This is a clear example of a film in which the marketing campaign really screwed up. The trailers for this made it look terrible. A cash cow capitalizing on the popularity of the original Planet of the Apes with a stupid message that experiments to cure diseases like Altzheimer's would destroy humanity. That could not be further from the truth, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of the best films that you will see all year.
My main fear over this film is that it would turn into a film bashing the progress of science in the realms of medicine and while there is a slight undertone of that, the main issue in the film is animal cruelty. This mainly comes into play when Caesar is in the sanctuary and is abused by Tom Felton causing his hatred of humanity to grow, leading to the ape uprising. Science is used to give the apes their intelligence with a cure for Altzheimer's being the key but the film doesn't really say that what the scientists are doing to cure Altzheimer's is wrong, it goes down the Capitalism is Evil route through David Oyelowo's character.
The story of the film takes the premise of the film seriously providing some powerful emotional scenes, all of them involving John Lithgow as Charles and Andy Serkis as Caesar and explores the aspects of the effect Altzheimer's has on the family of those afflicted and the effect of medical research on monkeys with heart and sincerity. However, this doesn't distract from the general silliness of the whole concept and allows for some great ape related action scenes including a scene where a gorilla attacks a helicopter and provides some great villains you love to hate in the form of Tom Felton, Brian Cox, David Oyelowo and David Hewlett.
The key area that RotPotA succeeds is in the acting department. Andy Serkis gives the best performance in his career as Caesar, displaying the type of acting that I love in films, visual acting. The way that Serkis makes you sympathize with the character of Caesar solely through his facial expressions and his body language and is, in my opinion, the best performance of the year so far. Tom Felton is good fun as the main baddie, showing his acting skills and showing that, even if he has been typecast as villains after the Harry Potter films, that he does a good job playing those villains. John Lithgow is also fantastic as Franco's characters' Altzheimer's afflicted father providing the character with real pain over his situation with subtle ways used to show the state of mind that his character is in, providing most of the emotional weight from the human side of the film. James Franco and Freida Pinto are okay as the two main human leads and, as stated before, Brian Cox, David Oyelowo and David Hewlett are such massive arseholes that you can't help but love to hate them.
The action scenes in the film are brilliantly shot, in fact the whole film is brilliantly shot and directed with Rupert Wyatt at the helm, especially since this is his first mainstream action film and he nails everything about the action with the battle on the Golden Gate Bridge being the highpoint of the film in terms of action. Plus, Wyatt suitably references the original Planet of the Apes without it coming off as forced, for example, the most famous line from the original is included but given new context and also leads to the key turning point in the film in terms of the ape uprising. Plus little touches like Caesar building a model of the Statue of Liberty clearly show the love that Wyatt had for the original film.
I could go on for hours about how good Rise of the Planet of the Apes is but I really think that this is one of those films that you need to see to believe how good it is, ignore the lackluster trailers and watch this film as soon as possible, you will not regret it.
My Rating: 5/5
P.S. Don't leave immediately after the credits start, there is a little extra scene during the credits that shows how the uprising and the drug used to create the intelligent apes spreads.
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