Forget Marky Mark and Tim Burton’s attempt to breathe new life into the Planet of the Apes franchise. The new film from director Rupert Wyatt is centered on the beginnings of the Planet of the Apes by focusing on a single scientist (James Franco) and his obsession with stopping the advancement of Alzheimer’s in his father (John Lithgow).
Will Rodman’s (Franco) experiments lead him into genetic manipulation of chimpanzees, but a violent outburst in a single subject in front of investors leads to the entire project being shelved. Unwilling to let his work die, Will saves a single chimp and continues his work privately.
Caesar (Andy Serkis) quickly shows the treatments are working by displaying enhanced intellect and cognitive abilities, but an angry outburst with a neighbor separates him from Will and Caroline (Freida Pinto), and Caesar must learn to adapt in a world of caged apes. Here he becomes the leader of a monkey rebellion. (Trust me, its not as ridiculous as it sounds.)
Even if there are some sizable plot holes in the script (such as where the sheer number of apes in the film’s climactic scene come from and why all the monkeys, not just those exposed to the brain gas, follow Casear’s leadership) the dramatic tension of the story works well enough for you to shrug off most of these issues. Even if Caesar’s evolution seems a bit hasty for a single film (and it does) the journey, and the emotional toll on Will and Caesar, is the real focus of the film.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes certainly delivers with an impressive “monkeys gone wild” final sequence as well as the much more subtle viral outbreak, which lays the groundwork for another series of Planet of the Apes films. If you missed it theaters give it a chance on home video. It’s an entertaining, and far more emotionally-charged, action flick than you might suspect (and one that does everything Burton’s film couldn’t achieve).
Both the Blu-ray and DVD include deleted scenes, a digital copy of the film, the trailer, a character concept gallery, audio commentaries by Wyatt and writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, and featurettes on Serkis and the use of motion capture for the creation of Caesar, the Planet of the Apes franchise, the breakdown of a scene, recreating the world of the Planet of the Apes for a new generation, and a behind-the-scene look the film’s score with composer Patrick Doyle.
[20th Century Fox, Blu-ray $39.99/DVD $29.98]