Viewed – 30 August 2011 Cinema
The 1968 Charlton Heston movie that spawned several sequels as well as a television series, is rightly regarded as a classic, and although a re-imagining by Tim Burton a few years ago attempted to breathe new life into an old idea, the franchise that had once been Box Office gold seemed dead and buried. Until now. With a take on the story from a fresh perspective, director Rupert Wyatt has done the unthinkable – made Planet Of The Apes relevent again.
Current hot property James Franco (127 Hours) plays a scientist on the brink of discovering a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, and after testing the drug on primates with amazing results (heightened intelligence), wants to begin human trials, due to his father currently suffering from the disease and fading more and more each day. Yet when funding is pulled from the project, he takes home a new-born baby ape, and monitors the creature as he grows, discovering he is rapidly advancing compared to the average ape.
Slow burning and believable with a quality turn from Franco and also a heart breaking, if slight performance from seasoned veteran John Lithgow. Yet above all else, the stunning CGI presence of Caesar the Ape is a revelation in effects work and the physical talents of actor Andy Serkis (Lord Of The Rings, King Kong). I for one completely believed in the creature and rooted for him throughout. The movie does suffer from clichéd supporting characters like the abusive guards at an Ape sanctuary, and Franco’s girlfriend could have gone to a bigger name actress, yet the movie as a whole builds and builds, creating a real buzz as situations develop and the epic realisation of the bigger picture becomes clear. Yet that is also the problem. For me, I felt let down as the movie reached a (stunning) crescendo and then just ended. Granted a sequel is inevitable, but for a movie that lays down so many bricks to support plot threads that don’t go anywhere (the virus effecting humans, anyone?) I still left a touch unsatisfied. Perhaps it’s too big a story to tell in one movie?
With that being said, this remains streets ahead of your usual summer-blockbuster fair, with an intelligent and absorbing structure that doesn’t rush things, and truly delivers when necessary. And when a movie leaves you begging for more – that can’t be bad.
Verdict: 4 /5