Okay ignore the obviously horrible and silly title. The film was originally called “Rise of the Apes”, fearing audiences wouldn’t get the connection to the previous franchise they added “Planet of the Apes”. Problem is no planet rises in this movie, it doesn’t make any sense. Still hidden behind the silly title is an amazing film, which frankly is ground breaking in multiple ways, first of the CGI over all is pretty fantastic, and the main character is an ape named Caesar. The plot is pretty simple really, Will Rodman(James Franco) is a brilliant young scientist, his father(John Lithgow) is slowly falling apart from Alzheimer’s. This motivates him to create a way to fight the disease, he starts treatment on apes. The treatment works and raises brain activity in the test apes. When one of the apes becomes violent and escapes, she is killed, Will finds out the reason she lost it was because she had a baby. The company ordered all apes to be put down, feeling guilty Will takes the baby ape into his home.
We follow Will as he takes care of baby Caesar realizing that the ape genetically gained intelligence from his mother. Frida Pinto plays Will’s love interest, she’s a vet and she and Will raise Caesar. Problem is as he grows it becomes harder to keep him a secret. After an incident involving an annoying neighbor they are made to take Caesar to an ape preserve. There the men running it a brutal to the animals, not treating them with the respect Will did. The mistreatment leads Caesar to lead and revolt to free all apes from imprisonment, whether it be a lab or zoo. His development is the key part to this, we see and feel everything he does, you connect to the mistreatment. When he has had enough and plans to escape you can’t help but root for him and the apes to succeed.
I get that this film is a prequel leading into The Planet of the Apes franchise. It does a fine job setting up the series, we get NASA updates about a lost ship. At sometime the references to the other movies gets annoying, they basically sneak in every famous line. Looking past that though this film is a very good stand alone film. The film is advertised as if the apes are trying to over throw man kind, that is far from it actually, most of the action is at the end of the film when the apes are simply escaping.
Also most of the human actors are fine, Lithgow really stands out here while the other actors seem to be going through the motions. It’s fine though because the movie is about them, the humans are side characters, this is Caesar’s show and Andy Serkis did an amazing job with the motion caption here. The CGI here has some bad spots but overall it’s very impressive. The final twenty minutes is where things really shine as police confront the escaping apes on the Golden Gate Bridge, it’s very impressive.
What I really like about this film is that it’s not a remake, the story stands alone and if no sequels are to come we would be fine with the story here. The real triumph is to have the audience connect with a CGI ape pretty much all the way through. The movie may be one that is remembered for a long time in the sci-fi department. Doesn’t exactly reach a classic status but it really is an impressive film that doesn’t rely on CGI, it just adds to a very great story.