I'll admit, when I heard they were making a prequel to the "Planet of the Apes" series, and it was to be called "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," I LOL'd.
A cheesy, long-dormant franchise about talking simians rebooted? Starring James Franco, he of the seemingly stoned Oscar-hosting gig? And a title containing two clauses? (What's the sequel to this movie going to be called, I joked, "Return of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes"?)
Then I saw the movie, and the giggling stopped. Easily the best movie of this past summer, "RotPotA" is a thoroughly entertaining and thought-provoking film -- goofy title and all.
Set in the near-future, the story entails a young scientist, Will (Franco), who develops a serum to cure Alzheimer's. He tests it on a chimpanzee, Caesar (Andy Serkis provides the voice and body-motion capture), whose intelligence soars.
As the ape grows smarter, he begins figuring out that taking orders from people isn't really his bag. After being imprisoned in a facility for apes run by some cruel humans, Caesar leads a revolt against their evil overseers.
With terrific CGI special effects, a lot of smarts and visceral appeal, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" doesn't monkey around.
Fortunately, "RotPotA" is getting a first-class video release, stocked with tons of extras -- though you'll have to buy the Blu-ray edition to get most of the goodies.
The DVD does come with some nice stuff, including about a dozen deleted scenes, and featurettes on the mythology of apes and another focusing on the work of Serkis, who's become king of virtual acting.
Upgrade to the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack and you'll get eight additional featurettes covering everything from ape facts to how the filmmakers turned human actors jumping around in front of green screens into hairy gorillas and orangutans. There are also two separate commentary tracks by director Rupert Wyatt, and screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.
Movie: 3.5 stars out of four
Extras: 3.5 stars