When Hollywood revisits an iconic sci-fi franchise, there's plenty of reasons for fans to be wary. Since nearly all decisions in Hollywood are made for money or rights, the chances of anyone putting the quality of the entertainment at the forefront of their decision-making process doesn't always happen. Geek expectations are high, to say the least. So what happens when Fox dips back to the Planet of the Apes well again, but comes at us with a completely different story than before? Did we really need more talking apes actin' all superior to us? Turns out this movie makes a good case for YES! And, surprisingly, it works.
To be clear, this is NOT a reboot as some have called it, at least in the sense that it doesn’t start at the same point as the original Charlton Heston film. It’s also technically not a prequel, even though what’s presented could logically be tied to the classic that started it all (there are more than a few fanservice nods). It starts the film at a point where it actually began. There is no mystery anymore about the planet the astronauts land on being a conquered earth. The destroyed remnants of the Statue of Liberty no longer shock and haunt audiences as they did in the 60s when the film debuted. We can now get on to answering the big question: “How in the world did apes actually take over the world?” While we don’t see that tipping point take place in this film (pray for a sequel), we do get to experience the genesis of why it happened and how it is absolutely possible, given the circumstances presented in the film. The biggest problem I had back when I saw the original made me wonder if the smart apes just overwhelmed us, despite our massive weapons systems and sheer numbers. But I knew that no matter how smart the apes got, there were lots more smart humans and such an uprising would be completely impossible. Thankfully, the movie answers that question in a way that makes complete sense and is truly satisfying.
That’s the best part about this film. While it’s full of strong actors like James Franco, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, and John Lithgow, their characters and their struggles (though important), never get in the way of what the movie is about: Caesar the ape. Superbly performing another faceless virtual role, masked completely in his digital character, Andy Serkis brings depth and real character to Caesar, something that couldn’t be done if they had worked with real apes. Purist snobs will kvetch over the heavy CGI, but in this case, I’m embracing it and I don’t mind it one bit. Yes, we know Caesar and his fellow primates are so very not real, but the performances and the digital artists are so good that you forget that fact.
Add the fact that the reasoning behind everything that takes place is originally based out of good motives and realistic science makes the film that much more complete and not just a hollow effects romp with apes fighting humans. This is a movie worth your time.
But you don’t have to believe me, because I’m not the official movie reviewer here. That’s Luis’s job. Check out what he had to say in the video below…