Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton
Runtime: 105 min
The Planet of the Apes franchise receives yet another reboot, this time directed by Rupert Wyatt and developed by the same visual effects team that brought us The Lord of the Rings and Avatar.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and when he finds one possible solution (ALZ-112), apes are his company's test subjects. A successful result changes everything and an act of compassion leads to the Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
So, War for the Planet of the Apes has already been released by now, but I didn't want to review the end of an amazing trilogy without first giving you my opinion on the other two films. This is still a SPOILER-FREE review, even if this movie has been around for 6 years now.
This is a great start to another (and hopefully the last) reboot of a well-known franchise, Planet of the Apes. It's easy to say what definitely stands out: the visual effects. All of the CGI apes are incredibly realistic, especially Caesar (Andy Serkis) who is a terrific masterpiece, not only visually, but as a character as well. He's surprisingly the protagonist of the movie, a decision that I congratulate the director and production team for, because it transformed it into a much more captivating and interesting film.
Andy Serkis is the God of motion capture, it's amazing the amount of emotion he's able to transmit as a guy in a spandex suit full of white dots on his face. Caesar is one of the most fantastic and intriguing characters I've ever watched and the fact that there's almost no dialogue throughout the film just proves that you can achieve great things with pure emotion (and some sign language ... ).
James Franco is good portraying an also well-developed character, even if he wasn't as great as he could be. The script is very smart and emotional (mainly due to the extremely well-directed no-dialogue scenes) and the action is super awesome, particularly because of its emotional side. The fact that we actually care about the apes (maybe even more than the humans) elevates the action-heavy third act and brings the movie home (no pun intended), with a very strong ending.
In spite of all this, it's still not a perfect film. Even if the runtime isn't properly long, the film's pacing (principally the second act) is really slow, which drags the movie into almost a boring state. As I said above, the story is captivating, but only when we're with Caesar and his respective families ... All of the human drama inside the Gen-Sys Laboratories isn't really interesting, but we still get too much of it.
Finally, the side characters. Besides Caesar, Will and his father (brilliantly portrayed by John Lithgow), no one else got the chance to shine on the big screen. Most of them are plot devices in order to get the story going and actually have a film: the "bad guys" are just bad because ... Well, they're assholes, I guess they were born that way ... I would have preferred that they spent a little more time with those characters instead of the company's dramas.
All in all, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is an excellent start to this reboot that proves we don't need dialogue to transmit a great amount of emotion. The CGI is flawless, Caesar being the huge proof of what a masterpiece looks like, visually and character-wise. A slow pace and some under-developed side characters bring the movie down a bit, but the captivating and emotional story, plus a very well-directed action-heavy third act, elevate the film into one of the best in the whole franchise.