By Joan Alperin Schwartz
What makes 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' so unique is that it's the first live-action film to be told from the point of view of a sentient animal -- A chimpanzee--named Caesar...brilliantly portrayed by Andy Serkis, the world's foremost performance capture actor. Andy infuses Caesar with nuance, wisdom and most importantly... heart.
'Rise Of The Planets Of The Apes' is an origin story, in the truest sense of the word. It shows us what happens, when experiments in genetic engineering, leads scientists to produce an intelligent ape. The film is a cautionary tale that blends scifi with science.
And thanks to the Rupert Wyatt's excellent direction along with the great story telling of Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffee, this movie scores on all levels.
At its heart, 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' is a character driven piece. It's about humanity's hubris - our arrogance in thinking that we can twist, push, cheat or circumvent the laws of nature without consequence.
In the original 'Planet Of The Apes', Col. Taylor (the late Charleton Heston) stands on the beach, facing the Statue Of Liberty and discovers that he's been on Earth the whole time and that the apes...have indeed taken over the planet.
In 'Rise Of the Planet Of the Apes', we find out...how this event came to pass.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist working within a large pharmacceutical corporation, Gen-Sys, conducting genetic research to develop a benign virus that restores damaged human brain tissue. He is committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer's, a disease that afflicts his father, Charles (John Lithgow)
Franco nails Will's character...He's your typical cold and isolated scientist. All of Will's energy is directed toward his work. Of course that soon changes, when he secretly rescues an orphaned, newborn chimp, from his lab. The chimp is Caesar, and this one ape...destined for 'greatness'.
Now we can't expect, a goodlooking scientist like Will, to live with just his elderly dad and a primate. He has to have a love interest, right? It's still a movie afterall. Luckily, Will meets Caroline (Freida Pinto) a beautiful, Primatologist who adores apes as much as he does.
Weta Digital ('Avitar and Lord Of The Rings Trilogy') using their state of the art technology, not only give Caesar and his fellow primates, subtle human tendencies and emotions...but they manage to create a world, that is so real and recognizable...Modern-day, San Franciso. These guys are amazing.
This is a film for people of all ages. But the animal abuse scenes are hard to take. If you bring kids, you might want to tell them to close their eyes. That's what I did.
Personally, I'm on the side of the apes. Watching 'Rise Of the Planet of The Apes' I couldnt help think that there's only a few hundred gorillas left on the planet. We are coming very close to wiping out a species...actually more than one...
It was one year ago, that John and I started reviewing films...and I'm so happy that for our anniversary episode...'Two Jews On Films' are finally in agreement...'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' gets our highest bagel score - It opens in theaters, Friday, August 4, 2011. Don't miss it.