As with most prequels, the audience sits down to view “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” with a pretty solid understanding of what must happen. The apes get smart. They get mean. Humans get enslaved. Anyone who ever wanted to see chimpanzees and gorillas wage war against humans will be thrilled by the eighth entry to the “Planet of the Apes” franchise. The rest of us might be left a little underwhelmed.
Starring a bored-looking James Franco as a research chemist and Andy Serkis as researched-upon chimp Caesar, “Rise” plays out a cautionary tale about the dangers of animal testing. After rescuing a young Caesar from a scrubbed anti-Alzheimer’s project, Franco marvels as his newly adopted son become increasingly intelligent. The film really mines the fractured father/son relationships: whether it is between Franco and the soon-to-be revolutionary Caesar or an Alzheimer’s afflicted John Lithgow, Rise is hoping that at least a few hankies are pulled out during this summer blockbuster.
But what is the film trying to say? Don’t treat animals bad or they’ll blow up your fighter jets? It doesn’t seem like many people were chomping at the bit to see the story of Dr. Zaius’ ancestor but “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is here so somewhere, some studio executive must have data proving otherwise.