Why? My other unseen choices were “The Smurfs” or “Spy Kids”; hence a desire to fulfill my weekly quota; desperation led me into the world man and mammals. Actually they are one and the same and the film leaves the unanswered question of how much they differ.
The 1968 version starring Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter, was a block buster. The plot revolving around astronauts crash-landing on a planet in the year 3978; apes are the dominant species, humans are mute, vacant-eyed, wearing animal skins, devoid of Armani tailoring.
2011, the apes are fodder for medical experimentation; a cure for the insidious Alzheimer’s disease. James Franco is “Will” a scientist with a vested mission in accomplishing this goal; his father, (poignantly portrayed by John Lithgow) is succumbing to its lethal jaws.
Disaster strikes, the project is shelved, apes permanently sedated but Will is saddled with baby “Caesar” and raises him; a bright, feisty pet whose intelligence exceeds all parameters. Caesar is the reason to see the film; his anthropomorphic attributes exacerbate with age. He is sensitive, protective, loving and compellingly charismatic; he weaves his magnetic charms around his caregivers and in tandem, the viewer. You root for, relate to, and empathize with Caesar; one of the more endearing characters in today’s world of film .
The major reason to experience this movie, not just the wizardly sophistication of digitalization or advanced technology but the unsolved mystery of the lacuna differentiating man and ape. Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in “Descent of Man” searches for the direct lineage of man and ape; their parallels are remarkable; always unique to man is the “intellect”; taking four million years to develop, its inimitable, intangible trait gives “man” superiority, mastery over other mammals. Contemporary scientific studies are narrowing the boundaries between these extraordinary species and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” ( 50 years after the hubris depicted in “Inherit the Wind”) evokes the possibility, the legitimacy of the eventual diminishment of man’s supremacy, eminence over alternate life forms.