Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Raise your hand if you liked Tim Burton's remake of The Planet of the Apes. No one? Really?
I'm not going to lie: When I first heard they were making another Apes movie I had zero (and I mean zero) expectations for it. Oh, and it's a prequel to the worst movie in the series, including the TV-made films which were as well acted as KISS movie?! Fantastic!
However, the film was very rich in how there could possibly be a takeover of the animals in a not-too-distant future if we continue in our current path. Think of a fictitious version of An Inconvenient Truth, with apes.
However, one has to look at it in another way: How else would we test for a cure for horrible diseases without the possibility of making the animal aware that they are being treated as, well, an animal? If this were to happen, wouldn't said animal want to help his fellow "man" out and save them too?
Rise is about Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist who thinks he has found the cure for Alzheimer's; all he needs is a human subject, like his father, Charles (John Lithgow) to be sure. The apes Rodman is using for testing show the drug he is giving them creates a "disease" that greatly improves the apes skills and recollection, named ALZ-112 . But after a presentation gone horribly wrong, ending in the death of his starred ape, the board says no and they have to start again.
The ape, named Bright Eyes, had a child the other scientists want to save from further testing, so Rodman takes it home and keeps Caesar (played by Andy Serkis, who also play Kong in King Kong), until a proper habitat can be found for him.
However, Rodman takes a liking to the lil guy and keeps him as a pet, routinely taking him to the vet, where Rodman meets his girlfriend, Caroline (Freida Pinto).
Over the years, Rodman notices Caesar is behaving oddly, and has taken on many of the traits that his mother had. After running a few tests, we learn that Caesar has the ALZ-112 disease which he got while in-utero.
From here, the movie takes the approach you are expecting: Caesar suspects he is a "pet" and not really like a friend. After an attack on a neighbor, saving Charles from an Alzheimer's episode, Caesar is put in a habitat and talks to the other apes that the world they are living in is garbage and they should take it back (using a very good analogy I believe Mussolini used), and you know they do.
Director Rupert Wyatt, best known for The Escapist, takes a realistic approach to the Apes world, because the book (yes, I've read all 100 some pages of Pierre Boulle's novel) doesn't explain how everything went down. The later films do explain, somewhat, but nothing is set in stone. Using Alzheimer's was a perfect choice, because, how else would someone become more aware of how bad their situation is if they don't know? When they did, they would probably do whatever they could to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Franco also pulls out a pretty good card as a young, passionate scientist who wants the apes to be back in their habitat and feels that we, as humans, are using them at our expense. But, the acting show stealer was barely in it, he was the the handler in the habitat for the apes: Tom Felton, better known as Draco from the Harry Potter world. That kid is perfect as a cruel, mean, bastardly early 20's guy. I wanted to reach in the screen and smack him.
Rise doesn't try to erase the past films by creating a new start, it give us background to what we know what will happen; what a prequel should do. It was testing that led to their takeover; our testing. We started it and it was them who finished it. It's like the kid you pick on and he finally lashes back at you. Makes sense.
Yes, I'm aware this is a similar plot to Deep Blue Sea and I would be willing to go out and say it's close to a straight rip off, but it's a good movie, whereas Sea had Sam Jackson being eaten by a shark.
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Written by: Pierre Boulle, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
Stars: James Franco, Freida Pinto and John Lithgow