Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the origin story for the ape uprising that leads to the Planet of the Apes.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist at Gen-Sys that is developing a cure for Alzheimer’s for his ailing father, Charles (John Lithgow). After testing a potential treatment on a chimpanzee captured from the wild, the chimp becomes extremely smart but lashes out after giving birth while in captivity. Rodman adopts the young chimp, who shows signs of great intelligence, and names him Caesar (motion capture by Andy Serkis). The designed treatment seems to work without a problem on apes, but affects humans with flu-like symptoms, leading to death. After protecting Charles and lashing out at a neighbor, Caesar is put in captivity and eventually starts molding the other captive apes with his intelligence and stages a breakout.
The main problem with prequels like Rise of the Planet of the Apes is that we all essentially know how the film ends. Rise of the Planet of the Apes essentially just needs to get from point A to point B, or at least set up the road to point B and it can be lazy doing so. Luckily, Rise of the Planet of the Apes tells an interesting story and makes you actually care about the people (and apes) involved. I’m a huge fan of John Lithgow’s and I never thought he got as much attention for his role here, but I loved his character. Andy Serkis is also a bit overlooked, but as always, does a remarkable job with the motion capture.
At times, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is unintentionally funny, or at least it was to me. It’s a film that seems to demand being taken seriously but sets up some situations that are inherently humorous or silly. I found this a bit distracting but in a weird way, it kind of makes the film almost more enjoyable. To its credit, I never found myself bored by Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I was mostly indifferent to it. It was better than I expected but it never truly impressed me.
Rise of the Planet of Apes did eventually land in the pitfall of prequels I mentioned before. Although it is remarkable at times, for the most part it’s just going through the motions of an origin story. Oddly, I have seen much praise for this movie but not necessarily for Prometheus, which does a bit more than going from A to B. Since they are making a sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes that I assume further bridges the gap between our current society and the inevitable Planet of the Apes, it will be interesting to see how they keep the momentum of the series going since we know exactly the outcome.
I give it 3 are intelligent ape outbreaks the new zombie attacks? out of 5.