Curious as to whether or not you should plunk down your hard-earned dollars on a movie about James Franco dealing with some peskily sentient and maybe sorta kinda revolutionary apes that might just one day really piss off Charlton Heston? Well, if so, dig our round up of what the critics thought of Rise of the Planet of the Apes below—we’ve laid out a representative of critical pros and cons concerning the new ape flick.
As both a simian simile and a wonder of technology, Rise of the Planet of the Apes deserves to be in the company of the great original Kong. This year’s sixth “origins” story of a fantasy franchise (after The Green Hornet, Thor, X-Men: First Class, Green Lantern and Captain America: The First Avenger) is also the year’s finest action movie.
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” traces the roots of the venerable franchise back to a single resident of contemporary San Francisco, a supersmart simian named Caesar. In the process, the film, which Rupert Wyatt directed from an audacious screenplay by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, rises above its dramatic deficits, boosts the collective IQ of this summer’s movies and swings into flights of kinetic fantasy that blow the collective mind.
The biggest disappointment of the halfhearted, digitally impersonal Rise of the Planet of the Apes, apart from how just-okay it is in almost every way, is that the grandeur is gone…unlike good sci-fi, it doesn’t signify anything, or really even try to — it’s just an apes-on-the-rampage creature feature, with a decent setup, a wobbly second act, and a glorified-videogame urban-action-war payoff.
Constructed around the reliable premise that if you slather on the spectacle, audiences won’t notice the script’s idiocies — otherwise known as the Avatar effect — this so-called origin picture is no more than a narrative outline padded with moderately special effects, a teaser for the sequels that will surely follow.
And The Ugly:
Faced with the horror of half-assed material from which he can’t escape, James Franco allows himself to be steamrolled by his pet monkey. The proof is the dynamic between the multi-hyphenate entertainer and his infinitely more animated animal co-star in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a relationship not unlike the one between the actor and Anne Hathaway at the 83rd Academy Awards.
James Franco looks more bored and distracted in Rise of the Planet of the Apes than he did when he was hosting the Oscars: Watching the movie, I kept waiting for him to pull out his iPhone, aim it at the camera and take a snapshot while mugging sheepishly. Has there ever been a film with a less engaged protagonist?
Will you be seeing Rise of the Planet of the Apes?