Apes taking over the world. That's precisely the summed up version of the movie in a sentence. Here, the apes are shown as the smarter ones. That could be forgiven, given that the main protagonist in this movie is a chimp who gathers more attention than James Franco.
Set in present day San Francisco, the movie is about a scientist's (James Franco) experiments with genetic engineering. His creation is tested on apes and it leads to the progression of intelligence in the apes and the aftermath is what the movie is about. Considering that many viewers didn't have very high expectations with the film, it has indeed come as a surprise that many of them are actually warming up to the movie.
With every sequel to the 1968 classic tanking at the box office, this prequel comes as a refreshing change. The story begins with Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist who is working on a retrovirus, a supposed cure for Alzheimers which may cure his dad. His initial test subject, a female chimp Bright Eyes goes on a rampage and is killed. With that, further chances of developing the retrovirus is halted for Rodman.
All of the chimpanzees are put down after that incident except the baby chimp of Bright Eyes. Will raises the chimp in his house and calls it Caesar (Andy Serkis). Having inherited his mother's intelligence, Caesar grows and learns at an alarming rate. At one point Caesar is forced to leave Will's house and is sent to San Bruno, a primate facility. Who better to ill treat Caesar and the other apes there other than Draco Malfoy himself (Tom felton, of Harry Potter fame who plays the caretaker's son).
Eventually Caesar ecapes from the facility and heads back to Will's house. Will in the meanwhile has created another retrovirus much more powerful than the previous one. Caesar gets hold of it and releases it enhancing the intelligence of his mates. What happens after that forms the rest of the movie.
The final scenes filmed at the Golden Gate Bridge where the ape troops wreck havoc is captured with sheer brilliance. Credit goes to the cinematographer Andrew Jesnie. The motion capture in this movie is flawless. Even the emotions on Caesar's face are captured beautifully. The visual effects for this movie is done by Weta Digital of Avatar fame. There are some flaws in the movie with the characters getting a bit uninteresting at times and a few loose ends here and there.
James Franco does justice to the role of the young scientist Will Rodman. Frieda Pinto plays the uninteresting, tagging along girlfriend of Will who has no proper role in the movie.
The star of the show, however, is Andy Serkis, who famously portrayed Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies. He plays the lead ape Ceasar in the movie and is a delight to watch
Rise of the Planet of the Apes, while not surpassing the 1968 classic, is definitely worth a watch and doesn't disappoint.