The Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Tuesday, December 06 th, 2016 at 00:12 am 

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes

JOY REVIEW

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes:  All right, this is the sixth in the series of the Planet of the Apes, and we all remember the first one with Charleton Heston and when we discovered that the Planet of the Apes is really New York City because we uncover the Statue of Liberty, ooooh.

All right, the films between the first and this one have been lame, to say the least. Or we could say hairy or mouth breathers or knuckle draggers, whatever, ha ha ha.

This one is terrific.  It’s the smartest, it’s the most astute it’s the best in terms of excitement; this is a terrific movie.  It stars James Franco, Frieda Pinto and Andy Serkis who plays Caesar the Ape, while Brian Cox plays the bad guy.

All right, here is the deal.  James Franco plays a scientist who is working in San Francisco to find something to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s, which is personally motivated because I forgot to tell you that John Lithgow is his father who has serious Alzheimer’s.  So he has a vested interest in doing it, and they’ve been trying it on apes.  And one of the apes, Bright Eyes, shows remarkable intelligence, so this begins to look a little like Charlie and some of the other movies, and this is a wonderful companion piece for Project Nim, which is a real story of people trying to teach an ape to talk in the ’60s, but I digress…

So the point is, he finds this miracle drug, and tests it on the ape.  The ape seems to respond well, so they have a big stockholders meeting to show how well it’s working, and the ape goes berserk.  It turns out — I’m not giving away much plot — the ape goes berserk because the ape was pregnant and thought people were coming after her baby.

So they are given the dictate to euthanize all the monkeys, and James Franco takes this little baby one-day-old ape home because he just can’t bear to put it down.  And it turns out that apparently the drug has crossed the placenta, and so the baby is incredibly smart and bonds, in fact, with John Lithgow.  And they sort of set up this whole situation for the monkey to become vaguely human and sign and all sorts of things.

The rest of the plot, as you might guess, is that they then find out that the drug only works for a short time, at least on people, and so they then have to get another drug.  And I’m not going to tell you much more about the plot except to say that if you’re curious about the title, it will be made obvious to you in the last several moments of the movie, as will the fact that there is obviously going to be a sequel.

But this is one of the best movies of the summer!  I would put it in the same category as Transformers and Harry Potter and Captain America and I had no expectations.  I thought, oh, please, why are they doing this?  But this is a smart, funny movie with a couple of inside nods to the original, including baby Caesar putting together a puzzle of the Statue of Liberty — get it, wink wink?  Also at one point, one of the guys says, take your filthy, dirty monkey hands off of me.  Remember that, wink wink?  So this is four and a half stars.  It’s a terrific movie.  You’ll enjoy yourself enormously but don’t take small kids to it, too intense and scary.

JOY METER1/2