Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the latest in the Planet of the Apes franchise, which dates back to 1968, and is the best at telling us how it all started.
James Franco plays a researcher trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s; experimenting with a new drug on chimps. The drug seems to make them smarter, but circumstances end his experiment and the chimps are all put down, except for a just born baby chimp.
Franco reluctantly takes it home, but the chimp, named Caesar, quickly becomes part of his family. The rest of his family includes his Alzheimer’s-suffering dad (John Lithgow) and significant other (Frieda Pinto from Slumdog Millionaire).
Franco tries giving the drug to his father and it helps him. Meanwhile Caesar, as he grows, just keeps getting smarter and plays a good game of chess. But mature chimps can also be dangerous. After he attacks a neighbour Caesar is put in a chimp sanctuary, but is badly treated by an attendant (Tom Felton, Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies). Soon Caesar is ready to lead the chimps in a break for freedom.
The movie is far fetched, but it’s entertaining, and fun to watch. The ending is too apocalyptic and, unfortunately, there’s also the obvious set up for the sequel. Caesar, developed with performance-capture technology with Andy Serkis (he did Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is, by far, the best thing in the film.
Rating: four deer out of five
Next Week on Video
Mel Gibson and his failed comeback movie The Beaver.
Alf Cryderman is a Red Deer freelance writer and old movie buff.