There have been a few different variations of the origin of how it all began, the background of the ape we know as Caesar. Until now the origin just wasn't all that well told and seemed more silly than anything. Well with the release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes we get a very well thought out and more realistic approach as to how Caesar became king of the apes and ruler of the world.
Rise is directed by relatively new comer Rupert Wyatt, and I say new comer because he doesn't have a lot of directing experience behind him. He quickly shows us that he has the chops to bring you in and get you lost in the story, of how one man's dream becomes a haunting reality for the world to come. Wyatt really knows how to set the tone and bring heart and feelings to the characters on the screen. He gives the movie time to breathe and build up to what is going to be the showdown between man and ape. The pace, for the most part felt right. It didn't feel sluggish at any time and it never really felt rushed. Though I wished that they spent a little bit more time developing the female vet's character played by Freida Pinto a little more. That would have made the romance for James Franco's character a little more believable.
The movie was written Rick Jaffa and also credited was Pierre Boulle(author of the novel Planet of the Apes). The story made for a very interesting tale of how Caesar rose from a monkey that was born in Gen-Sys lab, to the king of the apes. The story itself is a tale of genetic testing on chimpanzees. Gen-Sys is testing a new experimental drug that is supposed to be the cure for Alzheimers. On one chimpanzee, by the name Brighteyes, a breakthrough is found with this cure. The father of the cure is Will Rodman, played by James Franco. He wants to start testing on humans. During the meeting with the department heads, Brighteyes escapes and starts to cause pandaemonium at the lab. The project is shut down and the remaining chimps are to be euthanized. This is where Casear is found. Brighteyes wasn't being violent, she as protecting her newborn chimp. Will is given the task of either take the chimp home or euthanize it.
I thought James Franco did a great job portraying Will. He brought the right amount of emotion and humility to the character. At home Will has his father, played wonderfully by John Lithgow. His father is dying of Alzheimers. Will decides to test the drug on his father and finds out it works. By this time Caesar is now three years old.
After further testing, the drug just does not do his father any good and he succumbs to the disease. With this, Will works on another drug, a more powerful drug that will not only cure the disease but one that the body will not create antibodies for.
There are a lot of great performances here, from Franco, to Lithgow, Brian Cox and Harry Potter's own Tom Felton. The story works well and gives us a great beginning to the refresh of the franchise. Though the person who steals the show is Andy Serkis. He pulls of an amazing performance as Caesar. Andy Serkis did the motion capture acting which would be used by the animated Simian. So much emotion comes trhough Caesar and you really begin to feel for this CG chimp.
This brings us onto EFFECTS. Weta again has done an amazing job bringing these apes to life on the big screen. These are some of the best effects I have seen on screen recently. Not saying there weren't some faults in the effects. There were a few scenes I found that seemed a little out of place, mostly when groups of apes would be running against a lighter backdrop did they seem a little out of place. Not so much though that it distracted from the movie. Those type of scenes only lasted for mere seconds so it didn't pull you out of the movie. What Weta did with their CG and mo-cap actors is amazing and the apes really do steal the show.
This was a movie that when I first of heard of it and first started seeing things from it, really didn't feel like it was going to be done right. The more I saw though the more I started to think that Rise could be the dark horse of the summer. I feel that it most certainly is. This is one of those movies that you aren't expecting to be much but when you go see it, it kicks you in the butt and makes you believe. Apes is truly an experience and you won't be disappointed by it. One Easter Egg. Stay for the credits. There has always been that question of how could the Apes survive when there are 7 Billion people in the world. That gets answered in the credits.
I would highly recommend seeing this in the theatre, it's not to be missed. I give Rise of the Planet of the Apes a strong 4 out of 5.