Movie review – Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Of all summer 2011 movies, Rise of the Planet of the Apes seemed to be the least promising (if you don’t count The Change-Up, Captain America: The First Avenger, Transformers 3… okay, so Apes had some competition).
As far as I know, no one was crying out for a prequel, sequel, or reboot to the whole Apes mythos; it seems it had run its course, with the 2001 Tim Burton remake putting an even spikier nail in its coffin than Joel Shumacher‘s nippley Batman and Robin did to that franchise.
But lo and behold, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a really good movie. It’s not great – it still dabbles in way too many cliches (the angry neighbour, the rapacious industrialist, the do-gooder scientist, ad infinitum).
But Rise artfully strings together the action-movie and sci-fi tropes with which we have become agonizingly over-familiar into a fast-paced and surprisingly affecting story. No doubt the latter aspect is owing in no small part to Andy Serkis (Gollum in the Lord of the Rings films), who lends his magnificent body language to the main ape, Caesar.
And it’s definitely the apes who are the stars of the movie – James Franco is fine, as is John Lithgow (Freida Pinto as Franco’s love interest I’m afraid is completely forgettable) but everyone is ultimately overshadowed by the hairy beasts.
I have to say, it’s been awhile since I’ve been on the edge of my seat for the climax of a big Hollywood movie, but Rise of the Planet of the Apes had me until the last frame. Now if the studio can only keep the damn dirty hands of the likes of Tim Burton, Joel Shumacher and other hacks away from any sequels.