An enjoyably tight, straightforward prequel to the "Planet of the Apes" series, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" stars James Franco as Will Rodman, a scientist who has spent countless hours working on an Alzheimers drug that promises the possibility of a cure for the disease - which his father (John Lithgow) also suffers from.
However, attempts to try and push the drug through the production process eventually result in a drug that manages to have remarkable benefits for apes and that results in not-so-nice effects (death, in other words) for humans.
Meanwhile, Will loses the ape, the intelligent Caesar (played by Andy Serkis, doing the same manner of motion-capture work that he did for Gollum) that he'd raised from a little chimp due to an unfortunate incident. The ape is taken into the care of John Landon (Brian Cox) and his son, Dodge (Tom Felton, from the "Harry Potter" films.) Treated terribly, Caesar eventually pulls together a plan to try and break the apes free. There's a bit of a hint of a relationship between Will and Caroline (Frida Pinto, from "Slumdog Millionaire"), but there's really nothing to the relationship and the chemistry isn't there, either.
The movie's one key issue is that some of the human drama feels like a little bit of an afterthought, and the movie's ending feels both somewhat rushed and a tad low-key, which could also be due to the fact that the movie makes a point of spelling out the particulars of the ending of the film in advance. While I'm guessing that - unlike Burton's 2001 film - we'll get another in this series, this picture could stand okay if there isn't.
On a positive note, the film's key action sequence on the Golden Gate bridge is an impressive, drawn-out sequence that's engaging and entertaining. FX are really quite impressive, and the apes are well-done. The script could fill-out the human characters more, but Franco, Pento and others do at least offer a good effort in their roles.
Not without some mild issues, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is an improvement over Burton's remake and has a good deal going for it.
VIDEO: "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is presented in 2.35:1 (1080p) and the result is a visual delight. Sharpness and detail are first-rate, as fine details (virtual ape fur, other small object details) remained clear and well-defined throughout much of the running time. A little bit of edge enhancement was seen in a couple of scenes, but the picture otherwise looked smooth and clean. Colors looked bright and warm, with excellent saturation and no smearing or other faults.
SOUND: The film isn't a consistent action-fest, but once the action gets rolling in the back third of the film, the film's sound design really comes to life and the DTS-HD 5.1 presentation delivers bold, aggressive audio that captures the chaos well (especially the Golden Gate bridge scene.) Surround use throughout the film is enjoyable and the rear speakers do provide some mild use for effects and ambience in the calmer earlier portion of the film. Audio quality is perfectly enjoyable, with crisp, well-recorded effects and dialogue, as well as moments of very deep bass.
EXTRAS: writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver offer one audio commentary, while director Rupert Wyatt. Neither commentary is a classic track, but they're enjoyable - particularly the commentary from the writers, who provide a very good discussion of the development of the project. Wyatt provides a good discussion of the production, from effects to working with the cast.
We also get deleted scenes and a handful of documentaries: "The Genius of Andy Serkis", "Mythology of the Ape", "The Great Apes", " Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries", "A New Generation of Apes" and "Composing the Score".
We also get multiple development stages of a scene, trailers and BD-Live features.
Final Thoughts: Tight, engaging and mostly enjoyable, "Rise" isn't without a few issues but is otherwise an entertaining entry in the series.