Sometimes when you see a trailer for a film it can either make you really want to go and see that film or it can make you decide that there is no way you are going to see that film if not even the trailer looks good! I felt the latter about Rise of the Planet of the Apes when it was released last year. However, a friend of mine asked me to go and see this film with him and, never being one to turn down a trip to the cinema no matter how bad a film looks, I went along. I went into the screen expecting to be twiddling my thumbs for an hour and a half; I did not expect to be sat there having my heartstrings played with by a CGI invention but this is what actually occurred!

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the story of Will (James Franco) and Caesar (Andy Serkis).  Will is a bright young scientist working on ALZ-112, otherwise known as a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, and is desperate for his cure to be put into a phase of human trials after successful trials on apes. This is because Will’s father is suffering from Alzheimer’s and Will cannot cope with his father’s illness and the suffering it is putting the family through. After ‘Bright Eyes’ goes rogue at the lab, all chimpanzees have to be put down. This is where Will and chimp handler Franklin (Tyler Labine) find a new born baby chimp, soon to be known as Caesar. Caesar instantly shows signs that he inherited the ALZ-112 drug from his mother and his intelligence charts off the scale for a chimpanzee. Although this is fantastic new for Will at first, events take their toll as Caesar grows older and more ambitious.

In truth this is not one of James Franco’s best performances but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad performance, just not neccassarily as good as one might expect from a man who put in a terrific performance in 127 Hours and managed to grab an audience’s attention and hold it all by himself for ninety minutes. However, his friendship with Caesar is truly believable. Tyler Labine, Brian Cox and David Oyelowo put in an adequate shift, John Lithgow as Will’s father is one of the best performances whilst Tom Felton and Freida Pinto seemed to be competing in a competition of who could act worse. But the real star, of course, is Andy Serkis as Caesar. Serkis has made a name for himself in motion capture performance with roles as Gollum in Lord of the Rings and King Kong in Peter Jackson’s remake of the classic film. Here, Serkis is once again brilliant; his emotion he brings to the character make Caesar one of my favourite characters (and one of the best characters) of this century.

Caesar’s relationships with the human characters are wonderful to watch. Will and Caesar soon have a mutual respect for each other as Caesar soon becomes one of Will’s closest and only friends where he one was just a test subject. Caesar develops a heart-warming relationship with Will’s dad and some of the most touching scenes take place between these two. So for a film that bases so much of it’s development and early story on relationships it seems almost implausible that there is this ridiculous love story happening at the same time between Franco and Pinto’s characters which really adds little to the overall story.

You’d be surprised how emotionally captivating and driven Caesar can be to say he is just computer generated. His creation is a wonderful credit to the visual team on Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Andy Serkis himself. But it is not just Caesar, in the final act there are hundreds of primates running about the town and the special effects are wonderful – the special effects in this film are among the best that I have ever seen. You would honestly think that they were real chimpanzees at times.

The final act is fantastic. There is the climatic battle on the bridge between humans and apes that audiences have waited for since the beginning of the movie with seeds planted leading to this moment for a while. And it does not disappoint; the action is directed superbly and everything happens so smoothly – it really is great to watch and exciting as the apes bring down the police force and war wages throughout the streets.

There were obviously a few things that annoyed me (besides Freida Pinto’s involvement in the film). Most notably, the fact that in the first twenty five minutes eight years pass by and the only character that ages is Caesar. I know it was important to speed through this so that we could get to Caesar’s story as a grown ape but at least make James Franco and the rest of the cast look eight years older. How hard is it to do that when you’re creating hundreds of apes? Come on.

Anyway, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a very emotional and touching film, not just a nonsense popcorn flick which many people seem to mistakenly believe it to be. I went in with a negative approach and I really enjoyed it, there are some shocks, some great action, fantastic character development in Caesar and a great ending setting up the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, very nicely indeed.

My Rating: 7/10.

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