This was an excellent movie-- entertaining, riveting, stimulating, smart-- smarter than some of the past episodes in the series. It has stayed the top selling movie the second weekend it ran.
I have an unusual relationship with the movie. I read the original 1963 novel, by Pierre Boulle and it was the first time I ever said to myself, "this book should be made into a movie." So, when it came out in 1968, I cut class for the first time in my life to see it on the opening day.
This is the first time that the apes in the film are digitally created and that makes a big difference. Actor Andy Serkis does a brilliant job portraying Caesar, the first ape to be infected with the genetically engineered retrovirus that makes apes smarter.
Watching the movie reminded me of Daniel Quinn's book, Ishmael, which has as its main character, a genius ape who gets the reader thinking about man's place on the planet, among all the other creatures.
The movie unfolds Caesar's gradual awakening as an intelligent being. He decides he should ride in the back seat of the station wagon, not the back of it. He starts to put things together to understand his roots, the ways he's not treated right.
He looks around him at the primate facility he's put into and sees chimps, orangutangs, apes, gorillas-- all acting brutishly, screaming and yelling-- kind of like tea partiers. He sees the apes entertained by violence-- by ape on ape or by the human guard, portrayed by Tom Felton, who played evil Malfoy in the Harry Potter series.
Finally, Caesar takes action and wakes up his fellow apes, organizes and leads them to freedom. It takes some script magic to make that happen.