Will Rodman(James Franco) develops a virus to combat Alzheimer's disease. After testing it successfully on chimpanzees, he pitches the virus in a board meeting. So far, the side effect of the virus is the green color found in the eyes of the chimpanzees. But the board meeting is interrupted when a female chimpanzee escapes from the cage, turns violent and finally breaks into the room where the meeting is taking place. The female chimpanzee is killed before the board members who are completely shocked. Now, the board is not willing to go ahead. But Jacobs, Will's boss, reluctantly asks to rework on the virus. As part of the cleanup operation, all except a newly born baby chimpanzee is killed. Will takes the baby secretly to his house where he lives with his father Charles(John Lithgow) who is an Alzheimer patient. Charles christens the chimpanzee as Caesar(Andy Serkis in motion capture).
Three years later, Caesar is like a family member. The effects of the virus was passed to him genetically by his mother giving him green colored eyes and very good cognitive powers. Caesar is able to learn complex things faster. He is very content. But things take a turn for worse. Charles' condition worsens. A desperate Will injects the virus into Charles. The next day, Charles fully recovers. When father-son duo goes out looking for Caesar, they find him being attacked by frightened neighbor. Will takes an injured Caesor to a a veterinarian Caroline Aranha(Frieda Pinto) for treatment. Subsequently Will and Caroline starts dating. On Caroline's request, Will takes Caesar to Muir Woods National Park. Caesar loves this experience.
Five years later, they are all leading a happy life. But the happiness is short-lived. Charles has a relapse of his illness. When Caesar goes out to protect Charles from a bullying neighbor, the police intervenes. Caesar is taken away to a primate facility run by John Landon(Brian Cox) and his son Dodge(Tom Felton). The cruelty he experiences in the facility makes him understand the difference between him and the humans. But an intelligent Caesar is not willing to take it quietly.
Rupert Wyatt directs this entertaining thriller. Serving as a prequel to the series made in the 60s, Rupert explores the initial events which initiated the rule of the apes. In order to tell the audience what might have happened, Rupert uses multiple themes like wronged individual, prejudices, ambitious scientific experiments etc. The end result is a sensitive and gripping tale of Caesar. The movie is fresh because it focuses on Caesar - his innocence, his realization and his freedom. The battle of apes with the humans in the climax is very good. The effects of the action scenes are enhanced with fast moving camera that overtakes the apes while there are on the move. The background score is very effective in enhancing the mood of the movie. CGI is good despite the outdoor shots involving the natural landscapes like Golden Gate bridge and Muir Woods National Park are tricky.
The performances belongs to two entities both of whom do not have appear directly on the screen - Andy Serkins and Weta Digital. Caesar is possible because of these two entities. Andy Serkins whose motion is captured using the technology powered by Weta Digital makes the audience believe Caesar is a real character instead of a digital moving image composited on the film. The various emotions of Caesar - innocence, surprise, hurt, sadness, anger and patience - are effectively captured by Andy and Weta.
Perfect watch for a weekend. Even if you have not seen "The Planet of Apes", you will still enjoy this movie.