Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a lot better than I was expecting. I'd heard a few reviews that were good, and a bunch that weren't before seeing it. In this case it looks like the good reviews got it right.
The story centers around Caesar, the first chimpanzee to develop human level intelligence under a project by the film's version of the money before sense corporation (in other words, a realistic portrayal of corporate America). The plot line is fairly typical in that it's the old, humans abuse new, lovable creature and then creature gets pissed and kicks some human butt thereby inciting conflict between humans and creature. However, it's done with a level of excellence rarely seen in today's films. Not only is Caesar's story compelling, but the side stories around his are deeply emotional and human.
James Franco and John Lithgow's story is meant to set up the motivation for why Will Rodman (James Franco) is so motivated to press forward with his dangerous genetic research. It's really there just to let the audience understand why someone would perform the experiments that create Caesar, but it becomes compelling all on its own. I found myself almost as wrapped up in it as I did the main story.
Which brings me to why this movie is exceptional. As much as the human side of the film was good, ultimately it was the ape scenes that I was on my edge of my seat to see more of. By the end of the film, I was not only on the ape's side, but I almost didn't care what was going on with the humans anymore.
The movie did have a few flaws, but they were minor. For example, they could have done the explanation for why the apes will ultimately take over the planet better (that'll make sense when you see it), and parts of Charles Rodman's (John Lithgow) story could have been a little more realistic (the conflict scene), but those were the only two things I could think of that needed improvement. They aren't even that big a deal, just two things that needed polishing.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a definite must see. There's a great nod to the original films that serves simultaneously as a set up for a sequel, which I really, really hope they make. It's subtle, so watch out for it, but it's there.
Have a great week all!