Yeah, yeah. I know. This film concerns apes…not monkeys. But ‘Ape Business‘ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, now does it? In fact it sounds more like a present you’d find on the floor of their cage. (And Hollywood’s not really known for quality documentaries).
No this movie’s pure science fiction. Though I’d guess it’s equally palatable to those of you who dislike the whole sci-fi genre. In fact, it could be seen as more of a cautionary tale of scientific research gone horribly wrong.
Before we get into ‘Rise of…’ itself, let’s step back a few years and consider what came before this prequel. (And indeed, what came before that). When I was confronted with the (2001) Mark Wahlberg version of Planet Of The Apes, I must admit that: despite not squirming too uncomfortably in my seat, it still managed to give me a: ‘meh…preferred the Charlton Heston original (1968)‘ kinda feeling.
I guess for the generation who never saw the original they may have felt differently. I mean, as a science fiction fan, it had all the right ingredients: time travel; capture and subsequent escape; mystery to unravel (unless you knew what was coming); and nightmare ending. I did enjoy the movie. Honest. It’s just that 30+ years of advancement in the industry didn’t seem to add much to the cinematic experience. Movie cover versions can be much like their musical equivalent. If you’re not convinced you’re gonna improve on the original; why ‘kin bother? (Sometimes the risk pays off…and sometimes it doesn’t. Who dares wins…occasionally…I guess).
If anyone else is wrinkly enough to remember Mr. Heston’s 1968 outing, you may also remember the subsequent sequels, spin-offs, call them what you will. (‘Beneath…‘, ‘Escape from…‘, ‘Conquest of…‘ and ‘Battle for…‘). Each paling more and more by comparison, than the last. A prime example of Hollywood trying to milk every last drop out of the cash cow, I guess.
When I heard they’d started down the same path on the remake front, therefore; I guess I wasn’t expecting too much from this movie either. Not least ‘cos the ‘Planet…‘ remake vaguely sucked compared to the ‘Planet…‘ original. I guess my low expectations lead to a more enjoyable movie than Wahlberg provided.
Somehow I had it in my melon that this time round was a sequential repeat of the late 60s, early 70s too. Original concept/story first; then back-track and flesh out a prequel…or history of how it came to be. But looking at the titles above, (not sure I watched many of the movies), I must be getting muxed-ip with the 1974 TV series. (Which is probably what caused me to back-peddle and go watch 1 or 2 of the movies. All those years ago). But then again, this was all a hell of a long time ago; so it’s not surprising that my memory’s kinda fuzzy ;o)
Whatever. I guess it’s a fairly safe bet, that there’ll be more Ape related sagas in the pipeline. And this movie was quite a nice way to kick ’em off. (Tho’ Hollywood could leave well alone, as ‘Rise of…‘ actually stands quite nicely, as a story, in isolation).
In the interests of not giving too much of the plot away; I’ll just say that: it’s a look at the potential hazards of scientific research. As ever: noble scientists (or should that be potential Nobel scientists) striving for the greater good; looking for a cure to some debilitating disease. (In this case Alzheimer’s). But, it all goes pear-shaped, when corporate greedy buggers take short cuts and push things before the trial and error approach has chance to run it’s full course.
In that respect, it’s nothing too revolutionary or novel I suppose. But it was somehow still entertaining (or perhaps just better than the Wahlberg outing) for yours truly. The most enjoyable character portrayals for me were: James Franco in the lead role as scientist Will Rodman; John Lithgow as Will’s father Charles (not surprisingly an Alzheimer’s sufferer) and Tom ‘Malfoy’ Felton as an unlikeable (who would’ve Adam’n’Eve’d it?) handler at the Primate Shelter.
This movie’s not likely to find a slot in a ‘Krusty’s top 10 movies of all time’ list. But I’ve certainly seen worse. Got me to thinking of an even younger Felton, along side Jodie Foster, in the 1999 remake of Anna and the King actually. Prior to his Malfoy role in the Harry Potter franchise that is. I’m kinda hoping that the poor bugger doesn’t get typecast as oily/bad-guy characters for the rest of his career. Would be a shame if they don’t push a variety of roles his way and see what he’s capable of.
Kinda reminds me of veteran actor Jack Palance; who always stuck in my mind as the oily/bad-guy character of his day. The only semi-pleasant role I remember him in was as Curly Washburn in Billy Crystal’s City Slickers.