1. felt experimental to me, like Animal Farm, like a prison drama with a cast of monkeys, surprising in a good way
2. Happy they ignored Burton's movie. He had no love for the material, made it all a big boring joke. This one has some in jokes and nods to the original run of movies, but it is done with kindness and love.
3. No one is really evil in this movie, just various levels of asshole, and I liked that. There was no personification of all that is evil in the world. It is more like we have this system, and we are all stressed feeding the system, and some entities are just steamrolled in the process. The most we get here is an persnickety backstreet boy with daddy issues and the corporate guy who wants to "gulp" make money! But he is even treated fairly. I was expecting something more like Avatar where humans are SCUM and nature in all its eat the young and sodomize your cousin purity is IDEAL.
4. None of the humans make any impact at all. Except for John Lithgow. The director makes them empathetic, but the CG creations are so much better then the actors. You are rooting for the monkeys the whole time, Franco, not Jess, but the other Franco, Green Goblin's kid, is a dull eyed mannequin in this, he looks like he wandered in from The Polar Express. He's terrible, but miscast, BUT! that's the point. IF we had Jimmy Stewart in the lead no one would give a damn about a CG monkey.
5. Gorilla versus Helicopter!
6. I was wondering what the heck I was watching half the time. It felt like a really good cartoon with moments of live action cut in. It is like a Godzilla movie, with all suits and puppets and miniatures, and then you cut to Raymond Burr looking earnest.
7. This is a small story here, about one monkey's (ape) fight for independence and dignity, and that was also unexpected. This stands on it's own. It does its own thing. It isn't like a PotA sequel. It feels different. Like a drama or something, it isn't just cat nip for sci fi nerds.
8. WETA pretty much kills it here. It isn't always convincing (they're calling it the uncanny valley these days), but they nail giving the CG monkeys individual personalities and making them empathetic.
9. There's a subplot about the end of the world shoehorned in there, but given little screen time, because it isn't that type of movie. The script is about people (apes) finding a nice spot in the sun. It's not about leading seamlessly into the previous movies.
10. I would support an Oscar category for best computer animated performance based on this film.