There are few films that have evolved into cultural shorthand quite so well as 1968’s Planet of the Apes. The Charlton Heston vehicle that saw the lead travel through time to a mysterious planet where talking apes ruled over mute and subjugated humans covered everything from civil rights and racism to nuclear politics under the guise of a sci-fi adventure into the twilight zone of role reversal. After all, it was Earth all along. And we blew it up. What followed was a phenomenal set of four sequels, two television series (including both a live action and animated one) and a 2001 remake. With nuclear annihilation less pertinent than it was during the height of the Cold War, a reboot to the franchise was long overdue.
In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, scientist Will Rodman (James Franco, Your Highness) is on the cusp of a cure for Alzheimer’s developed by testing an experimental drug on apes. The results are phenomenal, increasing both the intelligence of the apes and Will’s hopes of finding a cure for his ailing father (John Lithgow, Leap Year). When the experiments go awry, the lab director orders the apes destroyed, and Will finds himself in the care of the baby chimp Caesar (a motion-captured Andy Serkis, Burke & Hare). Quickly realising that Caesar is more intelligent than other apes, Will continues to work in secret. Until, that is, Caesar is ripped away from his human family, and is thrust amongst an abused ape population at an animal shelter.
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