I have always been a fan of Charlton Heston, from his work with C. B. DeMille to his playing El Cid to, yes, his playing the sole surviving (mostly intact) astronaut who had the misfortune to land on a version of Earth where humans no longer reigned.
And so, after dealing with issues, again, at my university, I decided to gift myself with a couple of hours of cinematic entertainment...and a large soda, a hot dog, and a Philly cheesesteak sandwhich.
I an generally hesitant to view a movie in the theatre at full ticket price. Hollywood has not found in me a ready and accepting drone for their lowest common denominator entertainment and since I don't do "art for art's sake" films either, I usually wait for DVD releases...after reading up on them first. However, in this case, I had read about Andy Serkis' performance as the human actor behind the CGI character and chose to go ahead and spend out of my very limited budget. Overall, it was a good call.
Andy Serkis and John Lithgow give great performances in their roles, of course Serkis as Caesar is outstanding. Frieda Pinto plays the ubiquitous love interest for James Franco's character, and she, while playing a rather limited, unnecessary, and empty role, does it with flare and natural beauty...her looks are likely the reason she was in the film (not a slight against her acting ability) as the producers probably thought "we need someone worth looking at in this film...let's get the Indian woman from Slumdog Millionaire!" Otherwise, her character provides little for the plot other than to tell the main protagonist that he should be afraid of his chimp "son."
Which brings me to James Franco. I don't know what Hollywood producers, directors, and studio chiefs see in this guy. In every film I have watched with him in it, he has always come across to me as giving a wooden, shallow, and unconvincing performance. My opinion of Mr. Franco, as an actor, was not changed by this film. In virtually every scene where he appears, my preference was for a change of focus. By the end of the film, I was rooting for Caesar and hoping that Mr. Franco's character would be on the receiving end of cosmic justice for giving Caesar over to this man
whose abuse and neglect, we are supposed to believe, are partly responsible for Caesar's violence.
Well, the producers succeeded with one thing, I was all for the apes making good their escape into the wooded hills north of San Francisco. By the climax of the movie, I wanted every human character, except that of Ms. Pinto (who is someone I'd invite over for tea, any day or night of the week), deader than King Tut....and I am happy to report, I nearly got my wish.
In a nutshell, Andy Serkis OWNS this movie. As long as he dons the virtual reality gear upon which Caesar's image is drawn on screen, then I will continue to support this rumored trilogy with my full price ticket purchase. If Mr. Serkis withdraws from the project, for any reason, then I'm going to await a $1 rental from http://www.redbox.com/ and, as far as I am concerned, James Franco's character can die of cancer/being buried alive/car wreck/firing squad/Asian bird flu or suicide by cop before the next movie's first scene.
Now, we need more apes with guns miniatures that are more up to date than what can be seen here http://andrewnz2.tripod.com/id61.html
Movie Grade: 3.0 out of 5.0 packs of miniatures. Had James Franco's character died on screen or had this guy
lived long enough to play in the role, then it would be 4.0 packs of miniatures.