Saturday, August 20, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Plot: Scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) develops a brain drug that makes chimps smart, and also helps Alzheimer's patents like his Dad (John Lithgow.) After a lab accident, Will ends up with a baby chimp named Caesar, who is un-naturally smart. When Caesar is grown, he gets in a fight and brought to a primate shelter. The shelter was not counting on a genius inmate, and soon everything is upside down. 

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes starts fast and is tightly written. The monkey drama is not stupid and gross like it might have been with non-CGI monkeys. The animation and the emotion of the apes is strong. Happily they don't talk much.

James Franco delivers his lines believably, and tries to be a sensible bridge between all the crazy people and animals. Tom Felton plays a twisted animal keeper perhaps too convincingly. 

I liked the virus-based plot that neatly and believably sets up the ending.  

The monkeys are cast as an oppressed minority until the end when they become more like little King Kongs. Helping them get fair and humane treatment just leads to disaster, which is not a happy message for today's oppressed minorities, and opposite from the message of the original films.  Perhaps the film makers think this is an enlighten age without those problems.  

This movie is more like Frankenstein or Jurassic Park with a message of not messing with Mother Nature. The real villain is the evil drug company rushing the genetic engineering. Being pro-genetic engineering myself, I think this is scaring the public from necessary and helpful bio-engineered crops and animals. 

Cast: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Tom Felton
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt

Rating:   3.0 stars: maybe not quite three stars, but it was definitely fun to watch.  Much better than expected. 

More: I did pick up on the Mars colonization mission on the news. Clearly the humans from Mars are going to show up in the sequel. 

Even More: Great CGI characters except for the fight scenes. 
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