This is the second reboot of the Planet of the Apes film series, and is essentially a retelling of the story of Caesar from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (the fourth movie in the original series).
Forget about time-traveling apes. In this version, Caesar's mother dies in a lab mishap, and the newborn chimpanzee Caesar (Andy Serkis) is secretly adopted by scientist Will Rodman (James Franco), who is desperately seeking the cure for Alzheimer's to save his father (played by John Lithgow).
It turns out that Caesar has the same experimental virus that his mother had been injected with. The drug, a possible cure for Alzheimer's, not only repairs the brain… it improves the brain!
What will become of intelligent ape Caesar? Can Will cure his father's dementia? Will GenSys, a powerful pharmaceutical corporation, back the drug and save millions of people afflicted with Alzheimer's?
Other notable characters include Caroline (Freida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire) as Will's girlfriend, Dr. Jacobs (David Oyelowo) as Will's boss, and Dodge (Tom Felton of Harry Potter) as an abusive animal handler.
Even though this movie rewrites much of the Planet of the Apes story, there has been a lot of effort to pay homage to the original movie series.
I thought the movie was well conceived, flows well, has plenty of action, and the performances are solid. Special effects now allows the apes to be computer-generated, based on motion-capture technology – no more make-up. To me, it looks animated rather than realistic, but it's amazing nonetheless.
James Franco is young and earnest as the scientist, but never seems particularly smart. John Lithgow is great as always as the afflicted father. Freido Pinto is enchanting as the love interest, but her role is limited. Since Caesar in this version is non-vocal, Andy Serkis has the difficult task of trying to hint at what Caesar is thinking by emoting at the camera. The result is an adult Caesar who seems moody, mysterious, and not very likeable.
I thought the movie was OK, and it obviously sets things up for a sequel. Entertaining if not thought provoking like the original movie.