Movies releasing today: Time to monkey around

Hands down my pick of this weekend's new movie releases in South Africa is Rise of the Planet of the Apes. According to multiple accounts, for the second time this year 20th Century Fox has actually produced a franchise reboot/origin tale (the first being X-Men: First Class) that actually delivers the entertainment goods while demonstrating a surprising amount of intelligence.

This latest entry in the decades-old Planet of the Apes franchise seems to be, at its core, a cautionary tale about science in a similar vein to this heartbreaking true-life tale. Set in our contemporary reality, James Franco 's experimental Alzheimer's research gifts chimpanzee Caesar - portrayed by Andy (Gollum, King Kong) Serkis using motion-capture technology - with human-like intelligence. Mistreated by people, and stranded between the world of Man and Ape, frustrated Caesar seeks revenge.

My interest in Rise of the Planet of the Apes has been piqued since the release of this emotion-led trailer (read my initial thoughts on th film here as well). The movie is currently 82% Fresh on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, where it's been called exciting, visually stunning and well-crafted. Serkis has also received a hefty portion of praise for his credible and touching performance, proving yet again he's our first CGI-superstar. Rise isn't without its detractors though. For some the the plot is spotty, the human cast dull and film never explores its raised socio-psychological themes with the depth required.

If CGI-chimps and gorillas aren't your idea of a good time, then you probably also want to stay far away from juvenile talking animals comedy Zookeeper, which stars Kevin (Mall Cop) James and is a dire 12% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Musical fans, meanwhile, may want to check out Glee: the 3D Concert Movie, (100% Fresh), and lovers of highbrow and indie film festival fare can choose between Terrence Malick's latest - existentialist family drama The Tree of Life (85% Fresh), starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn - and Welcome to the Rileys (53% Fresh), which sees Kristen Stewart's teen stripper forming a bond with James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo, a couple struggling to cope with their daughter's death.


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