Will Rodman (James Franco) develops a cure for Alzheimer’s which he tests on monkeys- these chimpanzees then develop extreme cognitive skills. As we found out after making an Emotions app for our IPads, once we make anything more intelligent than ourselves, we’re doomed. Such is the premise for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
I am a mild fan of the originals and not at all a fan of the 2001 remake, and this new addition falls somewhere in the middle. The story line was compelling, though there was a lot less gorilla-rips-off-man’s-head moments. The first hour and a half play like some infomercial concerning animal testing. And then in the last 30 minutes, all hell breaks loose.
After one of the test chimpanzees goes nuts and destroys a laboratory, the evil animal-testing facility puts down all of them. Because they’re evil and greedy, obviously. But then Rodman discovers a baby chimpanzee who inherited the super genes. As he grows up, Rodman realizes this monkey is smarter than the average bear. The project to cure Alzheimer’s is rebooted. Until Caesar (the chimpanzee played by Andy Serkis) goes beserk on a jerk neighbor and must be sent to a chimp facility.
There, an employee played by Tom Felton tortures him and demeans him until well… in the end, apes take over the world.
So, basically, Draco Malfoy is at fault for the extinction of the human race.
Well, James Franco’s performance was decent, if uninspiring. He plays a brooding intellectual, but Franco’s thinking expression translates as a “high on pot” expression. Which is rather blank. In moments of passion, however, he stands out.
Andy Serkis is certainly the star: his facial expressions are pricelessly human, which makes the concept all the more intriguing.
Tom Felton’s American accent is not great, and he is scripted into a one-dimensional role. As much as I like his acting, I feel like they cheated him here. He did, however, get the grisliest send-off and utter the best nostalgic line: “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
Remember this is a prequel and if the X-men franchise taught us anything, once you make a prequel, feel free to change everything about the story. I’m not sure that the film was exactly loyal to the original story, but it did make more sense.
All in all, this science fiction thriller felt more smart than thrilling, which is fine. The motifs reverberated violently in some scenes. The film reminded me vastly of Gattica of it infusing action and scientific intrigue. If you’re a fan of the original, go ahead and see it, but otherwise, this might be a film you should wait to see on DVD
Oh, also there’s an orangutan and gorilla. So, you know, gorillas are cool.