Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writers: Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Starring: James Franco, Freida Pinto, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Tom Felton, Brian Cox
An alternate origin story for the formerly Charlton Heston-led franchise, Rise details the story of scientist Will Rodman (Franco) as he tries to develop a cure for Alzheimer's, partially to save the mind of his father (Lithgow). He tests it to great success on a chimp, and later finds out that the chimp's offspring (Serkis) has been affected in a more fantastical way that he could ever have imagined.
I was a little worried about this one. So many reboots/remakes/belated sequels fall quite a bit short of the original, but Rise ended up thoroughly enjoyable. Not only does it have about five blatant callbacks to the original (which most of the midnight audience seemed to not pick up on, judging by what they reacted to) for the older crowd, it was able to be strong in its own right, and very possibly the beginning of another franchise. The thing that I think separates this from the 1968 original, however, is that it's more the apes' story (especially Caesar, the main chimpanzee) than man's. The screenplay makes you really feel for the apes, most of all Caesar, which would fall short itself were it not for the spectacular performance of Andy Serkis (Gollum, King Kong) and the photorealistic motion-captured apes courtesy of WETA Digital. Unfortunately, I thought Franco was a bit miscast; he's turned into a bit of a parody of himself lately, and I'd like to see him take a break for a while and come back with another 127 Hours-type role. There's also a moment involving Felton's character (who makes as great an American bully as he does a British one) that makes you think "what the hell was this guy thinking?" but it's a lone moment in the film. Not one of my top 5 of the year, I don't think, but still a very strong, solid summber blockbuster. A-