Surprisingly Good Time at “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

James Franco and Andy Serkis as Caesar from “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

By Charly Shelton

I did not want to see “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” I made no secret that I had no interest in it. It looked like just another bad spinoff made to capitalize on a dying franchise of yesteryear with no real interest in being a good movie on its own. Having watched it, I completely take back every bad thing I have said about this film.

It was amazing. The trailer led me to believe that it was going to be the worst film of the summer, but in fact, it is the best film of the year so far.

“The Planet of the Apes” is a well-known sci-fi film where the apes have taken over the planet and are the dominant species while humans are underlings, kept as slaves and pets. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” explains how that situation arose and what actually causes the fall of man and the rise of apes.

James Franco leads a solid cast including Andy Serkis as Caesar, the chimp who is the forbear in the genetic experiments to cure Alzheimer’s for humans. Tested on apes, the experiments affect primates in a different way – instead of healing a broken mind, the less developed minds are catapulted to super intellect. These apes long for freedom and escape to a natural preserve in the redwoods near San Francisco. But the real story is the journey of Caesar and how he discovers his apeness through his humanity.

Andy Serkis is a master of motion capture acting as an ape. He was Gollum in “Lord of the Rings,” then moved on to “King Kong” where he really shined as the monster gorilla with a heart of gold. But perhaps his finest performance is as Caesar, the ape who started the revolution.

A human-like ape from Serkis is more believable than James Franco as a doctor of genetic theory. Even without lines, the audience related to the chimp on a personal level just from his facial expressions and actions. He really does seem human, showing the same interest and feelings we have everyday. And through sign language, we see him as a kind, caring character for the majority of the film as well.

There is a certain part of the movie (if you have seen it, you know exactly what part it is) when the audience is so blown away that you can hear a pin drop as jaws hang open. Absolutely astounding. Definitely not one to miss.     Rated PG-13, I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars. If I could rate it higher than that, I would do it.

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