Alert
Close

Get free help preparing your taxes from AARP Foundation Tax-Aide. Find a location

Highlights

Open

Bob Dylan Talks!
Caucasian couple looking at a laptop computer together

Horoscope

Aries - Horóscopo de AARP

Look at what your future holds if your birthday is between March 21 & April 19

CONTESTS & SWEEPS

AARP Superstar Contest

Help pick AARP’s best singers for a chance to win $5,000.

See Official Rules

Win an ARRP Real Pad Tablet - Tribute to an Ancestor Contest

2015 LIFE@50+ MIAMI

Renew for 3 and attend Life at 50+ for free

Most Popular

Viewed

New Planet of the Apes: Monkey Biz

Rupert Wyatt's prequel, starring James Franco, showcases action over nuance

So while the film quickly sets up Rodman’s human motivations for developing the drug — his father’s dementia — his subsequent actions and reactions don’t add up. The drug restores his father’s brain processes overnight — yet Rodman doesn’t tell anyone (nor does anyone in the outside world notice that the guy who used to wander around the neighborhood aimlessly is suddenly a laser-focused genius). And three years or so later, when the drug begins to lose effectiveness, Rodman curses it as a failure. He totally ignores the fact that he has managed to push back one of the great scourges of old age — but of course, from a scriptwriter’s perspective he needs to feel that way in order for the plot to push on to the next level.

Likewise, Caesar is fine with being led around on a leash — until he isn’t, so the ape rebellion can begin in earnest.

Logistics don’t seem of major concern to the filmmakers, either. Caesar, confined to a weird kind of primate prison — a surreal facility clearly created wholly out of the writers’ imaginations — manages to break out late one night, travel untold miles to Rodman’s home, steal some brain-building serum and scamper unseen all the way back to the jailhouse before dawn. How does he do it? Through the writer’s will. Same thing with the climactic ape attack on the research lab: Hundreds, maybe thousands, of apes band together for the assault. How did the monkey reinforcements, picked up by Caesar and company at a local zoo, suddenly develop Marine-like discipline without the benefit of Rodman’s drug? Uh …

Listen, I know we’re talking about a late-summer sci-fi time-waster here. But Rise of the Planet of the Apes presents a case study of the conundrum of high-budget fantasy filmmaking. The creators have invested millions upon millions of dollars to present a hyper-real world where monkeys can, and do, take over. It’s that very realism — the uncanny human-ness of the chimps, the meticulous marriage of real and computer imagery — that makes us more aware of the writers’ laziness in storytelling, their bread-and-circuses attitude toward their audience.

The original Planet of the Apes — with Rod Serling’s sometimes too-talky script taking scholarly stabs at the notions of class and prejudice — was equally ridiculous in its conception. But we could see that Roddy McDowall and Maurice Evans were behind those rubber monkey masks. The Ape City was clearly a back-lot cutout. The transparently artificial presentation worked: At one level the film was Saturday-afternoon popcorn fodder; at another it was allegory, its presentation as rudimentary as a Greek drama.

In presenting its ape-bound world perfect in every detail, Rise of the Planet of the Apes sets itself a monkey bar so high it could be reached only if it came wrapped in a flawless, meticulously measured script. With its outrageous premise, I suspect no one could have written that— not even a roomful of chimps typing for a thousand years.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

 

Movies for Grownups Radio

Download weekly podcasts of celebrity interviews, entertainment news and more. Listen


Movies for Grownups Awards

AARP honors the films and filmmakers who make the movies we want to see. Read

300_line
100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

100 Must-See Movies for Grownups

By Bill Newcott
E-book
January 2015


A treasure trove of delightfully offbeat recommendations for discerning moviegoers, from the beginnings of film right up the present.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Live Nation

Members save 25% or more when buying tickets in groups of four from Ticketmaster.

Cirque Du Soleil

Members save 15-30% on tickets to live Cirque du Soleil shows with their AARP membership card.

Pepperoni Pizza, Papa Johns Superbowl promotion for AARP members

Members save 25% off regular menu price orders at Papa John's.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.