Slightly more of a mouthful than its 60s/70s precursor franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the first of three films which comes together as a revival, or rather a reimagining, of the older films. Set in the modern day in San Francisco, the film stars James Franco as Will Rodman – a scientist working with the Gen-sys corporation on a drug which they believe to be a potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease – while elsewhere John Lithgow, Tom Felton and Andy Serkis (motion-capture) all feature.
The film begins with its focus on Will Rodman, a researcher conducting drug trials on chimpanzee at the Gen-sys headquarters in San Francisco. Despite some promising initial reactions, the drug yields some unforeseen side-effect, massively boosting the chimps’ intelligence but also making them behave aggressively. After discovering that the reason their test chimp, Bright eyes, had become hostile was that she was harbouring a child, Rodman elects to raise the young chimp – who he later names Caesar.
However, after Rodman’s colleagues develop a gaseous form of the original drug – which heightens the apes’ intelligence even further – a group of already enhanced chimps, spearheaded by Caesar steal a shipment. Sick of the abuse they suffer at the hands of humans, the apes expose themselves to the drug and as tensions are forced to breaking point, a hulking army of primates, with the young Caesar at its head, begins to rise.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes – Friday 6:55pm on Film 4.