There wasn’t a screening here (or at least none that I knew of) for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I ended up getting to see it for free anyway, as I won tickets to the “Dinner and a Movie” at the Birmingham Palladium in Michigan. I am very glad I did, as it might just be one of the best sci-fi movies of 2011 so far.
Will (James Franco, “Your Highness”) works in a lab that has an Alzheimer’s cure in development, which they are currently testing on apes. The work is personal to Will, whose father, Charles (John Lithgow, “Leap Year”), has Alzheimer’s, and is getting worse by the day. The cure seems to not only allow the apes to repair their own brain cells, but also makes them smarter, and soon Will can’t resist: he gives his dad a dose of the cure. Soon, his dad is his old self again, and Will keeps on giving him the cure so that he will be able to stay lucid and his Alzheimer’s will not come back.
Before all this, the first ape that showed remarkable development with the cure went crazy once they tried to show her to their investors, and Will’s boss, Mr. Jacobs (David Oyelowo, “The Help”), orders him to put down the ape as well as the other eleven they have. One of the scientists, however, finds out that the reason the ape went crazy is that she was trying to protect her newborn, which they find hidden in her cage-like cell. The scientist refuses to kill the ape, and so Will takes it home, and names it Caesar. Caesar is super smart just like his mom, because the cure has seeped into his genes, and both Will and his father enjoy playing with him and watching him grow up. When Caesar ends up attacking a neighbor who was berating Will’s father over an incident, however, Animal Control makes Will put him into an ape “sanctuary,” and it is there that he meets the other apes that will soon be his cohorts in his quest to break free.
Yes, definitely see this movie. The cast was good in this film but the real stars are the apes. Caesar knows how to communicate via sign language, and one of the other apes in the sanctuary, an orangutan, knows how to as well–he tells Caesar that he used to be a circus ape, which is how he learned to sign. The last half or so of the movie focuses exclusively on the apes trying to break free and, in the process, cause havoc, much of which takes place on the Golden Gate Bridge. What’s interesting about this film is that it shows exactly why the apes want to be free, and how inhumanely they are treated at the “sanctuary,” and so it’s actually easy to identify with Caesar and his crew, and we understand their motives (or Caesar’s, at least) for not wanting to be treated like “pets” anymore.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is currently playing in theaters, and is rated PG-13 with a runtime of 105 minutes.
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