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…
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.
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.
“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.
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 … more
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' … more
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, … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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.