The revolution will be televised. The first trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes arrives like a harbinger of the apocalypse. It begins with the traditional science experiment gone wrong setup, with a wonder drug that has limitless possibilities being given to a test group, In this case, apes. The miracle elixir has some amazing but unforeseen side effects which unleash an apocalyptic scenario turning the theory of evolution on its head. In their efforts to cure one of the most debilitating ailments imaginable, science has provided those just below us on the evolutionary ladder with a powerful weapon of mass destruction.
The story's progression shown in this trailer is what is most unsettling. It begins with a device right out of a Marvel comic. We get a scene where an ape is being administered the miracle drug, and then immediately holds his hand out for another hit. It’s humorous, telling, and creepy. It then builds steadily from there, and the urgency level rises. The hint that the apes are showing signs of higher intelligence seems awe inspiring at first. That is, until we get a glimpse of an ape picking the lock of his cage. Then, the tone becomes downright scary.
A series of quietly frightening images is paraded before us. In one moment, an ape gazes on a couple peacefully asleep in their beds. In another, an ape is looking through the window in way that suggests he is seeing the world through different eyes. We then see the first horrifying phases of the ape revolt, which culminates in a somewhat overdone image of an airborne ape attacking a chopper. As over the top as it is, it does not undermine or negate the uneasy feeling one is left with. The biggest question mark is James Franco. Though 127 hours showed him to be more than capable of carrying a serious film, it’s hard to picture him as a man of science.
There was always an understated eeriness to the original Planet of the Apes and even Beneath the Planet of the Apes. That has always intrigued me, as the films were neither mean spirited nor extreme. What sticks out most to me was a screen test that showed a half human half ape child. The idea was scrapped since 20th Century Fox was reluctant to introduce bestiality into something marketed to general audiences. I found it frightening in how it alluded to something much darker lurking just beneath the surface of a sci-fi/adventure tale. Rise of the Planet of the Apes seems to be directly channeling the id of the franchise. I really hope that it takes the more horrifying angle that this trailer suggests. That would really be something.