Despite some hold-ups, “Planet of the Apes” rises to expectations
There have been a number of good summer films released within the past few weeks, ranging in subject matter from crazy, stupid lovers to patriotic World War II superheroes. But this past Friday, a whole other animal was released – a film about super-intelligent apes that fight back against humanity in what is the latest installment of its own, self-titled franchise: Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
For someone who has never before seen a Planet of the Apes movie (on my to-watch list), this movie was not in the least bit difficult to follow. Even while one may or may not pick up on the subtle references sprinkled throughout, knowledge of the other movies does not add or take away from the experience of this film. A solidly plotted and developed script guides the viewer easily through the story, and never slips for a second in its pacing or its coherence.
That being said, this reviewer had a less than fulfilling experience watching this movie, due to one simple reason: its implausibility. Or, if not for its implausibility, then for the sheer fantastic nature of this thing. The idea that an ape is given a drug that boosts its intelligence to the point where it can fight back doesn’t actually sound too ridiculous in the face of the medical and scientific communities. But such things in this movie as the final battle between (and the eventual defeat of) the San Francisco Police Force and the apes, makes for a kind of laughable disbelief; not to mention the vile characters who run the nature preserve, headed off by a very Malfoy-ish Tom Felton of the Harry Potter film series.
But, one must also acknowledge the heartfelt nature of this movie, which ultimately makes it worthwhile. James Franco plays the scientist who takes in the baby ape, Caesar, whose mother is killed when she throws a wild rampage in the lab she’s being tested in. It is the bond that forms between Franco’s scientist and the baby Caesar that makes the ape’s turn to hatred and vengeance all the more tragic, and that speaks volumes on how our betrayal of nature could lead to our own demise. In terms of the caretaker/wild creature relationship, this movie reflects the likes of such films as Buddy and E.T. – both, however, remain more optimistic and consistently positive about the outcome of such relationships than this venture.
In the end, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a well-crafted, entertaining and thoughtful summer blockbuster – that is, if you can get past a few flaws that pop up along the way. Ultimately it is a matter of where your interests lie… and if you’re someone who can stand a few bumps on an otherwise smooth ride, then be my guest.