James Franco Gets Hairy in New ‘Rise of the Apes’ Teaser

By Ryan J. Downey

Ape riot! A brand-new teaser for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” has arrived, and it delivers exactly what the title promises: apes, apes, apes rising up and terrorizing the streets!

Watch the progressively smarter apes as they stare with menacingly human eyes, clamor around in cages, swarm the trees of human suburbia and, finally, breathtakingly overrun the Golden Gate Bridge! It’s ape-demonium!

Perhaps the most famous scene in 1968’s original “Planet of the Apes” flick is when the human astronaut played by Charlton Heston discovers (spoiler alert) the ruins of the Statue of Liberty and realizes, at the precise same moment as the audience, that he has not, in fact, crash landed on an alien planet ruthlessly ruled by talking apes, but rather, he’s been transported to Earth’s grim future.

Four sequels, short-lived television adaptations (both live action and cartoon), comic books, action figures and more followed, with the franchise fizzling out in popularity (and quality) by the mid-’70s. Director Tim Burton filmed a 2001 “Planet of the Apes” remake with Mark Wahlberg in the lead role, taking liberties with the established mythology of both the original movie and the novel upon which it was based.

The flick grossed $178 million dollars but disappointed most critics. Frankly, the “Apes” canon often was pretty confusing and contradictory to begin with, but British director Rupert Wyatt is basically starting from scratch with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (due in theaters on August 5), and this new trailer is a great indication of where he’s chosen to go with the potential franchise restarter for Fox.

We see James Franco as Will Rodman, whose experimental Alzheimer’s drug turns an ape wickedly smart in perhaps the most expensive PSA against animal testing ever filmed. We also see Brian Cox, who starred in Wyatt’s award-winning British thriller “The Escapist,” as well as his on-screen son, “Harry Potter” actor Tom Felton.

Most importantly, we see a bunch of apes running rampant. The lead ape is a chimpanzee named Caesar — just like the one played by Roddy McDowall in 1972’s “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” and 1973’s “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” — but, for the most part, the similarities end there. In the original franchise’s mythology, Caesar is the offspring of two superintelligent chimps from the future that travel back in time who grows up to lead the ape uprising in something of a time-travel paradox that has confounded hardcore fans for decades.

This time around Caesar is played by Andy Serkis, whose motion-capture work brought to life both the title star in the 2005 “King Kong” remake and Gollum in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy for director Peter Jackson. It’s safe to assume that “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is going to forge its own path, with perhaps a few Easter-egg-type nods to the 1970s “Apes” films.

We don’t get a lot of story in this trailer, but we do see some very cool action!

Will wizards, vampires or dream thieves steal the 2011 MTV Movie Awards? Find out Sunday, when the 20th annual show airs live at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Tune in at 7:30 p.m. ET/PT for the “America’s Best Dance Crew” finale and Movie Awards pre-show, loaded with live action from the red carpet, exclusive movie clips and a special edition of “After Hours.”