Remakes and prequels are dangerous things for die hard film fans and Rise of the Planet of The Apes treads on thin ice as the studio and filmmakers remake one of the greatest movies of all time. The original 1968 Planet of the Apes which starred Charlton Heston is one of the greatest b-movie sci-fi adventures ever made. It is also one that we diehard fans do not take remaking lightly. Remakes by definition are dubious. I see them as an easy cash in on my early film memories. Mix in some CGI, cast a few 20’somethings with nice teeth and voila a movie for a new generation that disrespects the original and the fans who love it.
In 2001 Tim Burton remade Planet of the Apes taking things to a futuristic origins story with Mark Wahlberg in the lead. The film featured updated monkey suits which paid homage to the original but was much darker and starker with most of the original charm of the 60’s epic missing. Gone was the isolation, the stark world and the classic 60’s sci-fi charm. Instead Tim Burton gave us a popcorn action movie with lots of action, very little substance and a much darker and very much classic Tim Burton look at the world of the Planet of the Apes. I enjoyed it for what it was, a mindless popcorn action movie, but it was a shadow of the original film.
Rupert Wyatt very much like Tim Burton takes the film to new areas with his origins story but unlike Tim Burton he heads in a completely new and original direction. Where Tim Burton took it to new futuristic levels director Rupert Wyatt takes the story of the Planet of the Apes back to reality and places it in a highly plausible modern day.
John Lithgow plays James Franco’s father who is stricken with Alzheimer’s which is the basis for the entire chimp uprising. In the film James Franco plays Will Rodman the kind hearted but misguided research scientist looking for a cure for his father who inadvertently turns his apes into super intelligent revolutionary apes. Freida Pinto who starred in Slumdog Millionaire is the female lead playing a primatologist and love interest to James Franco’s character.
Rupert Wyatt dares to take the Planet of the Apes franchise someplace new with his prequel story. Where the original was a b-movie adventure and Burtons was a dark action adventure Rupert Wyatt has made a movie full of substance, heart and heavy social commentary with a top notch cast. The screenwriters of Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes a highly un-plausible 60’s b-movie and steeps it in just enough real science to make it not just believable but highly engrossing. Ask yourself how does a gang of apes, super intelligent or not rise up to take on a nuclear powered human race? This movie will answer it in a fashion that will satisfy the intelligent film goers who want more from their film experience.
Rupert Wyatt has taken one of the greatest sci-fi movies of all time and made it his own by making it a story about human drama and the lengths the human spirit will go to save another. Tied into this story is the parallel story of a young ape named Ceaser who by no fault of his own is born into a role that will see him turn against his adoptive human father, research scientist Will Rodman and lead the Rise of the Planet of The Apes.
Rupert Wyatt has done for Planet of the Apes what Zach Snyder did for Dawn of the Dead. He pays ample respect for the original film with his subtle references to the original interlaced throughout but works hard to make the film his own. Rupert Wyatt pays tribute to the original with little snippets of dialogue and visual references tieing to the original while while giving us something new and unique that we as fans can all respect.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the quintessential example of how a remake can be done right and is a faether in the cap of Rupert Wyatt. With the combination of a talented director, an outstanding script and a talented cast it becomes less about the quick cash grab about making a movie that refreshes a classic film for a new generation. I give Rise of the Planet of the Apes an 8 out of 10 easily one of the best remakes I have seen in awhile. I look forward to the inevitable sequel and seeing the actual War of the Apes unfold and I hope that the studios tap a talented unknown to direct. Toby Wilkins who directed Splinter would be a great choice, or even Alex Ferrari the most unrecognized up and coming talent in Hollywood.