“You maniacs! You screwed it up!”
This was my first reaction when I saw the trailer for the Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Granted, Planet of the Apes isn’t famous for it’s continuity, logic, or in fact for it’s remakes, however, the idea that a handful of chimpanzees from Seattle would take over the world within the space of two hours just seemed too much even for the world of Dr Zaius. So I avoided the film until very recently, when I gave it a go after the internet konked out in my house.
I was, however, very pleasantly surprised! Although at first look watching the Green Goblin’s mopey son try to train a super smart chimp that will eventually go on to rule the world does sound like Sam Riami’s idea of a great 4th Spider-Man instalment, the film was instead a well-paced, character driven story.
The ‘we did it with science’ attitude aside, it was a great tale. Whilst the trailer portrayed it as an epic battle between man and ape, it’s actually more of an origin story for the very first super-smart monkey. TRotPotA simultaneously shows the main character (a young chimp called Caesar with a genetically enhanced brain) as both a vulnerable ‘person’, and a growing threat as we follow his journey from cutesy pet monkey, to adopted-‘son’ and eventually general of the banana gang.
This didn’t happen….
The film deals largely with the father-son relationships between both scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) and his father Charles (John Lithgow) and with Caesar as a kind of son/grandson, and all done with surprising amount of understanding. It was also great to see a modern film not afraid to jump forward in time casually, and not assuming that the audience needs every little piece filling in.
The film does have a good dose of ‘aren’t we cruel to animals’, especially with Malfoy who seems to have taken up a summer job electrocuting monkeys due to some deep-seated hatred that goes entirely unexplained, but on large it seems a fight for independence rather than a fight against cruelty for the plucky primates.
Whilst I wouldn’t rate the misleadingly entitled Rise of the Planet of the Apes as close to an all time favourite film, I would recommended it as an enjoyable movie that doesn’t get bogged down with intricacies or technicalities, and instead stays focused on the relationships and stories that cinema is all about.
A man and his monkey.