After Tim Burton's disastrous 2001 remake, a total reboot of Planet of the Apes was in order. The prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes starts at the very beginning, when a lab chimp injected with a serum to cure Alzheimer's gives birth to Caesar, a super-smart ape raised by scientist James Franco.
As he gets older, Caesar begins to question his life as a “pet.” After a violent outburst, Caesar is caged with other chimps in a hellish animal sanctuary, where he plots a simian revolution. That's the payoff to the buildup, which is occasionally thrilling, sometimes silly, and completely mesmerizing.
Credit Andy Serkis' performance as Caesar – consistently believable, sympathetic, and emotional. He's seriously good, as is parts of the movie, at least when it sticks to the monkey business (Franco's various subplots are snoozers). By the end of this madhouse of a movie, you'll be rooting for the apes. --Michael Gallucci