Amazing how many times can Hollywood try to squeeze the idea that triggered in 1968 the ‘Planet of the Apes’ series. The original film starred Charlton Heston and led to four sequels in the few years after its original release. A remake by Tim Burton with Mark Wahlberg in the lead role was made one decade ago. And now we have ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ which takes the theme into the techno-thriller space, but which in my humble opinion while technically sophisticated lacks much of the quality and ideas on which the original films were based.




The evil human origins of the world dominated by apes were the nuclear apocalypse in the original film. The new evil role is nowadays taken by genetics research and medical corporations. Experiments on apes for a drug that can heal the Alzheimer disease go wrong and one smart ape triggers a revolution. The family-adopts-ape plot is extremely simplistic and not much complex then in scores of films and TV shows we have seen in the last few decades. Even so the film which is directed by Rupert Wyatt feels much longer than its 105 minutes.


(video source movieclips)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes‘ is certainly technically amazing. The imaging technique used already in such films as the ‘Lord of the Rings’ series or in ‘Avatar’ allows human actors to dress into fantastic shapes while keeping expressiveness and emotions.  Here this technique is brilliantly used to create the main chimpanzee character (Caesar) and the crowd of apes, each gaining individual traits. Unfortunately the more sophisticated the technique and the virtual characters the less expressive are the human ones. There is not too much talent to be wasted in the characters of the scientist played by James Franco or his girlfriend played by Freida Pinto, and the best human performance is given by John Lithgow as the Alzheimer disease-stricken father.

It is said that ‘Rise of the Planet of Apes‘ is the smartest entertaining film of the summer. I can only imagine how bad must be the other. You can certainly lie back in the chair, and enjoy the popcorn and the apes. Not much more. The scariest thing is that the signs are that this film is the first in a new series.