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Review: 'Rise of Apes' is sad, heavier than expected

James Franco is seen in 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes.' (20th Century Fox)

August 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Science and nature collide in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

James Franco plays a scientist out to find a cure for Alzheimer's because his father has the disease. Without giving too much away, Franco's character ends up raising an ape named Caesar, who may be too smart for this own good.

The real trouble begins when a member of his human family is threatened, and the ape gets violent. The altercation results in Caesar being forced to live at an animal sanctuary, where love and kindness are not part of his daily life anymore.

The apes, lead by Caesar, take matters into their own hands, and they mean business.

The computer-generated apes are the real stars of this movie. Caesar gets assistance from the movements of actor Andy Serkis - combined with state-of-the-art technology.

Franco's good, and so is John Lithgow as his father. I don't think Freida Pinto has enough to do here, but she adds a sense of warmth.

The movie is rated PG-13, but it's one of those films, based on the subject matter, that I think could really scare a 10-year-old.

As I took notes during the film, I found myself writing the word "sad" three times, and I threw in a "tragic" to go along with that.

It's much heavier than I expected - fear, anger, animal abuse, death. It's all so sad, but collectively, it does help you better understand why all these animal actions speak louder than words.