Let's be honest with ourselves. This summer has not been the greatest movie wise. It's been kind of weak actually, with the lackluster Green Lantern opening it up and things have gone down hill from there. Then I heard of another Planet of the Apes movie, which after the last one seemed like a horrible idea. Let it die, I said. It's a franchise pushing fifty and Tim Burton's remake fest did nothing to help the cause of re-introducing damn dirty apes to the public.
Planet of the Apes was one of the staples growing up, along with Star Wars. There is still a Planet of the Apes trash can sitting at my moms house as I write this (any offers?). I was cautious about this film, with its predecessor and the fact it was getting the August end of summer release date which usually isn't a good sign. Shockingly, I will admit how wrong I was about the Apes for a new generation.
Rise is pure prequel that follows Will Rodman (James Franco) in his quest to cure Alzheimer's with a drug that repairs lost brain cells. After a catastrophic event that sets his research back by a decade he ends up caring for a baby chimp named Caesar (Andy Serkis) that has inherited that enhanced IQ of his mother and develops even faster than a human child. Caesar is raised as a human, yet doesn't fit in. He doesn't know where he falls in the ways of the world, being shunned by humans and apes. Eventually he makes a choice after seeing the suffering and indignities laid upon his fellow travelers.
The key to Rise of the Planet of the Apes are the performances, mainly by the CGI enhanced apes themselves. There's more feeling and emotion from the faux primates than their human counterparts, yet it's not over the top, cartoony emotion. It's buried underneath the face of the wild. It's subtle, yet it's not. This is very difficult to explain. By the second half of the film they steal the show. Once again an Apes film delivers state of the art special effects, although they are comparable to the invention of a stone wheel and a Corvette. That's progress.
Apes is the best movie I've seen this summer and probably this year. It could be accused of being a little slow in the beginning, but it keeps you interested and that's they key to the movie. I don't care how much stuff you blow up in the second half, if you fail to keep people interested with a good story all will be lost. The length doesn't bludgeon the film as we've seen in the last few years and it succeeds from it. A great flick to end the summer with.