Rise of the Planet of the Apes stars James Franco as dedicated scientist Will Rodman, who works at a successful pharmaceutical company in San Francisco and, along with his team, aims to develop a formula that enhances and repairs brain tissue – and that could become the cure to Alzheimer's.
Will's commitment to the experiment is fueled in part by his father's (John Lithgow) slow health deterioration due to Alzheimer's.
Unfortunately, the lab's experiments, which are performed on chimpanzees, cost the company exorbitant expenses, and eventually Will's boss (David Oyelow) decides to shut down the experiment.
However, when Will notices that one of the chimps exhibits signs of high intelligence, he sneaks him home – where his father also lives – and raises him as part of the family, while also documenting the chimp's development. Caesar (the chimp, played by Andy Serkis in a CGI motion-capture performance) grows, literally and figuratively, into a large and extraordinarily intelligent creature that is far too dangerous for the suburban surroundings he lives in.
Eventually, Caesar is taken away by local animal protective services and is locked up in a "shelter", run by father and son duo John and Dodge Landon (played by Brian Cox and Tom Felton, respectively) where he plots his escape – and revenge.
Directed by Rupert Wyatt, the movie acts as a prequel to the 1968 film, Planet of the Apes. Wyatt did an astounding job with the direction. It was absolutely thrilling and engaged me as a viewer, all throughout the film.
When it came to visuals, the cinematography was beautiful and was skillfully shot. There are beautifully shot scenes of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.
When referring to the visuals, I must give the highest praise to the incredible special effects! I could not, for one second, believe that the apes "acting" in this movie were not real (they were all designed by CGI technology). I mean, the main star of the movie was not James Franco, it was Caesar, the CGI designed chimpanzee!
The plot was excellent; it was riveting, exciting and emotional. The screenplay was well executed and the script was terrific; it never gets boring, conversations are not drawn out and it is very moving at times.
As for the performances, James Franco is admirable as a dedicated yet compassionate scientist. John Lithgow is a believable Alzheimer's patient, and you continuously feel sorry for him. Freida Pinto, who plays Caroline, Will's love interest, is underused in the film, though she delivered a good performance. But the ultimate star here, once again, is Caesar the digitally designed chimp (or is it Andy Serkis in a motion-capture performance?). We may never know!
Verdict: 5 out of 5 stars. Exciting, thoughtful, emotional and action-packed. I loved every minute of it and I highly recommend it!
PS. Don't leave as soon as the credits roll out! There's a very important scene that I believe ties the whole movie together!
– Alya N. Al-Othman
Images: Official Website