I guess it was only a matter of time after Tim Burton’s failed remake of Planet of the Apes that another telling of the story would come along. Now we’re getting one in the form of a prequel entitled Rise of the Apes, which obviously tells the story leading up to when the apes take over the world.

We know already that James Franco will star in the lead role as a modern-day scientist who conducts genetic experiments on a chimp he dubs Caesar, in the hopes of developing a cure for Alzheimers.

But who will be joining Franco as part of the cast? Well, we recently learned that offers had been made to both Don Cheadle and Freida Pinto to star in Rise of the Apes. And although we’re still not sure if Cheadle has accepted that offer, we do know that Pinto will be joining the cast along with John Lithgow.

We now know that Pinto will play the female lead in the prequel, a primatologist who presumably works alongside Franco’s character. Lithgow will play Franco’s Alzheimers-stricken father, whom I imagine the scientist is trying to cure.

I’m glad to see Lithgow join the cast; after seeing him as the menacing serial killer Trinity on Showtime’s Dexter, I’m suddenly very interested to see more of him in other projects (although howcan he top Trinity?). Pinto impressed the hell out of everyone, myself included, as Latika in Danny Boyle’s Oscar-sweeping Slumdog Millionaire. If her casting here is anything to go by, she’ll be one to look for in many other Hollywood projects.

John Lithgow in 'Dexter' - Freida Pinto in 'Slumdog Millionaire'

Rise of the Apes was written and will be produced by Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, who reworked the screenplay after the fallout between Scott Frank (previous writer and potential director of the prequel) and Fox Studio officials. Producing alongside Silver and Jaffa are Peter Chernin and Dylan Clark through Chernin Entertainment.

There have been so many Apes movies that I guess another one is due right about now. A lot of people didn’t like Tim Burton’s take on the story, and much like The Incredible Hulk to Ang Lee’s poorly-received Hulk, I think Rise of the Apes will be met with much kinder praise.

Will Rise of the Apes be better than Tim Burton's version of Planet of the Apes?

One thing that might irritate fans of the Apes franchise is the fact that the titular primates will be created using CGI and motion-capture technology (by Peter Jackson’s WETA, no less) as opposed to traditional special effects make-up, prosthetics or animal actors. It’s too early to tell if that will be a good or bad idea for this particular franchise, but an argument could be made that make-up/prosthetics worked for all those other movies (save for Burton’s) so why change everything just to be in tune with the rest of Hollywood’s CGI-laden movies?

Having said that, WETA did do the effects for Jackson’s King Kong so at least they have experience making monkeys look realistic. If nothing else, the effects will be handled by skilled artists.

What do you make of the cast of Rise of the Apes so far? Are you glad or upset that the monkey effects will be done with CGI and “mo-cap” rather than make-up and prosthetics?

Rise of the Apes starts shooting this summer in British Columbia and has a prime summer release date of June 24th, 2011.

Source: Heat Vision Blog