James Franco looks more bored and distracted in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" than he did when he was hosting the Oscars: Watching the movie, I kept waiting for him to pull out his iPhone, aim it at the camera and take a snapshot while mugging sheepishly.
Has there ever been a film with a less engaged protagonist? Claude Rains made more of an impact in 1933's "The Invisible Man," and you couldn't even see him. In "Apes," the vibrant and charismatic Franco, who carried the whole of "127 Hours" practically by himself, has the look of someone fulfilling a contract - the look of someone who realizes what he's gotten into and just wants to get it over with.
That's the same effect "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" has on the viewer. You can't wait for the film to get past its endless set-up and exposition and get to the fun stuff. But the wait is long.
This prequel to the 1968 sci-fi classic explains exactly how Earth came to be overrun by hyper-intelligent apes while the human population died out. The idea is genius - what a creative way to relaunch a dormant franchise! - but the execution is something else entirely.