The trend of series reboots continues with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” which saw itself renamed from its original title, “Rise of the Apes”. Though this film is neither a prequel, nor a sequel to the “Apes” franchise, it’s an interesting and compelling take on the background to the story.
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, which we’ll just call “Rise” from now on, kicks off very quickly. We’re treated to a brief introduction to the plausible science being performed to treat Alzheimer’s, which of course, is being tested on apes. As is usually the case in Hollywood movies, the scientist rushes to move forward and things go awry, in an explosive and action-packed sequence to start things off. Credit the film for moving quickly to get this portion of the story out of the way, and introduce the main character, Caesar, who is a very intelligent chimpanzee, thanks to his mother passing the enhancement on to him.
The story then continues to progress quite nicely, rarely slowing down, and really doing an excellent job of turning Caesar into a real character. As he ages, it’s interesting to see how he takes on very human-like characteristics, like the haggard hair, and patchy beard of adolescence. He’s clearly very attached to his people, though it’s clear he’s aware that’s he different from them. “Rise” does an amazing job of making Caesar a real character, including his emotions. There are times you can tell what he’s thinking, just based on his facial expressions.
It’s often impossible to tell where the reality ends and CGI begins. Clearly, Caesar is computer-generated, but the rest of the apes in the film look just as good. The only times where the CGI is fairly obvious is when Caesar is swinging around inside the house. It’s a testament to how far technology has come since the original movies premiered. The apes in “Rise” actually look more like apes and far less like humans in masks. It adds to the believability of the story, and enhances the empathy for Caesar.
Though the human characters present play their parts well–some less than others–it’s clear who the real focus of the movie is: Caesar. There are long sequences without any dialog at all, with Caesar either signing to another primate, or just using that amazing CGI to get his point across with his actions and expressions. These scenes are probably the most powerful and evocative scenes in the film. Viewers will likely experience goose bumps multiple times throughout the film. There are some truly awe-inspiring moments in this movie. The very end holds a couple of uniquely surprising scenes, which elevate this to more than a popcorn-munching movie.
Once the credits start to roll, stick around for a couple more moments, as a critical scene starts to play out, which describes not only what happens after the film ends, but how it will affect future movies in this series–presuming there are any, of course. With the success that “Rise” has seen so far in theaters, there’s little doubt that more “Apes” movies will be coming out. Here’s to hoping they continue the tradition of excellence that “Rise” has set for them.
– Reviewed by Bradley K. Brown