There is only a 2% difference between the human genetic code and an ape. What makes up that 2% difference is hard to tell, especially when seeing Rise of the Planet Apes. The relationship between humans and apes, from communicating through sign language to aggressively defending those close to you, provided an almost disturbing yet lingering feeling of the insignificant difference between the human world and the planet of the apes. This movie provided the bond between James Franco, John Lithgow, and Andy Serkis, a union as uncommon as apes becoming extraordinarily smart and taking over the planet…or is it…?
This prequel bestowed many answers to the questions the Planet of the Apes mythology has quelled from the 1968 version to the 2001 remake with Marky Mark. Sure apes are smart relative to other mammals, but how did they all happen to evolve at the same time and with such neuro-advancements, enough to stifle the lives of the far advanced human race? Well, it was caused by the humans, of course! This planet of the apes would cease to exist without help from humans, the classic turnaround. Despite not being a die-hard follower of the Planet of the Apes franchise, I was very intrigued by the new CGI adaptation of the beginnings of the rise of the apes.
Watching the movie unfold, I was able to see such high stakes develop and continue to rise throughout the sequence of the movie. James Franco, who plays a young Dr. Will Rodman, is desperate to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, particularly due to his own father’s downfall from the disease. The movie progresses through a medical advancement that Franco’s character discovers as a possible cure for the debilitating disease and pleas with his financial backing consultant to fund him. What seems like a miracle drug, per the implausible results from experimental apes, decides to take many turns for the good and the deadly. This much, I had feared was true, was the irrefutable shadowing for the rise of the apes.
Now, when walking out of the theatre, I was hesitant in how to successfully endow my thoughts upon this great world with my review. As a great man better known and Brian E White said, “I can’t stop thinking about it!” I was most captured with the character of Caesar, the main ape played through CGI effects by Andy Serkis, best known for his portrayal of Gollum from the ever-acclaimed Lord of the Rings series. Throughout the entire movie, particularly towards the end was Caesar’s capture proves to be first and most important stride in ape evolution. I was thoroughly impressed with the range of emotions Caesar displayed through just the use of eye contact and facial movement. It truly showed the understanding people have of human emotion and how and in what way it affects most us strongly, particularly when the stakes are so high that a loved one’s life is at risk.
Not being sure how great a role the CGI effects played versus Andy Serkis’ personal performance, I can’t say for sure but I’d like to contribute Caesar’s unyielding presentation to Serkis. It was chilling to be looking at an ape, yet watching the actions, movements, and emotions of a human. Franco’s character’s struggle for answers was mirrored by Caesar’s bewildered ambivalence toward a human life and the ape life he was born to have. I was by far most blown away by the effects of the apes as well as the performance from the actors; the tiniest, minute details from muscle inflexion to fiercely pressing glares.
Overall, I was blown away by the powerful special effects performances as well as the actors who worked with the apes and humans to play up the powerful stakes at hand, working from saving a human’s life to ending a species.
The only negative I would give to the film was the lack of any humor whatsoever, even a comedic relief. I’ve seen war movies with more dry or lighthearted humor. There were times that I felt a break was needed to loosen the almost monotonous tension. Perhaps it was because I’ve seen both Franco and Lithgow perform successfully in comedic roles and seeing their talents entirely suppressed. However, the performances by the actors were admirable, particularly with working and acting mostly with CGI characters.
In a peanut shell, The Rise of the Planet Apes was a great movie, very dramatic and heart wrenching, as well as hauntingly eye-opening to the very small difference there appears to be between humans and apes.