Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

As you may have seen during my last few posts, I'm quite a big Planet of the Apes fan, and have been incredibly excited about the newest film, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. James Franco stars as a genetic scientist attempting to find a cure for alzheimers disease. This drug is tested on an ape, resulting in highly increased signs of intelligence, it is not long until a battle for supremacy begins.

Director, Ruper Wyatt gives us an incredibly realistic and fresh approach to the Planet of the Apes saga. Rise reflects on humanity's scientific advances whilst also taking into account other social questions such as the morality behind animal testing. Despite covering similar ground to the fourth entry into the series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Rise feels like it has a far more believable and grounded approach.

Rise is being billed as an action movie, however, there's not a large amount of action in the film (about 1/5th of the film is the apes revolting) - it's far more of a scientific drama. There's some wonderful performances with a    strong lead performance from Franco, an underused Frieda Pinto and an excellent heart-wrenching turn from John Lithgow. In fact, it was a joy to see John Lithgow back on the big screen in a fairly major role. However, much praise should go to Andy Serkis, who's fantastic as Caesar, the main ape - he's unbelievably convincing.

When the film does get down to the action sequences, they're are visually impressive. There's a powerful scene with Caesar's mother attempting to escape the research facility, as well as a spectacular climax on the Golden Gate Bridge. The motion capture apes look phenomenal, but call me old fashioned - I'd rather see rubber ape masks.

There are several little tributes to the original films with Tom Felton murdering Charlton Heston's iconic 'damn dirty ape' line and several characters named after the film's original actors. However, as much as Heston was a big part of the first Planet of the Apes, Roddy McDowall had a far bigger impact on the series and it would have been nice to see him get a little mention. Despite these references to the original series, Rise feels incredibly detached from the original films, it feels far more like a glossy Hollywood production and it's hard to believe it's allegedly connected to the original film.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is fairly enjoyable addition to the Planet of the Apes series. It feels very realistic and features some touching moments and strong performances. However, in my opinion does not have the same fun and enjoyable feel that the original series, and even Tim Burton's reimaging had. However, a sequel is likely and the series does have time to grow. However, I'm still desperate to see the Spartacus style Planet of the Apes film to be made that I discussed here.

For my thoughts on the original Planet of the Apes saga take a look at these:

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