An intimate dinner table scene in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” foreshadows how the balance of power between humans and simians is about to change, when an exceptional young chimp named Caesar (Andy Serkis) reminds an aging Alzheimer’s patient named Charles (John Lithgow) how to use a fork.
“It’s an extraordinary moment when a chimp is teaching a human being how to do something basic,” said Lithgow. “There is this tenderness where Caesar is more capable than the old man. And there is a grain of plausibility there.”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which opens Friday, is a prequel to the storied science fiction franchise launched in 1968 about a world where hyper-intelligent apes rule over wordless human slaves. In the new film, a scientist named Will (James Franco) is seeking a cure for the Alzheimer’s disease that is incapacitating his father (Lithgow). While experimenting on apes, Will inadvertently creates a brilliant baby chimp.
“I’ve never watched a ‘Planet of the Apes’ film start to finish,” Lithgow said. “But this script genuinely moved me, it really surprised me. Science fiction works best when it’s fact-based, when it’s got some sort of emotional authenticity. What happens if a drug is created that can jump start a primate brain? It’s a fascinating premise, and it sets in motion this emotional story of our mutual relationship with this ape. You just don’t expect to be touched like this by an ‘Apes’ movie.”
— Rebecca Keegan
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