Yesterday I attended an afternoon showing of the new film RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Before the lights dimmed and viewers were reminded to silence their cell phones, I was immediately struck by the diverse audience this film attracted. There appeared to be equal numbers of black, white, young, old, teen couples, and even middle-aged genre fans (wink). Perhaps the finest example of the generational appeal the APES brand carries was illustrated by a man in his sixties assisting an elderly gentlemen to his seat beside me. He apologized as the older man’s cane fell on my feet and I smiled and asked if he was a big fan of the original PLANET OF THE APES. “Oh yes,” he said. “I’ll never forget the day my father took me to see it and now I’m taking him!”
For me, the decision to see this film wasn’t quite so clear. I was a fan of the original, enjoyed its sequels, and found the Tim Burton version ten years ago amusing. The news of this one seemed unnecessary and I wasn’t impressed with the CGI FX based on the trailer and early photos. I decided to base my choice on “social networking” and requested my Facebook friends to chime in. The response was unanimously positive so I gave it a shot.
I am so glad that I did! While the CGI did bother me at first (the baby chimp in the beginning reminded me of Yoda in the last two STAR WARS films) it wasn’t long before I got caught up in the story and stopped noticing.
I’m not going to delve too deeply into the plot because I hope that you’ll go and see it for yourself. As the title implies, this film is more of a “prequel” to the APE franchise and by no means a “remake.” The entire film takes place in our modern world and centers on human characters before the simians gradually steal the show (foreshadowing their position in the world to come).
James Franco stars as a well-meaning scientist who inadvertently brings about the “Rise” of one species and fall of another. Despite the PLANET OF THE APES films being located in the “science fiction” section of the video store, this film is eerily credible and, in many ways, frightening. The filmmakers also did an amazing job at showing things from an ape’s perspective and I actually found myself rooting for them by the film’s climax. Like the original films, chimpanzees are the apes of choice with an orangutan and gorilla along for the rise..er..ride.
Fans of the original films will appreciate some clever nods to the classics including Charlton Heston’s immortal “damned dirty ape” line that not only gets turned on its ears in this entry but proves just as powerful. I would have to mark this film as a MUST SEE as well as a promise of good things to come!
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is a brilliant apocalyptic tale of one group of primates who gain their smarts while another manages to outsmart themselves!