Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of the most pretentious titles ever given to a movie. The much-awaited rise is barely a steady climb. Forget the planet; it doesn’t extend beyond the city’s precincts. ‘PETA propaganda’ would be a more befitting name. In its opening scenes and through most of it, the film reasserts how much humans hate animals and what obnoxious beasts we are. The message in the bottle is clear – don’t mess with animals. If they get pissed, you’re screwed big-time.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist who is developing a cure, called ALZ-112, for Alzheimer’s disease. This one’s personally relevant to him since his father is suffering from it. He conducts tests on primates in a laboratory before planning to introduce the drug on humans. The super-intelligent genes are passed onto an orphaned baby ape, whose mother was a test subject. Will adopts the chimpanzee and names him Caesar; because the great Roman emperor was just like a chimp, wasn’t he? Caesar grows, shit happens and as the title seems to insinuate, the apes rise and kick some arse.
The acting is mediocre. Franco has a perpetual punch-drunk expression on his face and Freida Pinto looks artificial as a Muppet while she plays the role of a primatologist named Caroline Aranha. So is the plot. The soundtrack is crass and overpowering. The film can be termed as just another action flick with simians instead of humans. Director Rupert Wyatt adds all the ingredients necessary to make it as sci-fi-action-like as possible. There are fancy laboratories, a chemical that can ‘change millions of lives’ and plenty of scientific jargon that bamboozles the ignorant viewer. Unfortunately, this is a problem that most big-budget flicks are facing nowadays – Green Lantern, Captain America, Cowboys and Aliens – all additions in the long list of movies trying to make some quick money. However, there is more to a quality action film than just special effects, violence and things money can buy. If the case were otherwise, Michael Bay would probably have been proclaimed as the father of modern-day film making.
The apes however hold the show together. Actor Andy Serkins and Mr. CGI together give a brilliant Caesar to you. You never notice when the influence of CGI commences or ends. He is cute as a baby, much like a human child. He understands English, can solve a plethora of puzzles and even makes quite a mark on the IQ scale. The empathy between the apes has been displayed quite well and it manages to touch you occasionally. Despite being at the receiving end as humans, you can’t help but cheer the simians in their battle against human cruelty. Well, that’s a woohoo for the primates.
Most of the movie proceeds at a sedate pace. Majority of the first half is a digression. Though the action and the effects are good, the apes rise way too late. The film is hollow and hence makes more noise than it has merits to boast about. However, it does teach few valuable lessons. Chimps can make dangerous pets for your neighbours. Keep chemicals worth millions in safer places than a household refrigerator. And never get in the way of a charging gorilla; things could get messy. In all honesty, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a complete ape show. Pun intended.
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