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Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie poster

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Movie Review

Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
Rated: PG-13
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt

Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Frieda Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo
Released by: 20th Century Fox

In Short: This surprisingly good origin story of how apes came to rule the earth is a scarily believable and intensely exciting action thriller. It will actually leave you hoping for even more sequels to follow.

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An Old Movie Franchise Gets an Exciting New Life

We were skeptical about yet another visit to the "Planet of the Apes." After all, what started as a Pierre Boulle novel in 1963 has already spawned six movies, two television shows, video games and a slew of toys. So really, isn't that story close to being tapped out already?

Apparently not, for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is a rip roarin' good time. Director Rupert Wyatt and screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have fashioned a believable, rollicking flick. They've done it by going back to the real beginnings of the oft-told story of apes being the English-speaking, clothes-wearing dominators over earth's humans.

The film begins as San Francisco-based scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is just finishing up test trials on a chimpanzee. She has been injected with a new drug, designed by Rodman to improve cognition and mental acuity. It's his own invention, one that he hopes will cure Alzheimer's disease. His father suffers from that malady, which makes Rodman even more determined to bring it quickly into the marketplace.

A still from Rise of the Planet of the Apes Freida Pinto and James Franco in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

As the story develops, the scientist and his ailing father adopt a baby chimp, who is born with the drug already in his system. He's named Caesar (sound familiar?) and as he grows he gets smarter and smarter and smarter.

It's hard to say too much about this well-crafted story without giving away some key elements. Those are best left to discovery as the plot unfolds. Suffice it to say that the premise initially makes it very easy to believe that the apes eventually become as intelligent as the Homo sapiens. Then, after we witness some serious abuse of a collection of apes from their human keepers, there comes a point in the action where the whole audience is cheering for the chimps to break out and triumph.

"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is filled with terrific performances, cinematic sequences that cleverly reference those past films and breathtaking moments. Make sure you see it on the big screen.


Reviewed by Jenny Peters


(Updated: 08/05/11 CT)

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