Rise of the Planet of the Apes ★★★★½

Awesome rewatch prepping for "Dawn." I loved this movie in the theater and this rewatch really pushed me to bump this from a 4 to a 4.5 rating. I love the three distinct acts to "Rise." We begin with a science-centric, super-hero origin~esque story of young Caesar's inception. In this first act we explore the relationship built between two well-realized characters in James Franco and Caesar the ape, and the unique circumstances in which they exist. It never drags and weirdly for a 'relationship drama' is very satisfying.

Transition to a completely different second act, which is essentially a prison-movie with apes. Love the new human characters introduced here, as well as Caesar's interactions with the different inmates at the chimp prison. While many blockbusters have a weak second act, RotPotA excels.

Finally, we move into the true "Rise"~centric third act, where the apes are out and hell starts breaking loose. Here we get the first true action set pieces of the movie and they are memorable. Being this far removed from the theatrical release, the sting of 'having seen everything in the previews' is removed, and the contrast of this third act to the first two can be fully enjoyed. We get all kinds of simians in various situations: taking out police cars, brandishing weapons and surrounding scientists, swarming the Golden Gate and more.

That last act also ties into a great epilogue with seeds that have been planted throughout the movie: the rise of the intelligent apes occurs in parallel to a devastating virus to mankind, and suddenly makes the unbelievable world seen way back in the 1968 original plausible. It's an ingenious bit of screenwriting, and makes me grateful that this entry did so well that we've already got a sequel (which I still can't wait to see), and seemingly are at least assured of a third entry.

Who would've though a prequel to Planet of the Apes could be so great? An awesome, intelligent summer blockbuster and I'm thankful it earned as much as it did to spawn a sequel.