Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rupert Wyatt

Rise of the Planet of the Apes Rupert Wyatt
They say familiarity breeds contempt, but in Hollywood, the opposite is true: familiarity breeds giant bucketfuls of money. Franklin J. Schaffner's blockbuster 1968 adaptation of Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel, Planet of the Apes, spawned four sequels, two TV series (one live action, one animated) and an endless litany of cultural references, parodies and memes. While Tim Burton's unconventional 2001 remake was seen as a disappointment and wasn't the modern kick-start Fox's bigwigs had hoped for, old apes die hard, leading to director Rupert Wyatt's prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. A surprising summertime sleeper, the new Apes movie was tellingly originally subtitled "Genesis," and sets up the beginnings of the series, as our world is over-run by super-smart simians. Rise is largely a tale of science messing around with nature, with James Franco as benevolent scientist Will Rodman, hard at work developing a new medication meant to slow the process of Alzheimer's, repairing damaged brain material. After one of Rodman's test chimps runs amok, the project is cancelled and the chimps are "relocated," save for a remaining baby that Rodman adopts and names Caesar. Over the years, Caesar develops an intelligence far beyond that of the common ape, but after the overly protective chimp gets into an altercation with Rodman's blowhard neighbour, he's sent to a primate rescue facility, which actually turns out to be an evil primate rescue facility. Rise spends the vast majority of its running time setting up its story in anticipation of a massive set-piece on the Golden Gate Bridge, which serves as the film's climax, and as such, feels largely like the first part of a series rather than a stand-alone film. A cautionary tale that warns against playing God, putting profit over safety and the inevitable monkey apocalypse, Rise works best as a classic "nature gone awry" film, and while it sets up its story with care, the crucial events that tee off the epic primate disaster are predicated on such an odd set of happenstance that it almost negates the film's entire conceit. While Franco unfortunately brings none of his trademark quirkiness to his straight-laced scientist, Andy Serkis steals the show as Caesar, in his CGI-aided monkey suit. As a bonus, the DVD is packaged with a featurette on the use of motion-capture technology that allows for a greater appreciation of Serkis's acrobatic work in the film, illuminating just how useless most effects are without a human component to add truth and verisimilitude. (Fox)