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Vol. LXV, No. 32
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
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For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

BEWARE THE LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: The chimpanzee Caesar (Andy Serkis) has been raised by Dr. Will Rodman, who discovered a retrovirus that endows the primates with the intelligence of human beings. As Caesar develops into a mature chimpanzee he becomes frustrated with being treated as an unintelligent being. So he takes matters into his own hands and, with the help of an improved version of the retrovirus, he creates an army of chimpanzees who have a showdown with the humans on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Prequel to Series Pits Intelligent Primates Against Humans

Kam Williams

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the seventh installment in the Fox series which began in 1968 when Charlton Heston played the leading role. This episode stars James Franco as the protagonist of an adventure that explains how the intelligent primates came into existence.

The film unfolds in present-day San Francisco where we find Dr. Will Rodman (Franco) working feverishly on a cure for Alzheimer’s at Gen Sys, a prominent biotech corporation. Besides having an altruistic concern for the general welfare of victims of the disease, the scientist also has a personal stake in the research since his father (John Lithgow) has recently started showing signs of senility.

Dr. Rodman observes some very promising results when he tests a genetically engineered retrovirus he’s developed in the lab. The virus, named ALZ-112, appears to not only repair damaged brain cells, but it even has his favorite chimp, Bright Eyes (Terry Notary), exhibit signs of human intelligence.

Unfortunately, on the very day that Will arranges to announce the exciting news to the company, the chimp escapes from her cage and goes on a destructive rampage. However, when she crashes through a plate glass window into the middle of Will’s meeting, Bright Eyes is shot to death by a security guard.

Gen Sys’s CEO (David Oyelowo) immediately orders Will to euthanize all the other primates that have received doses of ALZ-112. However, with the help of a sympathetic orderly (Tyler Labine), Will surreptitiously saves Bright Eyes’s newborn baby Caesar by sneaking it out of the institution.

Will and his veterinarian girlfriend Caroline (Freida Pinto) undertake to raise Caesar (Andy Serkis) as if he were their child since Caesar apparently has inherited his mother’s intelligence. Although the couple forges a tender bond with the ape, sadly, the same can’t be said for their neighbors and the rest of humanity who cruelly judge the chimp by its appearance instead of by its human-like intelligence.

Eventually Caesar gets fed-up with being treated as an inferior and manages to steal some canisters of Will’s new and improved formula, ALZ-113. The chimp sets about inoculating legions of fellow apes who are in zoos and labs. The resulting army of intelligent primates precipitates a bloody showdown on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for intense violence and frightening images. Running time: 105 minutes. Distributor: 20th Century Fox.

For more movie summaries, see Kam’s Kapsules.

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