In preparation for my viewing of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” I visited my local Redbox and rented “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011), so that I would not have to spend the first hour of the movie trying to make sense of it. Even though I saw the movie, it is always good to jog the memory. I highly recommend that you do the same.
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which is a prequel to all the other “Planet of the Apes” movies explains how all this monkey business began. Dr. Will Rodman (James Franco – before he made a fool of himself on the Oscars) thinks he just may have the cure for Alzheimer’s disease. He has been using an experimental drug on a chimp named Bright Eyes (named so by her green eyes) which appears to have greatly enhanced her motor skills. Unfortunately, Bright Eyes has an episode where she goes berserk and ends up shot dead by security at the lab where Will works. All of the apes that are being tested at the lab are then deemed contaminated and ordered to be put down, but one survives: Caesar (Andy Serkis). Unbeknownst by anyone, Caesar is the offspring of the pregnant Bright Eyes, and is saved and then nurtured by the magnanimous Dr. Will in his own home.
Bright Eyes transforms from a young pup to a fully grown ape and it is obvious from the start that precocious chimp has been passed the benefits of the mind expanding drug that his mother has taken. Will, whose father Charles (John Lithgow) is suffering from an accelerating case of Alzheimer’s disease, now decides the time is right to treat him with the same drug. While the drug initially reverses the Alzheimers, the condition is only temporary and the symptoms return. Charles relapses and then has an Alzheimer’s moment with the next door neighbor ─ and when Caesar comes to the rescue he is taken away by animal control. We soon find out that while the drug is effective is apes, it is apparently toxic in humans.
Caesar, who is not accustomed to being locked up and abused with a bunch of uncivilized monkeys, soon takes a leadership role and plans a primate jail break. The rest of the movie is a mind bending escape over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco with the Muir Woods being the end destination.
I found the most amazing special effect of “Rise” to be the way the computer generated imagery was able to transform the countenance of the actor’s faces onto those of the apes. Actor Andy Serkis’ scowl is clearly seen on the face of Caesar when his dander is up and the other apes are clearly shown having personalities. I cannot wait to see what the digital wizards have in store for us in “Dawn.” Watch for my follow up on “Dawn” this weekend.
My Rating: 4 of 5 Banana Boys,