I love those apes. Maybe it’s because I’m a hairy beast myself, but any time the simians appear on screen I light up with joy. It doesn’t matter if it’s the movie commonly known as the crap Tim Burton Planet of the Apes (which I love) or if it’s at the end of a Mel Brooks flick and their only line is, “Spaceballs! Oh shit, there goes the neighborhood.”
Those original sixties and seventies versions of Planet of the Apes always mixed grooviness with science fiction angst and left us with terribly cynical endings about the evils of humanity. The apes with their quiet dignity and sharp wardrobe served as a reminder of our barbarism. We are our own worst enemy and if we don’t get our act together they’re going to take over the planet and we will be stuck in cages with voluptuous women in loincloth.
The new addition to the Ape canon, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, explains how the apes took over the planet. While the first movie warned us of nuclear destruction this movie serves as a warning to higher institutions to stop selling James Franco advanced academic degrees or he might find himself in a position where he can infect humanity with a debilitating virus and give apes increased intelligence.
This is a worthy successor to the ape lineage even though the computer generated images are often times blatantly ridiculous. They make chimpanzees super strong and agile. Gorillas are able to leap hundred feet into the air which for some reason seemed more ludicrous than an ape talking and wearing clothes. After training us for decades to believe apes with their prosthetics and make-up have limited flexibility beyond the ability to ride horses, you can not suddenly have them swinging around redwood trees and climbing buildings like Spider-man.
But Rise of the Planet of the Apes gives us a strong enough story and monkeys you can root for, so you don’t get too caught up in the phoniness of the special effects. Any time the movie threatens to take itself too seriously, they throw in a campy bad guy who gets his kicks from tasering the monkeys or they show James Franco working on a math equation. It fills in all the holes nicely on how we get a planet of the apes leaving only one question unanswered. What happened to Mark Wahlberg at the end of the last movie?