If I had to describe it in one word: Awesome. If I get two words: Super-Awesome.
But I must admit up front that I am super-biased. Why?
1. I am a discerning dude who loves the appropriate kind of movie destruction – and I think destruction by Apes is very appropro.
2. I love James Franco (but I am not gay)
To dispel all suspicions to the contrary this film is not a remake of any of the old Planet of the Apes films, it is a reboot – this story has not been done before.
Notwithstanding this hyper-technical factoid, any type of remake, reboot, revisit of prior films poses all kinds of risks of a major letdown. Fortunately, I myself have no stake in the original series.
You have to take this film for what it is. It is not high art. There are gaps in the plot. But overall it is an exciting and enthralling film.
As a foundation, it effectively offers character sketches of the three strong lead actors: James Franco as a passionate, flighty, and somewhat socially inept scientist bent on helping the world; John Lithgow as a father struggling with Alzheimer’s, and Caesar the lead ape, the movie is really about him and they really did a great job humanizing this ape.
And then the film added some themes that I really like: humans tampering with the natural order, existentialism, and animal rights.
Finally, as one would hope, the apes (I am so tempted to call them monkeys but they aren’t), kick major ass – they tear things apart, they ride horses, they defeat the SWAT team – you can’t go wrong, here. I mean if you are not into the ape carnage, still see it for Franco and Lithgow.
OVERALL RATING: 4/5 DISHES