9. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Stars: James Franco, Freida Pinto, Andy Serkis, Tom Felton, Brain Cox, John Lithgow

Can you blame unsuspecting critics and audiences for entering Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes with lowered expectations? Not only is director Rupert Wyatt’s flick a seemingly unnecessary reboot of a franchise previously sullied by an awful remake (Tim Burton’s 2001 misfire Planet Of The Apes), but it also stars an obviously paycheck-grabbing James Franco as a, get this, biotechnology scientist. So, yes, we, like many others, walked into the theater anticipating unintentional comedy and two wasted hours of our time. But fuck were we wrong.

Granted, Franco’s performance is dull (it’s as if he didn’t realize that his paycheck gig was actually, you know, a good movie), and the humans in Wyatt’s blockbuster are largely non-factors. Yet, that’s all inconsequential when you’ve got some of the year’s most awe-inspiring visual effects and Caesar, the film’s central primate rendered with tremendous and tangible emotion by Andy Serkis. With Serkis’ remarkable Caesar at its core, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (skillfully conceived by screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver) proves that summer bank-breakers can both wow visually and impact emotionally.