The movie is nothing more than just another predictable cautionary tale, but its impressive special effects make a compelling character story.
William (Franco), a scientist out to find a cure for his father, is engaged in testing a retrovirus on chimps. One of the test subjects showed great progress and William pitches “the cure” to investors. Unfortunately the chimp rampages through the facility and the project gets scrapped by his boss. All of the chimps were put down save for one, a baby. Unable to kill the baby, the scientist brings the chimp home and becomes a companion for his dad. Aptly named Caesar, he inherits his mom’s genes and becomes intelligent, too intelligent in fact that he gets bothered by existentialism. Eventually he figures out what he wants to do, which is not exactly good news for the human race.
For once, special effects were not used as a money grabbing ploy. It was so effective it created a convincing and formidable character. Andy Serkis is amazing in giving life and nuance into a computer generated chimp. When Caesar yelled No! you can see that he’s more than just an intelligent monkey who can solve puzzles. He is capable of reasoning and judgment. His plot points are something to be behold too, from being some kind of a household pet to a leader of a capable army, standing tall and proud.
But besides Caesar and his character arc, the rest of the movie is forgettable with typical characters. The movie doesn’t really take off until the apes rise. The trailer pretty much gives everything away. The final showdown looked great but it was far from suspending disbelief, especially when a group of cops prefer to not arm themselves (not even tranquilizer darts) and trot off in a horse to meet a group of agile intelligent monkeys.
But despite being a bit silly, the movie delivers on what it sets out to do and succeeds in setting up a sequel. It is about the rise of the apes after all, sparked by one highly evolved chimp.
My Rating: 7/10
Alternative Movie Poster by Francesco Francavilla