While researching a possible cure for Alzheimers and testing the formula on lab chimpanzees, Will Rodman discovers that it also increases brain function. When an presentation goes wrong, Will takes home a new born chimp who received the formula through his mother. The chimp begins to display amazing learning skills.
Another origin story, this time for the five movies that comprised the Planet of the Apes stories which started in 1968 and finished in 1973. The story also inspired a live action television show as well as an animated one. The original Planet of the Apes was remade in 2001 by Tim Burton to mostly negative reviews.
While other movies dealt with the planet once apes had evolved and gained control of it, Rise bridges the gap between a normal, human infested world, and what the world would be. It doesn’t follow the story to complete dominance but it points out the direction in a clear and dramatic way.
From the start Will Rodman, played by James Franco, appears to be the human face of GEN–SYS, the massive corporation looking to make money from medicine. The star of the movie though is Caeser, the chimpanzee played through motion capture by Andy ‘Gollum‘ Serkis. His acting is at least on a par with his work in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and should garner him many awards for this role.
From the beginning, the movie favors the side of the apes with several not so nice humans making it a lot easier to root for the apes. If the goal of the movie was to understand how much humans can be, well, inhuman, then that goal is achieved.
A lot of the movie doesn’t involve dialogue as the actions and expressions of the various apes convey so much. Infact, it works so well that the viewer may not notice that for five minutes there has been no words heard.
A note about the very special effects that once again were created by the New Zealand company WETA Digital, the company responsible for the aforementioned Lord of the Rings. Whereas all previous movies have used masks on the actors, through the magic of motion capture and incredibly advanced computer graphics, the apes are so much more animated, with the ability to use their faces to express so many more emotions than previously before. The special effects truly cannot be faulted at all.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a thought provoking movie that imparts of feeling that humanity isn’t just for humans. Perhaps this is the best of the ‘Apes’ movies so far and one that is primed for a sequel showing just how the take over is finally completed.