Towards the end of the clumsily-named Rise of the Planet of the Apes, I found myself siding with the monkeys (sorry, I mean apes). These expertly computer-generated creatures had character and cohesion, not to mention smarts. They also upstaged the slightly hammy performances of James Franco and David Oyelowo; whether that’s praising Andy Serkis or not, I’m unsure.
Franco plays a neuroscientist who believes he has developed a cure for Alzheimer’s. After successful chimp trials, the drug is prepared for human use. However, when the test subjects start to show extraordinary side effects, events quickly take a turn for the worse (or ‘go ape-shit’, if you like).
Caesar, the orphaned son of one of the lab primates, begins to develop remarkable intelligence. When he is locked up in an animal shelter under the care of Brian Cox, he starts plotting retribution against the humans who incarcerated him. This revenge turns out to be swift and brutal, paving the way for the original Planet of the Apes, of which this film is a prequel. He is in no short measure aided by mankind’s self-destruction, though to reveal exactly how that occurs would be a crippling spoiler.
There’s not a lot to say about Rise of the Planet of the Apes that hasn’t already been said. However, one aspect of this film worth praising above all others is how slick and consistently paced it is: you won’t see a solider blockbuster all summer. Perhaps, it is a little on the short side — though arguably the public might refuse to sit through a movie that exceeds a 105 minute runtime. Regardless, few pictures this year have contained less flaws. It is remarkable that the film betrays its original trailers, which were awful and evidently unflattering. Rather, it is more reminiscent of the vastly improved third trailer — rarely does such inconsistency occur in a film’s publicity.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes isn’t the most creative film of the year, nor is it the best acted, the most interesting or the most intense. But I will abstain from criticising it; ignore the platitudes above, this is one tight action flic.