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Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Stars: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Andy Serkis, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Tyler Labine

Director: Rupert Wyatt

So now we see how it all started, and the mystery of how apes were able to take over the earth is solved. A young scientist (Franco) is on the verge of final testing for a formula (112) that may cure Alzheimer's and certainly seems to be improving the intelligence of the chimps it's being tested on.

After an ape goes berserk, however, ostensibly in defence of her newborn baby, the project is killed - along with all the chimps (bit harsh). Save the baby, that is, which Franco does, calling him Caesar and raising him in his own home.

All goes well for several years, including the recovery of Franco's doddery dad (Lithgow), with the help of some 112 Franco has nicked from the lab, but the wheels come off when Lithgow starts to regress - 'his system has found a way to fight the 112 virus, so that it can't deliver its therapy'.

When the old man jumps into a neighbour's car and triggers mayhem, Caesar rushes to his rescue and attacks the neighbour. Sent to an animal 'sanctuary', Caesar becomes sullen and rebellious, not surprising when it's run by Cox, the original Hannibal Lecter, and Felton, alias Draco Malfoy.

Well, Franco invents an even more powerful serum and you can guess most of the rest. None of this is remotely credible when you think about it, but the action is excitingly staged - especially a Golden Gate Bridge battle between apes and humans - and there's lots of it, accompanied by a crashing background score from Patrick Doyle.

Franco makes an engagingly sympathetic, if misguided hero, and Cox & Felton are commendably, if two-dimensionally nasty. Unfortunately, Serkis can't endow the adult Caesar with anything but one-note grimness and the apes themselves never really engage our sympathy.

Even so, it's a refreshingly, stimulatingly well made re-emergence of the series.

David Quinlan

USA 2011. UK Distributor: 20th Century-Fox. Colour by deluxe.
104 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 06 Aug 2011