Rise of the Planet of the ApesRise of the Planet of the Apes released in theaters on August 5, 2011 but I did not see this movie on opening weekend. I did not see it in the weeks following opening weekend when the crowds would be thinner and it would be easier to secure the best seat in the theater. I didn’t even rush to see it once it finally came out on DVD. So why did I finally take the time to watch this movie late last night on Christmas Eve? Because I was sitting on the couch watching my wife wrap presents and I was bored. Why wasn’t I wrapping presents? Trust me, no one wants me to wrap presents. It isn’t a pretty sight.

Honestly though that isn’t the reason I waited so long to watch this movie. I love the original Planet of the Apes and I am amused by the sequels. One would think I would be excited about another movie in the franchise but the wind was taken out of those sails back in 2001 when Tim Burton gave us his vision of Planet of the Apes starring Mark Wahlberg. The movie was okay but it seemed like Burton was paying more attention to the myriad sequels rather than the original which is the heart of the franchise. Burton’s movie just felt… wrong. Not to mention the ending of the movie was such a discombobulated mess of the story it ruined much of what the movie had to offer. This movie was just one more addition to the horde of horrid science fiction remakes, prequels and sequels which have plagued audiences for the last couple decades. So when Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring James Franco came out this year let’s just say I was less than excited to see it.

Unfortunately, now I am forced to concede that I rather enjoyed Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Actually I would go as far as to say that I am very, very happy with the results. Without delving into the political undertones of the original Rise of the Planet of the Apes seems to make its own statements about corporate control of the masses and tell an interesting and even touching story about how our world became the world we know from the original Planet of the Apes movie.

James Franco plays Will Rodman a scientist who is searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease which crippled his father, played by John Lithgow. Experimental viruses plus chimpanzees equal the perfect recipe for apes who are as smart if not smarter than the humans around it. A stronger strain of the virus is introduced which not only elevates the mental capabilities of the apes it brings about the downfall of mankind. It is the perfect concept for a science fiction film but a concept does not always make a film great. The heart of this film centers on the relationship between Will and his father as well as the relationship Will develops with Casesar who he sees as his son. Surrounding Will’s relationship with his father and his son are these artificial constructs which prevent Will from protecting and helping the ones he loves. Standing outside these constructs is nothing less than freedom from everything that modern civilization represents.

The movie is thought provoking, entertaining and all in all an excellent addition to the Planet of the Apes franchise. Next to the original this is the best movie in the entire series.