“Caesar shows cognitive skills that far exceed that of a human counterpart. The drug in his system has radically boosted healthy brain functions.”
– Will Rodman
Dr William “Will” Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist working on finding a way to cure Alzheimer’s, though he is working for his own personal reasons. His brilliant father Charles (John Lithgow) is slipping away from Will more and more, and soon it will be irreversible. Will’s company, Gen-Sys, is testing ALZ-112, a viral-based drug, on chimpanzees. The trial seems to be going very well, but a complication arises. The chimpanzee may be far more intelligent, but she is also far more dangerous, and rampages after getting loose, ultimately being shot down. Robert Franklin (Tyler Labine) realises that Bright Eyes, the chimpanzee that went ballistic, was actually only protecting her baby that they were unaware she had birthed. Begging Will to take the baby home just for a while until he finds an alternative solution, Will is roped into taking the baby home.
At home, he soon learns that it would seem that ALZ-112 that was used on Bright Eyes was genetically passed to her son, whom Charles seems crazy about and immediately names Caesar (Andty Serkis). Caesar displays extraordinary intelligence, and learns things rapidly. Soon Caesar becomes a permanent fixture in their home and a member of their family. The moment that Will learns that the ALZ-112 works, he gives it to his father seeing as his boss Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) shut down their research and refuses to open it up again, especially not for human trials. The ALZ-112 works miracles on Charles, whose brain recovers, his mind is fresh and whole, and father and son are both ecstatic.Caesar, however, is desperate to learn of the outside world, to have friends, and the need for this is exacerbated when Will starts seeing Caroline Aranha (Freida Pinto), a primatologist who is also very close to Caesar after spending much time with the family. The neighbourhood rebels about Caesar living with the Rodmans. Charles’s dementia starts to return, and Will realises that he needs to find a way to make a stronger drug to help his father. He starts his research, honing and perfecting another virus that is better. An unfortunate event in which Charles’s dementia lands him in a spot of trouble has Caesar save him, but gets him locked up in an ape sanctuary, headed up by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his son Dodge (Tom Felton), both cruel and inhumane. Caesar struggles to understand what is happening, and is thrown in with his own kind, who are nothing like him. Caesar will have to find a way to fit in, and is angered to see how the apes are treated, and with his better-than-original cognitive ability, sets out to change the way things are done around the facility. Will, meanwhile, is desperately seeking a way to bring Caesar home.
Will Caesar make a stand at the facility? Will he ever fit in with the other apes? Will Will find an alternate medication to save his father’s mind, or is the battle ultimately lost? Will Will succeed in finding a way to bring Caesar home? Will anyone ever bring the facility to heel about the absolutely despicable way in which they treat the apes?
This was something I was dead set against watching. Hell, my other half damn near strapped me to the couch to force me to watch it, and my entire opinion of the Planet of the Apes franchise was changed… well, not the franchise maybe, but certainly the new direction and reboot. I regret not seeing it in cinema because this is something worth seeing on the big screen, and the years have passed with me getting progressively more excited for the sequel. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the cast, the concept, the CGI, Caesar (that goes without say), and the story. It was well paced, never leaving you confused or wondering what the hell had happened. Seeing how Caesar came to live with Will was great, he was adorable, and it was amazing how much he helped Charles become more stable. The psychology behind Caesar’s intelligence and desire to make new connections and all was also completely believable and understandable. The ties between Will, Charles and Caesar is very sweet, they bond together in the closest for of family. Andy Serkis delivered another grand role in his motion capture forte. Tom Felton seems destined to play the jackass forever more since his stint as Draco Malfoy, and he was really so reprehensible in here. Brian Cox returns once again as a villainous character, also very unlikable. It was terribly sad, getting the testing portrayal from the chimpanzee’s side, and was well crafted. The score worked wonders, too. Caesar being separated from caring family and thrown to the wolves, so to speak, it difficult, but it is fantastic to see the ape grow, to create ties with his own kind, to see his similarities with them as well as where they differ. I really liked the friendship he and Maurice had with one another, it was sweet. This is one of those films that really needs to be seen, it is exceptionally well done, and will draw in just about any viewer.