Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes

My father introduced me to science fiction. He loved it, and he especially loved The Planet of the Apes franchise.
I think he'd be surprised to note that The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, some 44 years after the first one, is actually a prequel.
The movie immediately sets up your sympathy -- no, really, your empathy -- for the chimpanzees and their plight as secondary to man. And, because of this, and the cruelty and brutality you'll witness in many scenes, there will be heartache after heartache.
This movie is done very well, with a superb story and special effects. Notable above all is Andy Serkis' performance as Caesar, who brings home day-old chimpanzee baby by scientist Will Rodman (James Franco), on the day Rodman's career comes tumbling down due to a miscue. Will continues to raise Caesar while caring for his dad (played by John Lithgow), who is obviously slipping irrevocably into Alzheimer's. Caesar, as it turns out, inherits the drug Will and his fellow scientists had injected into his mother, increasing the chimp's intelligence many times over, and so Will gets the idea to (illegally and unethically) inject his father with the same drug.
There are many homages to the original series, including several names given to some of the secondary characters, And Tom Felton's character, a worker inside the chimp house where Caesar eventually ends up, is given several pieces of dialogue from the original. If you're familiar with PotA, it's a lot of fun.
The movie doesn't follow PotA canon at all, and I wonder that, if they continue with sequels which are prequels, how they would try to make that all mesh. However, I really enjoyed the ride and tried not to think about that too much. There are certainly several scenes that, if "I wonder how they did that?" didn't rise to your lips, your mouth certainly flew open. The scenes on the Golden Gate Bridge, especially, were stunning.
I think my father would've enjoyed this movie, although, frankly, his favorite scenes were between Charlton Heston and "those damn, dirty apes," played by Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter. Who could not love intelligent conversations between chimps and Ben-Hur? Sadly -- or thankfully -- there was nothing resembling those scenes here. But if there are more pre- sequels, there certainly may be. And I'll be there for it.
Thumb's up.


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