How exactly a planet can rise I’m not sure. If you can get past the nonsensical title (that’s noticeably a bit of a mouthful) it’s easy to enjoy the film. Actually, there is something else to get past. The visual effects still have a way to come to make this kind of thing truly believable but you just have to roll with it. There is no way, though, that men in costumes could have done even half of the spectacular ape gymnastics. Anyway, to stop being a grumpy old spoilsport for just a minute, it’s good solid summer entertainment. It does what it says on the tin and more. It is strongly plot-led, and not just a series of action set-pieces with stuff written to simply link them together. It is also devotes much to character but with the main focus, uniquely, being on a primate.
Cesar the chimpanzee is orphaned in a research facility. He is of extraordinary heightened intelligence as his mother was dosed with an experimental Alzheimer’s drug. Dr James Franco takes him home and raises him with a little help from his father (the ever-reliable John Lithgow) who he is using as a guinea pig for the drug. What could possibly go wrong? In fact, I thought it had perfect sitcom potential…
Although there is much explaining to do, things don’t get bogged down in exposition. As a result, the action moves along swiftly. There’s some great inventiveness to the action which makes it a lot of fun. It isn’t just about blowing big things up (and it doesn’t feel like it was made by committee). The scenes in an ape “sanctuary”, which is anything but, are tense and engaging even though the things are just grunting at each other - albeit in a nuanced way by the likes of Andy “Gollum” Serkis.
Director Rupert Wyatt has made quite a leap from the humble but brilliant beginnings of 2008’s The Escapist. According to his agent, it is the largest increase in budget (proportionally) between films made by any director. With the increase being $90million I don’t doubt it. No pressure then for this his second feature. But Wyatt really brings it and has deservedly created one of the possible biggest hits of this summer.