12A – 105mins – Action/Drama/Sci-Fi – 11th August 2011
It’s been 10 years since the last Planet of the Apes film and looking back, it is fair to say that the years have not treated it too well- the ape costumes are verging on amusing rather than scary. This latest reboot brings us an origins story painting a picture of the beginning of the end for the human race and the start of dominance for the apes on Earth. They have brought back this franchise again with a movie that isn’t really part of said franchise. All other Planet of the Apes movies are set on a mystical planet whereas this is set on present day Earth and as such, although I understand why they did it (money money money), would have been better to disassociate with the Planet of the Apes brand.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a researcher for a pharmaceutical company working on a cure for Alzheimer’s- a disease close to his heart due to his father’s (John Lithgow) battle with the disease. When his leading test subject breaks free and ‘goes ape’ she is put down along with the rest of the project. However Will discovers she was only protecting her newborn child who he takes home and raises as part of his family. It soon becomes apparent that the drugs subjected to the baby chimp’s mother have been genetically passed on to him gifting the ape with extremely high levels of intelligence.
I’m not sure what I was wanting going into this movie and I’m not sure if what I saw was what I was expecting either. The success of the film hinges on the baby ape Caesar and his transformation from a curious and innocent ape to an older one who realises that no matter what his intelligence, he will never truly be accepted as more than an animal to those around him. As such, most of the film is based on the apes and Caesar’s plight which puts the human cast into the background. This muddies the waters giving the film no clear answers as to who it wants you to get behind and support- the apes or humans.
Its been a long time since the love story of any film wasn’t pushed and for once this has been achieved. So much so that I’m not really sure of the purpose of Caroline (Freida Pinto) at all. Tom Felton aka Malfoy lands a role so similar to his last that I was surprised he was not handed a cape and wand. If he was trying to shake his old persona this was not the way to achieve it. Ironically the one character I connected with and believed was the ape Caesar. Andy Serkis (aka Gollum, King Kong) has once again shown that body movement and facial expressions can trump speech any day and you really end up getting behind his story.
The movie links into the older franchise briefly and comes neatly to an end so why did it leave me longing for more. Not a longing in the sense that it was so good I needed my next hit but rather it felt as if it came to an end prematurely or at the very least they could have packed in a bit more humans Vs. ape action. The title in this sense is misleading. I would have gone for ‘Minor Nuisance in a Local City District of the Apes’ not quite as catchy you’ll agree but certainly nearer to what you can expect. What I’m getting at is the film builds and builds and builds just to the point when your leaning on the edge of your seat then 5 minutes later the credits start rolling.
I feel like I’ve been left with a bit of a quandary as on the one hand I did enjoy the film, it was well acted, the script was very strong and the CGI exceptional but on the other it left me feeling somewhat unfulfilled that more was not done with the storyline. If a second movie follows then that’s what I was expecting this one to be and it will certainly be near the top of my wish list for the future.