Another Apes movie!! Another freakin' Apes movie?!
Which reflex response you have to Rise of the Planet of the Apes, opening Friday, probably depends on your love—or not—of what surely is Hollywood's most out-there franchise.
If you're on the fence about the latest, James Franco-led entry, here's some info to help you make up your puny human mind:
1. You Don't Have to Know a Thing About All the Other Apes Movies: Rise is billed as an "origin story," i.e., it tells you all you need to know about how apes started calling the shots. So don't worry if the quote, "You maniacs! You blew it up!" doesn't ring any bells.
2. In Fact, It Might Be Helpful If You Didn't Know a Thing About All the Other Apes Movies: See, Rise takes place today, thereby screwing with the timeline established in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which told audiences all they needed to know about how apes started calling the shots in the 1990s. Rise and Conquest also differ on how the empowerment came about: In Rise, it's all Franco's fault—his drug called "the cure" makes primate Caesar very, very smart and possessed of superb organizational skills; in Conquest, Caesar is born that way—he's the offspring of PhD-accomplished chimpanzees Cornelius (Roddy McDowell) and Zira (Kim Hunter) from the 1970s Apes movies. For the record, Rise director Rupert Wyatt considers his film a prequel to the original Planet of the Apes, rather than a reimagining of Conquest.
3. It's the Apes' Show: Sure, Franco gets top billing, but Rise's motion-capture army of animals, led by Lord of the Rings alum Andy Serkis, gets all the big moments. It's not for nothing the movie was originally supposed to be called Caesar: Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
4. No, Wait, It's Serkis' Show: The actor, who puts the emotion in motion capture, has been compared to the brilliant Charlie Chaplin by his director, and is being talked up for an Oscar for his turn as Caesar.
5. All Is Forgiven, Mark Wahlberg: It's been 10 summers since Wahlberg and director Tim Burton tried, but failed to revive the franchise with their version of Planet of the Apes. But there's no sense in griping still about their ending. The franchise finally is back, and maybe for a while. Rise's box office is expected to be strong, and early reviews, from the likes of the New York Times, Roger Ebert and the Hollywood Reporter are good. Maybe even much better than you'd expect from another freakin' Apes movie.