Taking notes heavily from Franklin J. Schaffner’s original 1968 classic Planet of the Apes, Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes may be the best installment of the series since the original.
Completely ignoring Tim Burton’s failed 2001 remake, Rise carries far greater importance than any of the subsequent sequels/follow-ups. This story is inspired by the prophet mentioned in Schaffner’s original film; later addressed as Caesar by Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (this new film is essentially a reconfiguration of Conquest). However unlike that aforementioned film, Rise focuses on Caesar’s coming-of-age story and his rather teen-like approach to viewing the world.
Played by the great Andy Serkis via motion capture technology and computer-generated renderings, his Caesar is a young mind trying to understand what he is and what his future entails. His “father,” played by a mature James Franco, has enhanced his learning abilities in an effort to find a cure to Alzheimer’s disease. Humorously enough, another film attempted to tackle this idea (Deep Blue Sea), but did not handle it nearly as well or as maturely as Rise does. This storyline handles the subject with delicate care (as demonstrated through John Lithgow’s fantastic performance as Franco’s ailing father) while Caesar learns to love humans and learns to live with his hate; a hatred toward being different.
Schaffner’s film was about an animalistic human being lost in an ape’s world. Wyatt’s film is about a human-like animal lost in a human’s world.