Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis
One of the genuine surprise movies of the last twelve months, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes stars James Franco as Will, a biotech scientist attempting to create a gene therapy to cure Alzheimers disease; however, when testing the drug on chimpanzees, he finds that it raises their intelligence to the level of human beings.
However, after a mishap in the laboratory causes one of the chimps to go on a rampage, Will is fired and the chimpanzees ordered to be euthanized. Will takes one of the male chimps home and names him Caesar - but of course, armed with his newfound intelligence, Caesar doesn't want to be a house pet. I'm sure you can see where this is going.
Ostensibly a sequel to the first Planet Of The Apes film released in 1968, though intended as a reboot of the franchise and the first in a new series of films, my expectations for Rise were low; the cast seemed unremarkable, the storyline seemed exhausted, and the aftertaste from Mark Wahlberg's 2001 remake are still sour after more than a decade.
Yet, Rise defies every expectation: director Rupert Wyatt handles what could have been a horrible story by applying his hand to the various visual flourishes and spectacular set pieces you would expect from a blockbuster film like this. Meanwhile, Franco turns in the performance of his career, helped by Freida Pinto and John Lithgow, and even recognisable support players like David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine and Brian Cox.
I haven't even mentioned Andy Serkis, who turns in yet another brilliant motion capture performance, playing intelli-chimp Caesar. It seems incredible that Serkis has made a career out of dressing in a tight suit covered in ping-pong balls and playing characters (Gollum, Kong, Captain Haddock) who don't really exist.
At a touch under two hours, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is a reasonably quick watch, seeming shorter than its running time thanks to an interesting story that moves along at a cracking pace. It looks good and it feels good. You can't ask for much more than that from any blockbuster film.
Special Features include: none