As the title suggests, this is the much-anticipated prequel to the classic Planet of the Apes films. It stars James Franco as the scientist with questionable ethics, Freida Pinto as the girlfriend of the scientist with questionable ethics, John Lithgow as father of the scientist with questionable ethics, and the motion-captured movements of non-human actor Andy Serkis.
James Franco's character works at a San Francisco lab called “Gen Sys”, which quickly becomes apparent has incredibly lax security and non-existent ethical approval mechanisms. In a race against time to find a treatment for Alzheimers for his father (and to make the head of Gen Sys, played by David Oyelowo, a lot of money), he trials a new drug on chimpanzees which seems to increase cognitive function considerably.
After a slight boardroom mishap involving an escaped chimp going nuts at the exactly the moment the board are considering if the drug is safe, the research is halted and all the apes are ordered to be destroyed. The super-intelligent offspring of one such doomed chimp, Caesar (Serkis), is spared after being smuggled out of the lab by James Franco, who proceeds to raise him for a number of years.
Following several months in a primate “sanctuary” after biting off the neighbours finger, Caesar ultimately escapes, stealing some of the drug that Franco also smuggled out of the lab. The brainiac chimp then returns to the sanctuary to use the drug on the other apes. His band of super-intelligent apes escape, in a PETA-esque rampage through the lab, and head for the Golden Gate bridge.
Oyelowo secures a helicopter and heads to the bridge to take out Caesar. After machine-gunning down a few apes, it looks like Oyelowo is about to succeed. But as they move in for the kill, an enormous Gorilla bravely puts himself on the line, taking a round of bullets before diving up into the helicopter – which is now flying at a foolishly low altitude. The helicopter loses control before spinning into the edge of the bridge, resulting in a partial explosion with several pieces of helicopter strewn on the road. Another ape kicks the charred remains of the helicopter off the bridge and into San Francisco Bay.
The explosion was not huge, but this is perhaps reflective of the small altitude/speed to ground ratio. The bridge would almost certainly need repainting in the area around the explosion though.
Exploding helicopter innovation
First helicopter explosion caused by a motion-captured super-intelligent Gorilla.
Do the passengers survive?
Oyelowo is certainly still alive and potentially savable post-explosion. His hopes of survival (and those of the remaining passengers) are quickly dashed by one of Oyelowo's apes from the lab, who carefully considers the situation before kicking the helicopter to its watery doom.
Gorilla vs Helicopter is a match-up film-goers have been crying out for.
When Sarah Palin shoots wolves from a helicopter in Alaska, it's unlikely that even she is stupid enough to shoot from an altitude that a vengeful wolf could jump up to. The same cannot be said of Oyelowo and his pilot.
Favourite quote not in the film
Helicopter pilot: “Get your stinking paws off my helicopter, you damned dirty ape”
At the time of the apes' escape, news coverage is focusing on the launch of a manned flight to Mars. As the film is supposed to be set in the present day, this appears to have been set in an alternate universe where NASA has not recently had its funding cut.
Review by: Joseph Clift