“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Doesn’t Monkey Around
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
I once met Cheeta, the chimpanzee who was Tarzan’s sidekick in many of those jungle movies of the ’40s and ’50s. At a publicity appearance with his trainer I got to touch him as he skittered up the aisle of a boardwalk pavilion.
A number of chimps played Cheeta in the movies. I’m not sure whether I met Harry, Zippy, or Cheetah-Mike. By my count, more than a dozen chimps (and one human) portrayed Tarzan’s bud in 90 or so movies.
We’re fascinated by these human-like primates. They are so much like us. Or us like them.
In a 1963 French novel called “La Planète des singes,” author Pierre Boulle imagined a topsy-turvy world in which apes ruled.
This fascinating sci-fi concept was turned into a same-named movie – “Planet of the Apes” – in 1968. And five sequels plus a remake followed that film.
Now Twentieth Century Fox is rebooting the series (read: starting it over) with a new film called “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” It’s currently being exhibited at the Tropic Cinema.
Ubiquitous James Franco (he acts, he writes, he paints, he hosts) takes the lead as a scientist working on an Alzheimer’s cure using apes as his test subject. His experiment genetically modifies an ape named Caesar to create a new breed with human-like intelligence.
Yep, he’s smarter than Koko, the gorilla who learned sign language. And (as the film’s title implies) he is going to rise up and lead other apes to take over the planet.
The real star here is Andrew C. G. “Andy” Serkis, the British actor who plays Caesar, the smart ape who leads the revolution. Serkis received the Saturn Award as Best Supporting Actor for his CGI-enhanced performance as Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.” No stranger to monkeyshines, he also played the title role in the 2005 “King Kong” remake.
The Oscar-winning visual effects team who brought you “Avatar” and “Lord of the Rings” has outdone itself with the lifelike CGI ape Caesar.
John Lithgow (TV’s “Third Rock From the Sun”) plays James Franco’s dad, a man afflicted with Alzheimer’s. He may be the only person who can stop the onslaught of apes. But don’t count on it. Sequels are planned.
Where’s Charlton Heston when we need him? Or even zookeeper Kevin James?
[from Solares Hill]