No Monkey Business At All

It certainly does seem like a perplexing enigma, doesn’t it? Almost 40 years on and the Planet of the Apes franchise is alive and kicking and, above all else, still rearing its ugly head with the scars of its bloated past circa 1973. So is it possible for Rupert Wyatts’ reboot of the flea-bitten series (affectionately titled Rise of the Planet of the Apes) to set a brand new kick-off point and possibly even raise the bar?

At least it looks like it can from the ground up; what plays out first as a warped tale of genetics and animal cruelty morphs into a tale of humanity and revolution as genetically-modified ape Caesar (Andy Serkis) begins to rebel against human authority and usurp the balance of power between man and ape.

It’s a well-sustained plot that has enough humanity and emotion (as well as some striking parallels to racial oppression) behind it to stand up by itself. But it’s the performance of the actors that causes it to just miss out on the mark. Serkis fails to live up to his potential and instead lets the CGI and motion capture technologies carry the action so far.

This also could have been a breakout for James Franco (a mild-mannered scientist responsible for Caesar’s creation) and Tom Felton (a punk teenage guard who almost acts as an antagonist) – both of whom are placed in a similar position as Serkis considering their roles in the action.

But even then, when you consider the genuine inhumanity of every aspect of Burton’s 2001 remake (courtesy of the bloated visuals and makeup), Wyatt’s direction is a step up from the monkey business all that time ago.