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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

A 2011 reboot of the popular science fiction film franchise.

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"Ape Rights" And A Call To Arms.....

  • Aug 6, 2011
Remakes, prequels, re-boots, re-issues and re-imaginings often fall under one creative and narrative flaw. No matter how good a film is or tries to be, it always feels rather predictable. It is rather difficult to really judge the newest injection to the “Planet of Apes” franchise as director Rupert Wyatt tries his hand to re-boot and re-issue the core premise of the classic saga. Originally titled “Caesar and the Rise of the Apes”, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is not a direct remake but rather it fits into the continuity of the “Apes” saga (it would fit between "Conquest" and "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" if memory serves me correctly). The film feels very similar to 1972‘s “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” and feels totally unrelated to Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes” remake in 2001.

It is quite easy to figure out where the film is headed since the trailer spoils the first hour of the film. Will Rodman (James Franco, 127 Hours) is a scientist who is looking for the answer to Alzheimer’s disease; and he seems to be on the verge of a major discovery by coming up with a way to re-generate brain tissue. Rodman is partly doing this experiment for his sick father, while his boss (David Oyelowo) is motivated because of the promise of profit. The tests on the chimpanzees prove to be a success at first, until a bizarre incident ends up shutting down the project and Will ends up taking home a baby chimpanzee that he soon calls “Caesar” (played by motion capture specialist Andy Serkis). Caesar quickly displays excellent pre-cognitive skills and amazing intelligence as he is raised as part of the family. Things seem to be doing well, until Caesar’s primal instincts take over when he defends Will’s sick father from an angry neighbor and the law becomes involved. Caesar gets carted away to an ape holding facility managed by John Landon (Brian Cox). Once there, Caesar decides to do something to save his brethren from the abusive treatment in the facility while Will goes further into the experiments on chimpanzees…

                      Andy Serkis as Caesar in ``Rise of the Planet of the Apes.''

                     Tom Felton in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

                     Freida Pinto and James Franco in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

As I’ve said, it is easy to predict a film such as “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”. One really would be able to identify its many clichés and borrowed elements. I mean a cure for Alzheimer’s comes from “Deep Blue Sea”, borrows a device from "Congo" and then the set ups were indeed filled with clichés such as an experiment that goes too far, themes of human greed, man’s need to feel superior and to have a feeling of control, and how obsession can lead to ruin. It is actually sort of a cautionary tale about man’s innate nature to try to play God, and how sometimes the right motivation can lead to wrong results. The film is really filled with cliché and even some characters are stereotypes. I mean, I thought that the jailers in the ape facility were lifted from other prison films we’ve all seen before and felt very cartoonish; even the character played by Frieda Pinto was shamefully underwritten.

But hey, even a film filled with stereotypes and cliché can be entertaining; as director Rupert Wyatt and writers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa manages to put together several surprises and credible touches. I admit to a certain extent that I wasn’t too impressed with some elements put into the screenplay, and the family thing sure didn’t make the film any more inspired, but I did like the way the film focused on the story inside the ape facility as it becomes sort of a prison drama and a “coming of age” and scenes of maturity for Caesar. The humans are the bad guys here and the apes were merely trying to peacefully exist; they do try to prove which one is tough dog, but before you know it, the apes begin to recognize the potentials for leadership and they even do favors for cookies (instead of cigarettes). From then on, the film becomes a sort of a prison drama and an escape film much like the “Great Raid”. It also gives several messages on “working together“, and how a united front can present a more formidable stance than something that stands alone.

                 Andy Serkis as Caesar in ``Rise of the Planet of the Apes.''

                Caesar embraces John Lithgow in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

Part of what I liked about the film is how it manages to flesh out the idea that the apes won the planet from the humans. I never could buy into that fact seeing as how much more advance in weaponry and how humans have the advantage in numbers that apes could take over the planet. The film presents a credible perspective; sure it wasn’t perfect but I sure could believe into it. Wyatt was able to put things together, if somewhat on shaky ground (some parts dragged a bit), I liked the way the film made each element in the story come around. The acting was a little wobbly on some points, but hey, as I’ve said, this is a movie about Caesar and the apes; humans are a secondary element.

The special effects in the film were real good. I mean you could see the emotional expressions felt by Caesar and the apes were very well rendered. The apes effects were very well executed by the guys who gave us "Avatar" and may have even used the CGI engine in King Kong for the Silverback gorilla, but some parts of the film weren’t that well animated. The backgrounds were good, but sometimes I could just tell that they were enhanced to make the films feel more solid in the designs. The music does provide the needed stimulation so we could feel each beat of suspense. The film did have several good scenes of emotion, and this gave it a certain level of balance which I appreciated. Take note that the film is rated “PG” so violence is kept to a minimum.

                 A defiant Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

                 David Oyelowo as Steven Jacobs in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” doesn’t really have a strong narrative but I guess I could understand since it is only the beginning for an intended trilogy. Much like the mediocre “Captain America” and “Thor” were the set ups for next year’s “Avengers”, this film was a mere launch pad. It does have several cool moments as Caesar’s call to arms and the goal for freedom was pretty awesome. The encounters and the battles were cool and the first ‘speech’ was perfectly timed that it managed to salvage the movie for me. I guess my main gripe would have to be that the film didn’t go further with its premise about the abuse and the commentary on experimentation and ‘ape rights’. The film had decent action but the story just didn’t feel maturely developed so that you could easily look past its clichés.

I guess, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is a good distraction. I liked it, as I guess I am a sucker for themes about fighting for your rights and any movie battles filmed in my native San Francisco; but I would caution you not to expect too much.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

                       Teaser poster for "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."



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August 26, 2011
What bothers me most (other than the fact that it IS just another unimaginative remake) is the use of Andy Serkis. It's getting so that he does so much of this type of work that I no longer see the character--I see Andy Serkis! I probably won't see this until it comes to TV. Instead I'll choose to waste my money on a flick that will enrage me even more FRIGHT NIGHT, a movie I really loved in its original incarnation, and which from what I can tell has been stripped of everything that made it special.
August 27, 2011
I need to see "Fright Night" just because the trailers intrigued me. I do think it has a different tone to the original, folks I know liked it, but then again, I am not sure how much of a horror fan they are. My vacation is slowing down my movie reviewing and to think that it is only $ 4-5 to see a movie in Asia....in a luxurious theater. Yay for the U.S. dollar!
August 31, 2011
Wow! How incredibly cheap. You'd never get me out of the theater.
August 11, 2011
I don't think I've seen any of the Ape movies, so I'm not sure whether I will ever see this one. I would probably want to view the classics first. The trailers have intrigued me, though, as does your review. Very nicely put!
August 13, 2011
The one I really remember was the original and the mediocre 2nd movie "Beneath". I think "Conquest" and "Battle" was pretty alright but I'll have to re-watch them one of these days. I cannot really remember "Escape" "...I know I've seen it, but I cannot remember which premise is which.
August 15, 2011
Ah, well, we almost saw this one. Jason saw an interesting trailer, and he wanted to see this for my birthday. I chose "The Help" instead, lol! I didn't feel like the depressing ending that these Ape movies have. :-P
October 08, 2011
Hi, Adri....did you see THE HELP yet?
August 09, 2011
The photography and writing is well done !
August 13, 2011
thanks again for the read and comments.
August 09, 2011
What no Cornelius and Zera? No Ricardo Montalban at the circus? Sounds like they did a really good job at re-booting this tale. I had no intention of seeing this as the story has been done to death but your review has got me interested.
August 09, 2011
I am tempted to tell you...but I'd rather you find out about Cornelius and Zera yourself. Give it a look, I would be really interested in what you thought of this movie. I remember you as a fan of the original movie....
August 09, 2011
Weta is pretty badass, so I can't wait to see this film. No, I don't have any high expectations for plotlines in any story that has Planet of the Apes in the title, sorry. Great review, Woo! Shared this one all over the place ;p
August 08, 2011
Awesome review, Woo! I had no idea that the same guys who did the graphics for Avatar also worked on this, but Avatar actually popped into my head while I was watching this because the visuals were so stunning.
August 08, 2011
Thanks, Dev. The CGI EFX were done by Peter Jackson's company who had also done LOTR, King Kong and Avatar. The graphics here was very good, though Avatar was still a step above.
August 08, 2011
Oh yeah, Avatar's was spectacular, but of course, its plot called for more of it since it was based on another planet and not San Francisco ;P Both were so frigging cool though!
August 08, 2011
Good review, but technically this film doesn't fit into the continuity of the original films since it's not set in the '60s and doesn't have the apes going back in time and proliferating causing the Earth to become Planet of the Apes, but rather has a new origin story revolving around evolution caused by the invention of a retrovirus. See, the original film had a cyclical chronology meaning that because of the time travel which occurred in the third film, the events of each successive film lead to the events of both the next film, but also set up the events for the prior films (sometimes this is called a Moebius strip story line and both "12 Monkeys" and "Donnie Darko" function in this same way). In some ways I guess that this is like the most recent "Star Trek" film which serves as a prequel/reboot. But I think that this one will be better since it really has acting and a screenplay. Personally, I'm glad that they have ignored the horrid Tim Burton film, because that one had me going apeshit! LOL!
August 08, 2011
"Conquest" was the time when a virus had wiped out dogs and cats, so humans used apes as pets. "Escape" was when the apes rose up against the human mistreatment. This is a reboot, but if you want to fit it into the saga, those would be the reasonable picks. Some did say that this is a remake of both films though.
August 08, 2011
as for Burton's movie, ugh. I have gone apeshit.
August 08, 2011
"Escape from the Planet of the Apes" is when the apes go back in time right before the Earth was destroyed (which happened in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes") and they become celebrities at first until the public and the government turn on them after finding out the future and they kill them off except for newborn Caesar who then goes on to start the resistance in "Conquest" and became an almost messianic figure in "Battle".
August 08, 2011
your memory is better than mine....the only one I've seen numerous times is the first movie. I always get mixed up with all this ape movies LOL!
August 08, 2011
The third film was always my favorite because it was the most directly satirical of the contemporary cultural landscape of the '60s and '70s, the cult of personality that was steadily on the rise, and the racial tensions of the larger cities after the death of MLK.
August 09, 2011
They should make a movie called "King Kong in the Planet of the Apes" LOL
August 08, 2011
Ape rules? LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!
August 08, 2011
King Kong has nothing on me LOL!
August 08, 2011
"it would fit between "Conquest" and "Escape from Planet of the Apes" ", I was wondering how this would fit in, excellent review.
August 08, 2011
It is more of a reboot than a prequel, but it does have similarities to those two movies.
August 06, 2011
I want to see this one - but is it sad at any point? I hate sad animals even if they aren't real (I didn't like King Kong cuz I felt sorry for him LOL) and I won't see it if I will get upset!! Great review as always Will!!
August 06, 2011
It is "good" sad...sort of bittersweet at the ending. I think you may like it. It was entertaining but I almost thought about rounding down that 3.5/5 since the plot was very predictable. I did like the energy in the direction though.
August 06, 2011
OK--cuz I cry easily!! LOL
August 06, 2011
I'll give you a tissue laced with onions LOL!
August 07, 2011
No, you'll let me cry on your shoulder!! LOL 2 Jews said there was some animal cruelty going on -- you didn't mention that and I can't take it, even if they aren't real!!!!!!
August 07, 2011
I did mention it in a subtle way when I said "...man's need to feel superior and to have control". I cannot say it upfront unless asked since it may spoil the movie. :)
August 08, 2011
Oh sorry----I didn't catch the subtlety and hope I didn't spoil anything for you. I cried when Mufosa died in The Lion King for God's sake, LOL, which is why I had to ask. I'm a tough-as-nails lady but am extremely sensitive too. Sorry sweets.....
August 08, 2011
here's that tissue with onions LMAO!
August 08, 2011
You are a hopeless romantic...LMAO!!
August 08, 2011
I am not a romantic but an onion with many layers LOL!!
August 08, 2011
LOL -- I believe it!!
More Rise of the Planet of the Apes reviews
review by . January 22, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
I was surprised that this is actually a pretty good film and a lot stronger reworking of the original storyline that that Wahlberg film a few years back. James Franco works in a lab and is trying to come up with a cure for Alzheimer's. He experiments on chimps and one shows a lot of promise. When a mistake leads to the chimp being killed and the project shut down, there is a slight wrinkle. The chimp in question was pregnant and was only protecting her newborn.    Franco takes …
review by . August 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' 'Two Jews On Film' Cheer This SciFi Cautionary Tale (Video)
         What makes 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' so unique is that it's the first live-action film to be told from the point of view of a sentient animal -- A chimpanzee--named Caesar...brilliantly portrayed by Andy Serkis, the world's foremost  performance capture actor.  Andy infuses Caesar with nuance, wisdom and most importantly... heart.        'Rise Of The Planets Of The Apes' …
review by . August 06, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         It’s tempting to judge Rise of the Planet of the Apes on the basis of the several marketing adjectives that have been applied to it. I’ve heard it referred to as a remake, a reboot, a revamp, a reimagining, and a prequel; it may in fact be all those things, but to be perfectly frank, I don’t see how that matters in the slightest. The best way to approach this film, I think, is to judge it on its own terms. And on its own terms, …
review by . August 15, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Now that the summer’s coming to a close, a focus is returning to the more idea and character-driven stories that signal the Fall Movie Season. Rise of the Planet of the Apes definitely feels like one of those slower films that works far better when it’s working on constructing an idea than when it’s trying to deliver on blockbuster action film. In the end though it’s still a emotionally dominant and technologically remarkable film that shouldn’t be missed. The film …
review by . September 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
      Rise of the Apes (as I like to call this movie because the title is too long and stupid) is probably the best "what-if" movie of the year. The so-called prequel to the original Planet of the Apes surely delivers the expected and probably exceeds our expectations. I wasn't sold at the beginning in Wyatt's talent as a director but now I'm convinced. He managed to reinvent this franchise by giving it exactly what it needs: a good story with a good amount …
review by . August 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
12A - 105mins - Action/Drama/Sci-Fi - 11th August 2011   It's been 10 years since the last Planet of the Apes film and looking back, it is fair to say that the years have not treated it too well- the ape costumes are verging on amusing rather than scary. This latest reboot brings us an origins story painting a picture of the beginning of the end for the human race and the start of dominance for the apes on Earth. They have brought back this franchise again with a movie that isn't …
Quick Tip by . August 16, 2011
This is my favorite of the series, by far. The reason: it's the most believable...well, except for Freida Pinto whose character really didn't add anything to the story. James Franco has quickly become one of my favorite actors ever since I saw him in Milk, Howl, 127 Hours and add this one to the list. He does a great job of balancing love for his pseudo-chimp child but, treating him like a pet and the dedicated scientist who is desperate to find a cure for Alzheimers. John Lithgow doesn't get the …
Quick Tip by . September 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
the preview pretty much summed up what I saw and it was a way better film than the last planet of the apes and the thought of a sequel to this makes it even better,, def worth a watch
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
This movie was so friggin' cool! Even more cool that it's based in my native San Francisco. I had no idea what to expect, only watching it because I saw positive ratings and because I had liked a previous Planet of the Apes film. This did not disappoint. The visuals are astounding and the plot just makes you think. This is one of those movies that you'll have to catch while it's on the big screen.
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William ()
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About this movie



Director: Rupert Wyatt
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Release Date: August 5, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Pierre Boulle, Rick Jaffa
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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