Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an amazing film that almost makes you root for CGI apes and hope they conquer humanity. Several personal experiences made the movie especially moving.

James Franco pays a scientist, Will Rodman, desperately trying to create a cure for schemers. His motivation is his father, Charles Rodman (John Lithgow), who's living with him despite being in the late stages of the disease.

This is the point that moved me the most. My own mother suffers from the early stages of Alzheimer's and I can imagine the desperation he must have felt.

An early mishap in the lab shelves the project despite five years of trials proving that it works. The project is canceled and he takes home an ape to save his life. In desperation he starts giving his father the drug. Overnight his father recovers meanwhile the chimp becomes smarter and smarter while becoming part of the family. Over the course of eight years events take a dramatic turn and Caesar becomes more than anyone could possibly imagine.

The acting if good, but sporadic. Franco is effective, but not engaging. Freida Pinto is charming, but clueless as Will's girlfriend and veterinarian. Lithgow is touching as he wavers between being normal and childlike.

The real breakout actor is Andy Serkis as the intelligent ape Caesar. Through body language and facial expressions he communications a full range of emotions and really makes us care. The special effects are good since the CGI rarely takes away from the film.

As Caesar is mistreated by one human after another, especially the sadistic guard of the Ape Sanctuary, he slowly realizes he can't trust the humans including his former friend. After establishing dominance and compassion he plans to free the other apes from their sanctuary prison. By this end, not one human character in the film is likable while the animals look like heroes. The breakout scene is dynamite and really moving as they make their way across San Francisco to freedom.

You actually find yourself rooting against the police trying to protect the citizens from a rampaging hoarde of simians. "Yeah, take that policeman protecting the baby out!" Ok, it's not that bad. I do feel a little guilty though.

Not surprisingly, the ending opens it up to a sequel.

After a string of disappointing blockbuster moves this is the best I've seen all year. Engaging and moving with great special effects this is a great film and I only hope the sequel lives up to it. After all, the planet belongs to the apes anyway.

Will you see Rise of the Planet of the Apes? If you've seen it what did you think? Comment or give it a rating!

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Michael Offutt said...

I agree with your review. This movie is/was amazing.


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