2011 is the year of the apes!
The prequel to the classic Planet of the Apes is pretty amazing.
The two most important questions are greatly answered: How did the apes come to revolt again humans? And, how did they learn to speak?
It all starts with Bright Eyes, a chimpanzee given a retrovirus that is being tested to cure Alzheimer's disease in humans--- but in the process--- it gives her the intelligence of a human being. Bright Eyes is killed after going well ape, one day--- and it is learned then that she was pregnant. Caesar, her son, is taken in by a sympathetic scientist Will (James Franco, 127 Hours) and brought up from birth to adulthood learning all things human, including how to talk--- but via sign language. *SPOILER: When Caesar is full grown--- one day he goes on a rampage defending Will's sick father (John Lithgow, 3rd Rock from the Sun t.v. show) with Alzheimer's disease who jumps into a neighbor's car forgetting he doesn't have one anymore--- and Caesar is taken away by animal control and sent to live with other apes. Caesar doesn't like it of course and just wants to go home but can't. Of course he is bullied by the other apes because he is different (he isn't wild, can sign and wears pants and a shirt). And one of the abusive guards doesn't like him especially and extra abuses him. But he learns to adapt, slowly starts to like his new home with his own kind and eventually gains dominance over the other apes (by beating up the ape who bullied him). He breaks out of the facility one night and goes back to the GEN-SYS lab where his mother was killed and he was born and steals the retrovirus which he unleashes upon the other apes. With all the apes now smarter, they break out of the facility and wreck havoc all over San Francisco, starting with GEN-SYS and ending the destruction on the Golden Gate Bridge.*
Some of the best scenes include Caesar speaking for the first time (he only speaks twice), seeing the apes supplicate to each other, the apes holding a meeting as they plot their take-over and the Golden Gate Bridge battle between them and police.
Pay attention closely to see the cool homages to the original Planet of the Apes: Caesar's mother's name is Bright Eyes, which was the nickname for Charlton Heston's character in the 1968 POA by the female chimp Zira who took a likening to him, one of the female apes in the facility is named Cornelia, and Zira's fiance's name was Cornelius, Caesar in one scene is playing with a Statue of Liberty night light, as "the Statue of Liberty scene" was the shocker in the very first POA, the abusive guard tells Caesar, "Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!" which is the famous line Charlton Heston's character tells an ape in the original--- also a guard is watching a Charlton Heston movie at one point.
The human cast is disappointingly so-so (Franco, Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire, David Oyelowo, The Last King of Scotland) but the apes are real stars anyway so that's okay. One of the most amazing things about Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the apes are computer generated using motion capture. The apes look so very real it's really impossible to tell they are fake.
Caesar, the lead of the movie, is "played" by Andy Serkis (the creepy little Gollum monster of the Lord of the Rings films and 2005's King Kong) using motion capture. To see Serkis bring Caesar to life is just incredible.
The ending is very satisfying and the post-credits scene sets up for an exciting sequel to come involving New York...
We should ready ourselves to hail Caesar!