In a multiplex crammed with bad teachers, “Monte Carlo” and stupid robots, it’s a pleasure to sink into this reboot of the classic “Planet Of The Apes” series that radiates CGI with a clever story that seems damn near revolutionary. Hollywood has already produced several “Apes” movies in the past (six films to be more specific, including the forgettable 2001 remake directed by Tim Burton). What I’m trying to say is that “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” made a happy kid out of me. I was certain it would suck, from the moment I learned that it was being made. Instead, the movie rises, and draws you almost instantly, as we meet genetic researcher James Franco (who ditched his silly haircut from “You Highness”), who is experimenting on a new drug that may help victims of Alzheimer’s disease, like his own father. Looking for a villain? Try genetic testing. When one experiment goes horribly wrong, Franco saves a baby ape, Caesar (a tribute to “Escape From The Planet Of The Apes”), brings him home, and raises him as a member of the family. Veterinarian Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”) warns him that Caesar won’t be a cheerful young chimp for long. Yet Franco isn’t willing to accept that fact, even though you and I know that things will go wrong, as it must. The fun kicks in when Caesar grows smarter as he fights being a domesticated animal. Eventually, his combative streak sends him to a primate shelter, run by a vicious Brian Cox, and his sadistic son, played with perfection by Tom “Malfoy” Felton. Felton even gets to shout Charlton Heston’s unforgettable line” “Take your paws off me, you damn dirty ape.” For additional tribute, throw in a scene where we learn that the space program has just launched a trip to mars, presumably with Heston and his crew aboard. It all makes sense now.
“Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” is no masterpiece. You’ll notice how the story reverts to cliché a bit too often, as we approach the predictable, yet fascinating climax. None of this really matters though, because the story is a lot of fun as it is. Yet if this movie will be remembered, it would be for its eye-popping effects. There’s some real movie magic at work here, and believe me, you’ve never seen anything quite like it before. And by the finale, we learn that there’s still at least one sequel to come. I, for one, cannot wait.
Categories: The Twenty-First Century