Director: Rupert Wyatt
After Tim Burton’s underwhelming attempt in 2001 to remake the classic 1968 sci-fi movie “Planet of the Apes,” director Rupert Wyatt has gone back to the drawing board and created a new origin story to explain just how planet Earth comes under the rule of apes.
Present day San Francisco. Scientist Will Rodman (James Franco, who seems a touch more animated than he did whilst presenting this year’s Oscars) is working on a treatment for Alzheimer’s hoping that his work will provide the cure for his ailing father Charles (John Lithgow). After finding that one of the monkeys he is experimenting on is imbued with super intelligence, Will hopes the cure has been found. The ape – named Ceaser – becomes part of the family and, over the years, becomes accustomed to his human family. But, after an incident in which he tries to protect Charles, Ceaser is put into an Animal Control Center. There he discovers more apes and mistreatment at the hands of humans. Soon his fierce intelligence begins to have ramifications for all of mankind.
In some ways this is a scrappy movie, from the rather long set-up that moves into a prison drama followed by an all-action ending. Despite the fact that it’s sometimes uneven, there’s a tremendous energy in the film with the story never stopping whilst the special effects work is amazing. In particular Andy Serkis is brilliant as Ceaser, providing a human template for the computer animators to create a highly believable creature that manages to convey so much emotion without uttering a word. The rest of the cast do fine, with Lithgow good value for money as always and there are some nice nods to the original series of films.
Whilst it sometimes suffers from feeling like the first chapter in a much longer story, this is a fun and intelligent re-imagining of a classic movie.