Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes
If forced to use one word to describe this movie, my first choice would probably be "wow". I loved this, and found it a really good film in its' genre (a combination of science fiction and suspense). You'll like this movie if you fall into any of the following categories:
~fans of great special effects
~those who savor good sci-fi
~fans of origin tales
~film buffs who enjoy the classic 60's and 70's Planet of the Apes movie and TV franchises
~if you are one of those GREATLY let down by the 2001 remake that lost its' way quite badly
Once again body-acting expert Andy Serkis delivers the best performance without even showing his real face. Serkis did the body-acting for the CGI created "Gollum" character in "Lord of the Rings", and provided the moves behind the CGI ape in the latest "King Kong" remake. Here, the combination of his skill and the rapidly advancing computer technology meld beatifully to breathe life into the real star of this film, the chimp Caesar. The next best characters are the Orangutan named Maurice, and the Gorilla called Buck.
An origin tale in the truest sense, this movie hits all the right notes to perfectly provide a believable and "covers-all-the-bases" starting point that allows the earth to become a planet dominated by apes. Without giving too much away, lets just say it not only gives great storytelling as it shows the way apes become highly intelligent, but gives an excellent explanation of how the mighty monkeys could prevail over humans despite our boundless communication and weaponry, to name just two supposed advantages we would have.
The primate characters are virtually all more enjoyable and captivating than the strictly human roles. James Franco plays a fairly wooden scientist working on a way to find a cure for Alzheimer's....Freida Pinto fills out the part of the "love interest", almost entirely unecessary in this film. At least she provides some of the cautionary comments that need to be said, but that's about it.  One young actor who plays a jerk of a primate caretaker does a great job at being a total "monkey's behind"; because I really enjoyed seeing him get a taste of his own brutal medicine when the tables turn and the apes start to have the upper hand (and foot, all with opposable thumbs)! John Lithgow does quite well as the father to Franco's scientist, and pulls off playing an Alzheimer's victim himself nicely. He's probably the best of the lot when it comes to human characters in the story.
The movie managed to pull me in from the opening moments, and kept me watching and wanting more right till the credits. In fact this is one of those rare films where I wanted MORE, instead of feeling like the movie was too long.  Most films, no matter how good, find me checking my watch in the final 30 minutes or so--not this one.  And you MUST stay for the extra footage within the credits too, as it provides the final peice of the puzzle that brings it all together. If you're like me; even the first classic with Charleston Heston always left a few niggling questions as to just HOW the role reversal and planet dominance actually occured. This film brilliantly ties things together so you can actually say "now it all makes sense". This is something I didn't expect or believe could be done so well, but maybe I'm just scarred by the let-down of the 2001 Tim Burton remake, with it's useless, cheap, "twist ending."
And there will be at least two moments when you find yourself blown away with a few simple reveals of Caesar's growing intelligence and abilities.  There are some subtle tributes to the previous films hidden among the scenes, and only one really lame one, that you will roll your eyes at.
Well worth seeing, probably the best movie I've seen this summer. Especially great if you are a fan of the classic original film. See it, see it now, and don't ever get too close to the cage at the Zoo again.
3 good things about this movie:
The amazingly delicate and emotive effects used to create the primates
Caesar 's evolution in particular is incredible to watch
Spectacular panaoramic scenes of the San Francisco setting
3 bad things about this movie:
Some pretty stiff acting from the actors in strictly human roles
Unecessary female lead--no chemistry
The required, yet extremely cheesy, tribute to the infamous line of dialogue that Heston growled in the original...the line was the only thing that pulled me out of the story to groan at it's lameness
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 for most of us (mainly blamed on poor human acting)    5 out of 5 for hardcore fans of the classic original