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Rise of the Planet of the Apes entertains 

CGI issues but lots of simian fun and an action-packed conclusion

Your complete appreciation of the entertaining new Planet of the Apes prequel could hinge on your comfort with CGI in close-up. I was never sold on the motion-capture rendering of actor Andy Serkis as the primary primate, Caesar. Roddy McDowell in a rubber mask from 43 years ago---or even Tim Roth in Tim Burton's Ape reboot---is still more engaging than this cold-eyed, if emotive, animation. That said, the San Francisco-set Rise---about an ambitious scientist (the indefatigable James Franco) whose experiments on chimps to cure Alzheimer's disease go awry---has enough pulpy storytelling juice to keep you distracted, with a spectacular final act simian-rampage payoff. And that's done in medium and wide shots, where the computer-generated super-intelligent apes totally convince (especially the gorillas, wow). If a prequel sequel ever gets made, more mayhem of that sort, please.


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Vol 24, No 34
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