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Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Alternate Title: Render to Caesar

Story: This cautionary tale is loaded with fun, fine acting, pathos, action, and perhaps the return of a successful franchise. Set in a contemporary framework, genetic scientist Will Rodman has been working on a drug that could repair brain cells and become the cure for Alzheimer's. His test subjects are apes. Not surprisingly, things go awry in the lab. His test subjects are destroyed and Will sneaks a baby chimpanzee out of the lab, goes home and his testing continues in secret. What can go wrong, you say?

There were a number of visual and audio references to the original 1968 Planet of the Apes. A few other people in the audience laughed out loud as I did. Is this a movie that will change your life? Gads, no - but I would say it is a 'B' movie with an 'A' heart.

I was rooting for the apes the entire film. It seemed as if the apes were growing in leaps and bounds and the humans were learning nothing. Score: Apes, 10, humans, 0.

Don't leave the theater until the credits start to roll or you will miss a key ingredient of the film. I would say that 90% of this audience missed it.

The film was directed by Rupert Wyatt and written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It is based on the novel, Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbCoDf44oCE

From the original 1968 film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVo7O349BFk

Acting: James Franco as Will Rodman was sincere without getting campy. Freida Pinto as Caroline had an unnecessary part. John Lithgow as Charles Rodman was fine as was Brian Cox as mean old John Landon. A huge shout out to Andy Serkis as Caesar and Terry Notary as Bright Eyes/Rocket..

Predilection: I like the franchise.

Trivia: In 1999, Andy Serkis landed the prize role of Gollum in Peter Jackson's epic film trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's saga 'The Lord of the Rings'. He spent four years on the part and received awards and nominations for his performance as Gollum, a computer generated character in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) which won 11 Oscars. He was ruled ineligible for a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 2003 Academy Awards because his character Gollum in Lord of the Rings onscreen was computer generated.

Critters: Lots and lots of chimpanzees, an orangutan, a gorilla and a German Shepard.

Blatant Product Placement: Apple

Soundtrack: Loud

Opening Titles: A horrifying opening sequence of the chimps being stolen out of the wild.

Visual Art: Great visuals throughout.

Theater Audience: Pretty crowded for an 11 AM Saturday showing.

Squirm Scale: Animal testing is very squirmy.

Drift Factor: I was attentive throughout.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: I admit to tearing up in a few scenes. I know, I know - I am a sucker for a sad animal tale.

Oscar Worthy: Maybe for the visual effects.

Big Screen or Rental: Big screen for sure.

Length: Under two hours.