Rise of the Planet of the Apes: ****

Running time: 105 mins  Certificate: 12A

Synopsis: Scientist Will Rodman is researching a cure for Alzheimer’s. He takes home Caesar a baby chimpanzee after its test subject mother is destroyed. Will discovers that the chimp shows levels of high intelligence. But after attacking a neighbour, Caesar is placed into an ape facility where he learns the struggle of his own kind.

 

An odd choice of a franchise to resurrect from the dead, since Fox’s last attempt was a critical failure. But Tim Burton’s underrated re-imagining of the classic Planet of the Apes did make a fair chunk of change at the worldwide box office over 10 years ago.

 

Now it is British director Rupert Wyatt’s turn after his impressive debut with the prison drama The Escapist. As with most of these reboots the decision has been made to start from the beginning and how the apes became the superior race of the Earth. This works incredibly well as we have been given a little back-story from the original and the mediocre sequels, but we now know the full extent to how these animals became so intelligent.

 

The pace of the whole piece is relentless without hindering the overall plot. Within the opening scenes we are treated to an escaped chimp running amok throughout the facility. Then to Caesar’s overall frustration in trying to becoming human and after being turned over to the ape facility learns that he is a completely different creature. These scenes have genuinely touching moments that will move the audience.

 

This could have failed miserably if it were not for the astounding performances not only from the ape performers, but also from AndySerkis who has become a CGI character genius. The emotion and physical expressions that he gives to Caesar are bewildering in that the character feels and looks incredibly real. It will be very surprising if he is not on the nomination list for Best Supporting Actor at next year’s Oscars.

 

Weta have created absolutely breathtaking special effects, whether it is the character of Caesar or the amazing finale of a full ape uprising in downtown San Francisco.

 

The human characters are almost as good as their animal counterparts. Tom Felton proves that there is more to his career than Harry Potter with another nasty evil juvenile character. John Lithgow gives a heartbreaking subtlety to the role of the father. James Franco shows that he could be the next eccentric male character actor to hit the big time after Johnny Depp. Only Freida Pinto fails to impress, but this may be due to her fairly underwritten role of the love interest.

 

Not only is the surprise of the Summer, it is also one of the films of year and possibly the best of the franchise. Please Fox do not take another 10 years to make a follow up and while your at it give the job to Wyatt.


Reviewed by Paul Logan 

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