So here is a movie that I was really excited to see. I'm a fan of the original series, and think the ending to the first one is amazing. I know some people might hesitate to give this movie a chance because they didn't like the first remake. Even though I thought the remake was all right, it never really had a chance to be as epic because most people already knew how it would end. The question for this reboot is: could it be closer to epic like the original, or just another failed attempt at greatness?
Will (James Franco) is a scientist, who is trying to develop a drug to cure/treat brain degenerating diseases. He has been testing a drug on some apes, and seems to have finally found some success on an ape called Bright Eyes. Before they can do further testing on her, she escapes, is killed, and the project is put on hold. All of Will's work seems to be for nothing except for the discovery of something Bright Eyes left behind... a baby ape!
For those of you that read my reviews and know me, you know that I'm a man of action. I like my movies to be action packed, and have little patience for too much story telling. Much of the first half of this movie follows Caesar (baby ape), as he grows up in Will's care. I could have very easily gotten bored and annoyed with the story telling here, however I became quickly enamored with the story of Caesar.
While there are some subplots in this movie, there is no doubt that it all about “Caesar”. They show him at different stages of life, and how he becomes wiser with age. The audience gets to see this in his actions, and from Will documenting Caesar's development. He grows up as any normal child would, wanting to play, but also learning. It is really fun watching him swing around the house, but a bit sad watching him not being able to play out in the world, and with other children.
What is really effective as a subplot is the story of Will's father, Charles (John Lithgow). He appears to have been a great man, but Alzheimer’s has slowed him down. Of course, this is the reason why Will is so passionate about his work at the lab. The audience gets to see a great contrast between a man, whose brain is failing, and an ape, whose brain is advancing every day. Seeing the two of them go in different directions is pretty emotional, as they form a bond that ultimately gets Caesar in trouble.
Caesar eventually gets taken away from Will, and put with his own kind. If the audience didn’t feel sorry enough for Caesar before, they do now. He struggles as any child would who has been taken away from his parents. He misses Will, and has a difficult time dealing with apes that still have that primal instinct that he has lost growing up in the human world. The situation that Caesar finds himself in is very interesting. He could just wait it out and hope to return to a life with Will, become just another ape, or actually help out members of his own species.
When he gets locked up, the audience finally gets to meet some other primates that became a stable of the original Planet of the Apes franchise. There is a gorilla named Buck, whose strength matches Caesar’s intelligence. There is an orangutan named Maurice, who seems to be naturally wise. Along with several other apes, they all join Caesar’s side, and the memories of the original franchise really come to light. Also, it is very interesting how they use Bright Eyes as the name of the ape that became the first of its kind (intelligence wise) in this movie. If you remember in the original movie, Bright Eyes is the name that is given to Taylor, who is the first of his kind (intelligence wise) in that movie.
From about this point on, the action that I’m always looking for really begins to pick up. The apes kind of go “ape shit,” as the rise of the planet of the apes begins. The action in the final scenes really put the finishing touches on the movie. It is great to see how the different kinds of primates work in battle. One of the things I was most curious about in this movie was how it was going to end. I’m not going to give it away, but just say that it ended a little differently than from what I guessed would happen. While it is a very good ending, it still might not be as epic as the original. By the way, stay seated because there is another scene right after the movie ends.
While I’m not big on too much story telling, there is something about the ideas behind the Planet of the Apes that really intrigues me. It is why I like the original movies, and why I really enjoyed this one. It is a great story about Caesar that effectively gets the audience emotional involved, while still having some good ape action. There are plenty of references to the original franchise, especially with the use of the ape’s names. Also, while it isn’t perfect, the CGI doesn’t detract from the quality of the movie. With that said, I give this movie an epic 5 pools of blood. And if my word isn’t enough, PETA approves of the movie as well!