Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Now that’s epic.
This film was selected from ‘The 250’
I have watched four Planet of the Apes films in one day, but thankfully I’m all caught up on the series and ready and gearing for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. This movie right here, though, this is the reason I went back and watched the classic series. This, in my opinion, is the best movie in the entire franchise all around. People may argue with me all they want, but for a modern audience, this will be their go-to movie, hands down. Rise of the Planet of the Apes has the right tone, the right balance between darkness and light, especially of production value and epicness…well I could go on forever, let’s just start with the plot.
Mr. James Franco stars in this flick as Will Rodman, a scientist on the verge of discovering the cure to Alzheimer’s disease. His lab is one that does tests on apes, and one ape in particular showed great signs of improvement. Well that ape bore a child, and Will decided to take the baby home to take care of, and it turns out the genetic tests given to the apes at his job were passed down to the baby ape, Caesar, as he began to understand the world around him. However, when he acted out in public, he was sent away to a private animal prison of sorts. It is there that he began to witness animal cruelty first hand, and decided something needed to be done to stop it.
Okay, so the film in the classic series this movie resembles the closest is without a doubt Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, complete with the ape Caesar, who is the one responsible for the rise of the apes. Now the ways he goes about doing it differ significantly in the movies, which makes this still feel like a completely original film, as it should be. After all, the production value was 55 times higher than the classic version. Higher budget meant higher chance at getting everything right, the way the original series should have been. Boy did it get it right.
No, the clever messages of an upside down world with role reversals and evolution weren’t apparent anymore, but this wasn’t a movie made just to make you think. The main problems the classic series had was it didn’t know the potential it had purely in the concept alone. The apes looked fake, their mouths didn’t move very well, the production value was horrible, the music was cheesy and cartoony, the overall tone was just too light for the project. It had a great idea, but I don’t think I ever cared for how it was actually done. If it were a book, I’d think the classic series would do famously.
This new film, let’s look at the technical aspects: the apes are all CGI, and for the most part you can tell the difference between what’s real and what’s not. But not so much in a way that matters. They still look more real than anything the classic series ever did. Heck, even Tim Burton’s 2001 remake had decent looking apes, but no matter how much make-up you put on a person, they just don’t get it right. A full CGI ape is able to look perfect in the role, and get all of those movements right, thanks to the god that is Andy Serkis. Also, the music was epic and fit the tone. The tone, by the way, was dark and light both when need be, and got darker as the film went on – just as it should be.
The story was also absolutely spot on. It paid a lot of respect, I came to find, on the classic series, but made sure to play with the liberties to the point that molded the tone into something appropriate for a Planet of the Apes movie. Then they took that tone and decided the right path for the rest of the movie, and I suppose series as well. I respect the classic franchise a lot. It had a great idea, just didn’t know what to do with it and went way too far with the element of time travel…it just got weird. If they were to do everything right…it would probably look something like this movie.
Should also mention Franco. He does a pretty decent job portraying this scientist guy with a heart of gold, but just like every other actor in this series, it wasn’t amazing. For being past 2010, we should at least be getting some better actors. Caesar did an amazing job at acting, but at the same time, he wasn’t real. So…
This is where the series should have been all along. The tone and look of the film is absolutely perfect. No more cheesy melodramatic bullcrap from Charlton Heston, no more apes that look like muppets, no more bouncy cartoon music. No, here we have a raw and epic story told with apes you can’t help but love and sit on the edge of your seat waiting for the next film.
There’s a lot of CGI in this movie, and as such, the apes sometimes don’t look as real as they should…like they don’t fit in perfectly. That shouldn’t matter to most though, considering the whole series before this was people wearing makeup.