Klavan On The Culture

Movie: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Well, this is pretty much everything you could ask for in a summer popcorn movie:  mindless fun from start to finish.  And if you’ll forgive my writerly prejudice, I think much of the reason for this lies in the script by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.  Brilliantly condensed without being rushed, smart without leaving behind the audience, and so engrossing its implausibilities are irrelevant, it’s almost a textbook on how to deliver a crowd pleaser that doesn’t insult the intelligence.

Could drive a man ape.

It’s basically a new Planet of the Apes origin story, tracing the whole business back to one genetically-altered chimp named Caesar who becomes too smart for our own good.  Great special effects, some visually stunning action scenes.  A wise decision to concentrate on backstory and motivation and leave the big set pieces for the end.  And best of all, you don’t really know who to root for, which gives the picture a little more edge than the usual piece of entertainment.

The biggest negative:  James Franco, who stars.  He can be good, but he phones this one in and it’s annoying.  On the other hand, the painfully beautiful and charming Freida Pinto (pictured above) from Slumdog Millionaire provides some thinking man’s eye candy.  And Andy Serkis – the actor who created Gollum in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Kong in the 2005 King Kong remake – is just terrific as Caesar.  The guy is having a kind of career that never existed before and is clearly great at what he does.

An all around good time.