What if there was a research drug in the laboratory right now that had a good chance of curing Alzheimer’s but it needed more testing on animals before it could be released for human trials? And what if that same neurogenesis drug made its research subjects smarter? That’s the premise of the exciting and surprisingly thoughtful Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Will Rodman (James Franco) is the lead genetic researcher working on the miracle drug for Gen Sys Corporation, but he has a driving motivation of his own: his father (John Lithgow) is rapidly descending into dementia.
One of the challenges of creating a prequel is that you have an end point but typically don’t have a starting point. In this case the starting point was present day America and the end was what Taylor and his crew found when they crash landed on future Earth in Planet of the Apes. Weaving the two together is a tricky business, and it’s done very well in this film, with hints and nods to earlier story elements.