Plot/Summary: Avidly searching for the cure to Alzheimer’s, Will (James Franco) tests countless apes and finally finds a drug that seems to work for a particular female ape. As he pitches his cure to the board of directors, the ape violently erupts on to the scene and is shot. With all hope lost, Will takes the mother’s baby home to stay with him. As the chimp matures, Will realizes that the traits from the mother ape were passed down to her chimp and the chimp (affectionately known as Caesar) shows intelligence not found in any other ape. Will takes a risk and gives his father (who suffers from Alzheimer’s) the same drug that was given to Caesar’s mother. Will’s father, Charles (John Lithgow), improves greatly, but not before Caesar attacks a neighbor and is sent to an ape imprisonment. Caesar’s human friends seem to forget about him so he must now learn to interact with his ape counterparts. Caesar steals the Alzheimer’s drug and releases it to his new ape friends who join him in attacking and escaping from the humans. 7/10
Characterization: Rise of the Planet of the Apes has only one true relationship that the audience can connect with and that is the relationship of Caesar and Charles (John Lithgow). As Charles slowly deteriorates from Alzheimer’s, Caesar always shows love and support especially when he defends and protects Charles from the angry neighbor. Caesar and Charles are really the only two characters that have a developed relationship. Unfortunately it seems that James Franco phoned in most of his part, and his flippant relationship with Caroline (Freida Pinto) is not developed at all. 6.5/10
Cinematography: Although I appreciate the work that Andy Serkis has done with motion capture, this film struggles to mesh real set pieces and humans with the mo-cap apes. It is also very obvious when the film goes from on-site locations to CGI background. Caesar is an empathetic character thanks to Andy Serkis’s abilities, but at the same time Caesar looks like a man trying to imitate an ape’s movements. 6.5/10
Conclusion: Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a prequel that tries to answer questions that no one really had. The plot holes are prevalent like why did Will not wait to see if the first ape suffered from side effects before pitching his idea to the board, or why did Will not do a background check on this animal shelter before dropping off his lifelong friend Caesar? There are several questions and issues that arise, but overall it is a mediocre action/adventure film. With a third film planned hopefully this rebooted franchise will look back to the original Planet of the Apes and remember that it was always more of a drama than it was an action film.
Final Score: 6.7