached a major milestone when one of his apes, Bright Eyes, begins to develop his brain at a much faster rate than the rest. While he is presenting the results to his boss, Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo), the ape becomes aggressive and has to be put down. They believed that the aggression took place as a side effect of the drug, but Will soon realizes that Bright Eyes was only trying to protect her new born baby which the scientists had no idea about. Will takes the baby home with him and realizes that Caesar is no ordinary ape. The drug seems to have genetically been passed down to him and Caesar becomes much smarter as he grows up. Will realizes that the drug is effective so decides to use it on his ill father, Charles (John Lithgow) who recovers instantly from Alzheimer`s. One day Caesar has a small incident with a neighbor and Will decides to take him to the vet; Caroline (Freida Pinto) realizes that Will and Caesar have a strong bond and she instantly falls in love with them. Years go by and the three enjoy their life and spend a lot of time taking Caesar to the National Park in San Francisco. However, Charles becomes ill again and the drug seems to have lost his effect on him. Caesar has another incident with a neighbor and has to be taken to an animal shelter where he is mistreated be Dodge (Tom Felton). Caesar soon becomes resentful and finds shelter in his new found friends: other apes that live with him in the shelter. Caesar will soon prove to them that he is no ordinary ape and thus the revolution begins.
The thing I enjoyed the most about this film was that the apes became the center of the story. Caesar was actually the main character and Andy Serkis (who also did the body motion for Sméagol in The Lord of the Rings franchise) did a great job at expressing the ape`s emotions. Caesar/Andy Serkis is the true star of the film and the emotional depth his character is given is what makes the movie work. The special effects are great as well. The final scene is your typical summer movie action scene, but the movie is just much more than that. I thought the story worked really well and there were also several small details that were put in the movie that fans can identify as things related to earlier films of the ape franchise. James Franco and Freida Pinto also have good chemistry together although their roles aren`t as important because the true center of the film revolves on the apes. I thought this was a great film and it will certainly reboot a franchise that in my opinion was dead. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not because I really long for some new and fresh ideas in Hollywood, but at least they are improving with the sequels. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a Summer movie worth checking out.