The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Movies

August 4, 2011

Review: 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' doesn't monkey around

ANDERSON, Ind. — “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is just the beginning ... of our end.

BACKGROUND: In 1968’s “Planet of the Apes,” an astronaut crew lost in space for hundreds of years crash lands on a planet where apes are the dominant species and humans are slaves. The film starred Charleston Heston as Colonel George Taylor and a host of actors, including Roddy McDowall, wearing cosmetic prosthetics as the apes. It contained one of the most iconic and memorable endings in film history as Heston, upon discovering a half-buried Statue of Liberty, realizes the planet is Earth.

The film was a commercial success and launched a promising franchise. Four more films followed — “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970), “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971), “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (1972) and “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” (1973). There were also two short-lived television series, “Planet of the Apes” in 1974 and the animated “Return to the Planet of the Apes” in 1975.

The movie was “re-imagined” by director Tim Burton in 2001. The new “Planet of the Apes,”starring Mark Wahlberg, was a financial success ($362 million worldwide) but was polarizing among critics. Many found the ending, which involved a kind of time travel, too confusing, while others praised its visuals and striking makeup designs. Despite its good box-office numbers, Fox opted to forgo a sequel, which Burton said would have explained the film’s cliffhanger ending.

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a reboot and meant to set the foundation for an entirely new franchise. It does not exist within the previous franchise’s continuity.

SYNOPSIS: Scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is working on a cure Alzheimer’s disease, an affliction slowing stealing his father, Charles (Jon Lithgow), from him. He tests an experimental serum on chimpanzees, and, just when he thinks he’s found success, a terrible accident shuts down his project and the chimps are euthanized. But one of the test subjects has given birth, and Will takes the baby home, where he discovers his cure not only repairs damage in the brain but has altered how the chimp Caesar (Andy Serkis) thinks and learns, starting the planet down a slippery slope toward ape domination.

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