It was a fun Drive In experience to be sure.
Generally I enjoyed the movie. The CGI was "almost there" in terms of realism. Great detail to the apes and considering how artificial the FX process was for the movie, what they managed to do is pretty astounding. I kept wondering what someone from 1968 (original POTA time period) would think if you showed this movie to him. The apes are so close to photo-realistic, yet are doing things that an ape couldn't do, or even a human in a costume. I bet it would be a real brain-teaser.
That said, some of the motion was off, especially in some rapid motion where the chimps started to move like video game characters. But the FX worked well often enough to keep me in the movie and absorbed.
I found that I had to struggle with the usual issues with any modern sci-fi-oriented film:
My brain is always doing a background moan about how much better it could have been if X, Y, Z..."
As a sci-fi fan I'm so hungry for adult, intelligent science fiction - it's a genre that is so ripe for a thoughtful approach - and to see all the dumbed down, common denominator strokes that are injected into every sci-fi movie is always disheartening, with this movie being no different. At times it just sped like it was made for an audience made entirely of ADD sufferers. Although, mercifully, it did finally slow down to let me sink into some scenes in the middle.
As critics have already pointed out, the humans were essentially ciphers. Just narrative cogs going through the motions.
One question for me going in was "Just how much is James Franco going to ruin this movie for me?"
Well, in a way the fact his character was a back seat to the ape Caesar lessened the pain. But casting a too-young-looking, slurring, dozy Franco as a brilliant scientist is just ridiculous. It's la-la-land casting for no other reason than - either the director/producers were in the middle of an epileptic fit when they said yes to the notion - or more obviously it was made on demographics.
But how I yearn for someone to cast a scientist with an actor that actually displays some maturity and intellectual authority...hence believability.
David Oyelowo gave us a one-note version of the well-worn villain company man. This character is so played-out it's like you could just fast forward any scene he's in, knowing exactly what that character is going to say and do.
And I for one am NEVER convinced by excuses for this type of laziness that reduce to "It's just a popcorn adventure movie, what do you expect?" The best movies, scripts and actors are those that manage to bring some nuance or creativity, even to points that may be starting with cliches. Lame results don't get this pass from me.
All that said, I really appreciated that both the script and the acting and execution of the apes portion of the movie were done with such conviction. It really came through and gave an underlying strength to the proceedings. Essentially, I found I cared to the extent the film-makers cared during the movies. The film-makers didn't seem to care about the human characters, given the laziness on display, which left me uncaring. But
they did clearly care about the Caesar story, hence that got me on board.
Ultimately, I would recommend this flick. When it was good, it was really good, and perhaps unique in some places.