Even though I listed 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' as a film that I would not be seeing this summer because of its sheer ridiculousness - I ended up seeing it (blame it on convenient timing). Here is what surprised me about the film:
1. It was better than I expected - I wasn't expecting much, so that doesn't really mean anything. I guess I just had such a bad taste in my mouth from the 'Planet of the Apes' remake that I assumed this would be just as bad. However, this prequel had a whole lot of heart, impressive special effects and such an intriguing story that it actually left me wanting more.
2. The apes outshined the humans - Taking the Avatar route, this film uses motion capture to "create" the apes. Andy Serkis portrays the main ape, Caesar, with a heartbreaking emotional resonance that has never been done before. The humans, however, were a complete contrast - completely lifeless, most of them downright evil and cold. It would have been nice to blur the lines between good and evil, but this film decided to go the way of a very clear right and wrong which was ultimately the only problem I had with it (oh and it dragged a little in the middle - I think it could have gotten to the point a bit quicker).
3. It had no voice - The original film was a sociopolitical allegory for racism and equality, while also debating the theory of evolution versus creationism. This film is just a linear tale of the literal rise of the apes that involved a science experiment gone wrong. I am not sure if it was meant to raise questions about the cruelty of animal testing - if that was the goal then they failed. As an animal lover, I am sad to admit that I fully believe in the use of animals for testing because I also believe in survival of the fittest. We will never find cures for anything if we didn't use animal testing as a resource. The film will surely pull at your heart strings but it doesn't really raise any new questions or lend a voice to anti-animal testing. The reasons that things go wrong is because the humans in the film are dumb and make incredibly careless mistakes NOT because they went against "nature".