A medical researcher working on a drug to help the brain repair itself finds himself raising a super smart chimp called Caesar from infancy . Although the researcher has the best of intentions events conspire to take Caesar from his home and Caesar must learn some hard truths about humans.
Nobody really needed a prequel to Planet of the Apes but if one had to be made then at least they put some effort into it. The story is well told, if a little formulaic for the first half with bland stock character humans (well-intentioned scientist, evil corporate executive, etc) but the apes are fantastically rendered. Caesar is portrayed with vigour and sensitivity that the other characters lack and the film comes alive when it follows him.
The best part of the film occurs about halfway through, where Caesar is locked up with a bunch of other apes and must learn to survive. This sequence, almost entirely without dialogue, is impressively staged. The special effects are likewise excellent throughout.
The main problem with Rise of the Planet of the Apes (apart from the mouthful of the title) is that it starts and ends too early in its story. Although the film tries to inject some pathos with the scientist's family, ultimately all we want is to see some damned, dirty apes. Then once the apes finally get around to rising, the film ends just as things are getting interesting. The original Planet of the Apes could be read as a commentary on race and class, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has its moments but refuses to hammer home any particular point.
Maybe I am asking too much of my ape-related entertainment, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is highly recommended anyway.