Apes take over world and our hearts

Author: John Marietti

Whenever a director attempts a modern reboot of a classic film, die-hard fans tend to become very cautious.
Could a new film possibly have the same flavor and invoke the same emotions as the original? Negative criticism tends to run very high for such movies, but fans of the 1968 classic “Planet of the Apes” need not worry. It’s present-day prequel stays true to the story of the original film while beautifully displaying the evolution of film over the course of 43 years.
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is directed by Rupert Wyatt, who is probably best known for writing and directing the 2008 cult hit, “The Escapist.” “Rise” begins with scientist Will Rodman (James Franco), who is developing a drug that could possibly be the cure to Alzheimer’s disease, among many other neurological diseases.
Despite being a ground-breaking scientist, Rodman’s motivations are deeply personal, as his own father Charles (John Lithgow) has Alzheimer’s. Without such strong emotions, the “Rise” of the apes wouldn’t be possible.
The alleged cure for Alzheimer’s, ALZ 112, is tested on chimpanzees in order to see if the product is safe for humans. The results are astounding, showing not only full repair to damaged parts of the brain, but heightened intelligence as well.
One female ape in particular, Bright Eyes (which is also what Charlton Heston’s character, Taylor, is called by the apes in the original film) shows very promising results. However, while Bright Eyes is trying to protect her newborn son, Caesar, she is shot and killed.
It seems obvious that an action movie of this caliber would contain a lot of CGI and special effects. However, unlike many overblown, big-budget summer blockbusters, this movie never appears bigger than it is and never feels overbearing. Rather than an overdose of flashy visuals, Rise uses its stunning effects exactly as needed; not more, and not less. This made a good movie into a great movie, because it revolved around the personality of the main characters rather than just the typical “look what I can do” visual effects that most summer blockbusters are built upon.
“Rise” pays its respects to the 1968 film all throughout the movie. When one of the guards puts Caesar into his cage, all the other apes begin to screech and bounce off the walls of their cages. The guard sees this, and says “It’s a madhouse.” Perhaps the most famous shout-out of the entire film comes when Caesar defies the guard and the guard responds with, “Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape.”
Summer has become the season of big-time comic book blockbusters, and this summer was no exception. While I enjoyed most of these aforementioned blockbusters, this is easily the most emotionally invocative and thought-provoking action movie of the summer, and possibly the entire year. My only complaint about “Rise” is that movies this good can be a bit bothersome, because now I have to wait to see if there will be a sequel. Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen any of the original movies, “Rise” might give you inspiration to do so.