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MAN learns a harsh les­son about med­dling with Mother Na­ture in Ru­pert Wy­att’s splen­did new chap­ter in the Planet Of The Apes saga, based loosely on the novel by Pierre Boulle. Draw­ing el­e­ments from dif­fer­ent films in the orig­i­nal se­ries made fa­mous by Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Charlton He­ston, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes takes ad­van­tage of the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal wiz­ardry to de­liver a thrilling ac­tion ad­ven­ture that doesn’t skimp on heart­break­ing emo­tion. It’s all a far cry from Tim Bur­ton’s abortive 2001 re­make of the orig­i­nal film – a cre­atively am­bi­tious but struc­turally mud­dled folly doomed to fail­ure the mo­ment Mark Wahlberg was cast in the lead role. Wy­att or­ches­trates some breath­tak­ing set pieces, in­clud­ing a cli­mac­tic scene of apes on the ram­page in San Fran­cisco that un­folds at dizzy­ing speed, seam­lessly meld­ing dig­i­tal and live ac­tion el­e­ments. How­ever, be­neath all of the py­rotech­nics, there beats a hu­man heart, not least in the char­ac­ter of Cae­sar the ape, brought ma­jes­ti­cally to life by ac­tor Andy Serkis us­ing the same mo­tion cap­ture tech­nol­ogy as Gol­lum in The Lord Of The Rings. Sci­en­tist Will Rod­man (Franco) is de­ter­mined to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, the disease which has slowly con­sumed his fa­ther Charles (Lith­gow). Will feels cer­tain he is close to a break­through and tests his lat­est serum on chim­panzees, notic­ing dra­matic in­creases in in­tel­li­gence and brain ac­tiv­ity in the pri­mate sub­jects.

How­ever, a high-pro­file show­case with share­hold­ers goes spec­tac­u­larly wrong and Will’s profit-driven boss Steven Jacobs (Oyelowo) de­mands the pro­ject is shut down and the test an­i­mals slaugh­tered. Will smug­gles a baby chimp called Cae­sar out of the lab and raises the in­fant with his fa­ther. As the years pass and Cae­sar blos­soms, Will falls in love with ve­teri­nar­ian Caro­line Aranha (Pinto) who is stunned by Will’s abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with the chim­panzee, un­aware of the an­i­mal’s his­tory. Caro­line warns Will that he can­not keep Cae­sar as a pet for­ever and med­dling with na­ture has reper­cus­sions. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes mar­ries present and past, gift­ing the most iconic line (“Get your filthy paws off me you damn dirty

ape!”) to Tom Fel­ton, play­ing a sadis­tic keeper at the ape sanc­tu­ary where Cae­sar spear­heads the up­ris­ing. Scenes be­tween Franco and Lith­gow are beau­ti­fully judged and the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween the two men and the dig­i­tally-ren­dered Cae­sar is sur­pris­ingly mov­ing. Pinto’s un­der­writ­ten role acts as the voice of rea­son through­out, though her warn­ings are never heeded. A coda in­volv­ing Will’s next door neigh­bour suc­cinctly lays the ground­work for sub­se­quent films.

WARN­ING VOICE: Frieda Pinto plays vet Caro­line Aranha. IN­TEL­LI­GENT: One of the apes in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

RE­SEARCH: James Franco plays sci­en­tist Will Rod­man.

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