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'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' brings things back to this world [Trailer]

June 2, 2011 |  8:05 pm

Pierre Boulle's apes have made numerous appearances on the big screen over the years, starting when Charlton Heston crash-landed on what seemed to be a distant planet and continuing with Tim Burton taking Mark Wahlberg to a faraway planet in the year 3002.

But the property has rarely forsaken the interstellar future in favor of the Earthly present ("Escape from the Planet of the Apes" did do some of it via time travel). Rupert Wyatt's origin story "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," whose theatrical trailer hit the Web today ahead of its Aug. 5 release, offers its take on how the apes came to emulate and surpass humans, and right here on Earth.

The trailer for the James Franco film starts out like a standard-issue medical thriller -- scientist tinkers with monkeys, leading to disastrous consequences ("You're trying to control things that aren't meant to be controlled!") -- before turning into a man vs. beast story with with echoes of "Avatar," "Battle: Los Angeles" and other tales of the apocalypse. "Evolution becomes revolution," the tag summarizes.

One of big questions that's captivated the blogosphere since the film went into production is how the simulated apes -- for the first time depicted using special effects, not actors in makeup -- will appear in the film. They seem convincing enough here. But maybe more interesting is whether the prequel can avoid the sameness of a thousand other disaster movies  and instead distinguish itself with the racial and social subtexts that have permeated the best moments of the franchise. To answer that, though, you kind of need the full movie.

--Steven Zeitchik



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