Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Full review: Ten years after Tim Burton's disasterous entry into the long-running franchise, director Rupert Wyatt brings us the latest "Planet of the Apes" installment, and much to our surprise, he not only manages to pull it off, but he delivers arguably the best and most entertaining of all "Apes" films released since 1968. Story-wise, "Rise of the Apes" doesn't really break any new grounds, and its plot feels a bit familiar here and there, however the lack of true originality is compensated by the smartly-written script, the fantastic cast, and the absolutely slick and spot-on execution. Moreover, the movie's perfectly smooth pacing and 'evolutionating' plot development draw us more and more into the story as the movie progresses. Some minor faults aside, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is as visually-breathtaking, as it's absorbing. Rupert Wyatt does such an incredible job behind the camera, it's really hard to believe that this is just his second full-length film. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is so skilfully-shot and creatively-composed, it feels more like Wyatt has a huge directing career behind his back. He provides us with tons of fluid, yet dynamic camera movements, plenty of inventive angles and lots of diversity, and the end result is nothing short of spectacular. The settings are excellent, both indoor and outdoor, but it's the visual effects that make the biggest impression. All of the apes shown in the movie are stunningly-designed, deeply-detailed, incredibly realisitc and crafted to perfection. Although the action comes a bit late in the film, it's striking, brilliantly-staged and worth every second of waiting. Apart from Rupert Wyatt's amazingly stylish direction, and the absulutely first-rate special effects, the most impressive thing about the latest "Apes" movie is Andy Serkis' sensational performance as Ceaser. He brings the ape to life in a very believable and natural way, and he turns in one of the most memorable non-human performances in history of cinema. James Franco grew so much as an actor over the past couple of years, it's really fascinating. Last year he blew us away in Danny Boyle's "127 Hours", and now he delivers another strong, mature and convincing performance as the tough, yet sensitive young scientist, Will Rodman. The beautiful Freida Pinto know for her role in another Boyle film, "Slumdog Millionaire" gives a solid supporting performance as Will's love interest, Caroline. John Lithgow also delivers in his formidable role as the nutty, yet sympathetic father who suffers from Alzheimer's disease.
Overall summary: Featuring innovative direction, clever writing, brilliant performances and some of the most polished CGI effects ever put on film, and filled with action-packed thrills and electrifying moments, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is the best, most gripping and visually-striking movie of the summer so far, along with "X-Men: First Class".