8/10

The rise of the planet of the apes, very long title indeed, is a science-fiction film that aims to outreach all expectations: Quickly paced, stylishly shot, and amazingly realistic CGI effects make it better than all other  planet of the apes films, leaving out Charlton Heston’s original.  It stars James Franco as Will Rodman, a scientist working on apes with new medicine-synthesis’. He invents a concoction that could possibly cure his father’s oncoming disease, and he uses it on him warily and desperately. The result is not only curing, but also enhancing; his memory capacity, ability to learn and so on; this is the premise that creates the quasi-intelligence of the apes, and the reason Caesar breaks from the ape-containment center and retrieves the vacuum-sealed medicine, in Rodman’s fridge.

There is an emotional honesty to the primal love Will has for Caesar, and the subsequent pain of seeing him wreak havoc. The super-intelligence turns Caesar into Alexander the Great, a chest-beating rioter preparing to over-take the planet. When they first escape from their prison, there is a scene where a father is driving through an autumn-looking neighborhood, tossing the daily newspapers with his boys. He gets out of the car when he sees bushels of leaves falling from the trees and onto the street, and when he looks up, it’s the apes climbing branch to branch; this sort of imagery is very imaginative, as the leaves falling reminds one of a coming apocalypse, a shedding of beauty.

The first half takes its time exploring the relationship between Will, the father, and growing Caesar. When animal-control finally has to take Caesar away after attacking a neighbor, he is dressed in a burgundy red shirt and blue pants, the same look given to the character in the 1968 version of Planet of the Apes. The film also has close-ups of newspapers and television coverage of the mission to mars, which is an ode to the original film, where the astronauts arrive at the planet of the apes after a voyage headed for mars.

The darkness of Planet of the Apes is just brewing; the upcoming sequel to the prequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, I’m sure will be the evolution of the overtaking, the society crumbling. The final scenes of Rise are riveting, and display great camera choreography from the director, with Chimps swinging across the bridge with rebellious grunts, jumping onto the traffic and smashing windows. The film is a bold and welcome induction into the science-fiction genre: a super-stylized, yet incredibly sensitive look at the unexplained gap in the original Planet of the Apes.

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