Bottom Line: True monkey business. Where is Charlton Heston when we need him?
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, James Franco
1968 saw the release of PLANET OF THE APES, the first adaptation of Pierre Boulle’s French sci-fi novel of the same name. The film became an instant classic and inspired many follow-ups. It was in 2001 that another adaptation was made to the novel by Tim Burton, putting it in reverse, one could say. This shoddy remake of sorts should have been enough reason to leave the series, the concept, the story alone, but apparently it wasn’t.
Fast forward ten years later, to 2011. Now we have Rupert Wyatt, a director who is adapting the timeless story not for a remake, but for a prequel entitled RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. In this story of origin, we have Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist developing a cure for Alzheimer’s (though apparently it’s supposed to cure other mental dysfunctions, as well). To test the drug, he uses gene therapy on chimpanzees. After a test, a chimpanzee goes on a rampage, sensing that her baby is in peril, resulting in her own death. After the unexpected situation, an animal professional is ordered to treat every single test chimp via euthanasia. When the professional struggles to euthanize one baby chimp (possibly the film’s only relief), Will takes the baby home, cares for him, and names him Caesar. It isn’t long before Will realizes Caesar has inherited the strong level of intelligence from his mother.
With the exception of the unintentional humor the apes bring, the entertainment level for RISE is just fine. It’s the low fidelity this heeds to its original from 43 years before that makes it such a confusing movie. Yes, believe it or not, it has been that many years, and this is an attempt to provide a backstory to the original from that long ago. With the strictly urban setting, the overflow of action sequences and special effects, and the overwhelming sense of futurism, RISE is 110% 2011, and it bears not the slightest bit of possibility that it could have been made similarly just shortly after the original film. Okay, maybe the film’s decency rose when HARRY POTTER’s Tom Felton delivered possibly the most memorable line in all animal movie history, that has been featured in just about every APES movie since the very first. Had that line not been delivered and the title not included the series’ name, it’d be very hard to tell that this had any relation to the classic it precedes. (Where is Charlton Heston when we need him???)
Note: The title is RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Why not just add another “of the” statement and make yourselves sound completely unprofessional?