Last updated: August 24. 2013 11:49AM - 75 Views

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The storyGenetic engineer Will Rodman (James Franco) and Caesar (Andy Serkin), a highly intelligent 5-year old chimp, communicate in sign language. ??Am I a pet?? asks Caesar. ??No.? ??Who is my father?? he asks. ??I am your father,? says Will. Caesar is doubtful. ??Who is Caesar?? he asks. That's the question. Where does Caesar fit in? Born at Gen-Sys, a pharmaceutical corporation, Caesar inherits his mother's high intelligence, which was dramatically increased by viral serum ALZ-112 that Will created to fight Alzheimer's. When the lab chimps are put down, Will takes infant Caesar to raise at home, where his father (John Lithgow) suffers from dementia. That's the setup.Where does Caesar fit in? In the world of humans? In the world of great apes? See this compelling, satisfying sci-fi prequel for answers.The actorsJames Franco's earnest scientist Will Rodman dominates the first third of the film, but for the rest, it's Andy Serkin's ??performance-capture? portrayal of Caesar that we care about. Removed from Will and his father's protective care, Caesar learns that human society will not accept him and, at a remarkably inhospitable ??primate shelter,? discovers he doesn't fit into ape society either. As Caesar, Andy Serkin ?? Gollum in ??Lord of the Rings? and the title role in ??King Kong? ?? gives an Academy-Award worthy ?? almost wordless ?? performance.Others in the cast include John Lithgow as Will's father Charles whose affection Caesar reciprocates. Ironically, it leads Caesar to incarceration in the ??shelter.? Brian Cox, Tom Felton and Jamie Harris are unsympathetic shelter staff. Frieda Pinto is primatologist-vet Caroline Aranha. She warns Will wisely, ??Some things aren't meant to be changed.? David Oyelowo is Gen-Sys bottom-line obsessed CEO. Richard Ridings, Christopher Gordon, Jay Caputor, Karin Konoval and Terry Notary are amazing great apes Buck, Koba, Alpha, Maurice and Bright Eyes. Kudos to them all. Other comments??Rise of the Planet of the Apes? is a smart, compelling sci-fi prequel to the 1968 film and 2001 remake. Rupert Wyatt directs Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver's intelligent script from Pierre Boulle's novel. The filmmakers persuade us to identify with Caesar and his primate allies. In my theater there was applause at the end and an audible sigh at the death of one of the great apes ?? evidence of the performance-capture actors' subtlety and CGI artists' skill. The script contains irony, plenty of action ?? the battle on the Golden Gate Bridge ?? and moments of sentiment, as when Caesar and Charles embrace. Fans of the 1968 film (like me) will get the verbal and visual homage.Rated PG-13 for violence, terror, sexuality and language, it runs just 105 minutes. Recommended for adults. Final wordsSee ??Planet of the Apes?Smart, compelling prequel ??Strong F/X, story, cast ??I hope there's a sequel.

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