RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, tense familial material, thematic elements): Whether you enjoy this laughably ridiculous chimp-meets-scientist, etc., plot - whether or not you're able to put aside logic & common sense and just have fun watching - depends a lot on how much poetic license you're capable of swallowing during the 105-minutes of sci-fi nonsense sold as solid, good old-fashioned melodrama. (Or were the producers very cleverly pulling our collective legs? You decide.)
A genetic engineer (James Franco as Will Rodman) invents a serum that gives apes the power to think and act as humans. If it works on apes, it just might work on people suffering with Alzheimer's, including Will's father (John Lithgow) who is a former musician now in advanced stages of the disease. It does work on his father, and it works on a test chimp (Caesar, played by Andy Serkis (Gollum in "Lord of the Flies"). OK, fine so far - until, that is, we learn that the drug wears out after a certain period of time and when breathed accidentally it kills.
But meanwhile, we've got other complications. Will's boss is interested purely for the money, has little sympathy for the lab full of apes of all varieties which he keeps in captivity for additional experimentation.
And meanwhile, there's honest, animal-loving Will, who constantly gets into trouble for continuing with his humane experiments.
And still meanwhile, Caesar can't take the inhumane treatment from employees at a facility for displaced apes (!) any longer, recognizes that if one ape is helpless, a whole band of apes working together
And so they do; they break out of the facility, spend a good hunk of the time battling humans from atop the - no kidding - Golden Gate bridge, now smothered in heavy fog. They also get a chance after the battle to traipse in heavenly bliss among the giants of a nearby redwood forest - free at last - while Will and his girlfriend (Freida Pinto, who hangs around to look gorgeously sympathetic) live happily ever after. But do they?
I'm not making this up, nor am I including the fact that Caesar wears pants even when he's romping among the redwoods, or the jerky scene leaps from one truncated episode to another, or the suggestion of a homophilic (not homoerotic) relationship of Caesar with Will (which follows the traditional love-hate-love pattern), or the grossly 2-dimensional good guys, bad guys concept (as well as good apes & bad apes), or the Disney-like anthropomorphist expressions of the apes (you know, the kind that engenders oohs & ahhs, so cute) or the heavy-handed music that mickey-mouses every action in case we miss something as deadly serious, dangerous, funny, or whatever.
On the other hand, it must be admitted that the CGI effects (mainly overlaying actors with downright realistic critter surfaces and the impressive action on the bridge in and out of the fog), the cast - if not entirely inspired - is at least adequate, and the fact that the producers thankfully decided not to shoot in 3D.
Grade: It's a throwback to the old fashioned dramatic techniques with some awesome CGI effects during the second half of the film - an odd mix, but it seems to work. (Grade: B)