RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (Rupert Wyatt)
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES works well as a Sci-Fi thriller, a nice reboot for the franchise given the convoluted Tim Burton-helmed remake PLANET OF THE APES (2001), and as an effective moral metaphor for the evolution of species.
I don't know about James Franco, but Andy Serkis (Gollum in LOTR) steals the show as Caesar, a chimp raised like a human being, who later developed cognitive skills like that of a human, and mounted a revolution of species in a battle for freedom and equal treatment. Nope, Serkis is not up there donning an ape costume, but rather providing all the movements and facial expressions. The CGI handles the rest.
John Lithgow is also praiseworthy playing dad to Franco's character; suffering from Alzheimer's disease, the character is given enough justice and emotional subtlety by Lithgow who proves his caliber in acting even in a supporting role.
Freida Pinto gets overlooked in this one. If you'll look at her starmaking performance in SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and her crucial part in YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, her vet character here pales in comparison. You can go over the whole film and not remember her. The film survives in her absence. Sad but true.
There is a compelling striking resemblance to human plight when the apes mounted resistance during the second half of the film. I felt empathy for the apes and saw them as equals, as individuals who should at least have been given the decency not to exist as mere test subjects.
Where does morality becomes obsolete in scientific practice and inhumanity begins? The film presents a strong pro-animal rights message that should make us think at least before we decide the next time we subject an animal to experimentation.
As an entry into the APES franchise, Wyatt's film achieves a lot in terms of credibility because the subject and the context of the film hits closer to reality, and this realization that a species other than man may take over the planet is very alarming, which must prompt us not to fear the unknown, but to seek a greater understanding, for our sake and the future generations.