'Rise of the Planet of the Apes': What Critics Say

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Andy Serkis’ performance is praised, while James Franco’s “struggles.”

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, stars James Franco and Freida Pinto, but, according to reviews, the real stars of the film are the special effects. The motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis, whose previous work includes Lord of the Rings’ Gollum, was praised by most critics.

Written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, and directed by Rupert Wyatt, Rise of the Planet of the Apes will open in theaters on Friday, August 5.

Here’s more on what critics thought of the film:

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy wrote: “Making the most of special effects breakthroughs pioneered on Avatar as well as on the extensive ape performance background of Andy "King Kong" Serkis, Rise closes the door on the makeup-and-hairpiece monkeyshines of the original Apes sequels once and for all.”

“The success of the new film pivots on viewer belief that the genetically advanced primates here possess emotional and cranial capacities similar to those of humans; so completely is this achieved that audiences will be cheering for these sensitive creatures as they take revenge on their tormentors by launching an unusually ambitious animal-liberation movement,” added McCarthy.

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The AP’s Chrisy Lemire  calls the film “a spectacle,” and writes, “This seventh film in the Planet of the Apes series rises to such ridiculous heights, it's impossible not to laugh out loud — in a good way, in appreciation. There's big, event-movie fun to be had here, amped up by some impressive special effects and typically immersive performance-capture work by Andy Serkis.”

Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly calls Rise “halfhearted and “digitally impersonal.” “The movie is zippier than Tim Burton's oddly lifeless 2001 Planet of the Apes remake, but unlike good sci-fi, it doesn't signify anything, or really even try to — it's just an apes-on-the-rampage creature feature,” he writes.

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“Caesar, to begin with, is a wonderfully executed character, a product of special effects and a motion-capture performance by Andy Serkis,” wrote Roger Ebert in the Chicago-Sun Times. “One never knows exactly where the human ends and the effects begin, but Serkis and/or Caesar gives the best performance in the movie.”

Ebert also wrote: “James Franco struggles with an underwritten role that shies away from philosophical and ethical questions and limits itself to plot points in basic English.”