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 of amazing action scenes. Although this was sold as a sci-fi/action blockbuster, Rise of the Apes is more than that. It's more of a sci-fi/drama than an action film thanks to the incredible moving story of this young chimpanzee Caesar played almost flawlessly by the well-known Andy Serkis.
The story starts with Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist who runs for a company run by David Oyelowo, who's main occupation is the search for a cure for the Alzheimer syndrome. His dedication for the discovery of this cure is also influenced by the fact that his father, Charles Rodman (John Lithgow) is also a walking victim of the Alzheimer. During the process of testing various samples of the cure in progress on chimpanzees, he notices a strange interference with ape's behavior and intelligence. Apparently, the tested samples increase the capacity of intelligence to the apes. Because of a prior to this failed experiment he was forced to save the life of this one special chimpanzee (Caesar - Andy Serkis). A monkey which inherited her mother's genetics including the potential cure. Will continues to experiment home on Caesar and year by year he teaches him and trains him till the point where Caesar will walk and behave like humans do. He'll understand human language but still cannot speak it. In parallel time with Caesar's evolution, Will finds out that the cure is actually working while administrating a dose to his father when he was in the weakest condition. The effect was immediate and soon he got the chance of working again in the lab on the cure. At the same time, Caesar is getting more and more aware of the things surrounding him, he starts to question himself and even tries to understand how is him not another "pet". It's like he's hurt of knowing that he might be a "pet" so he needs to make sure that he isn't by asking Will "who is Caesar". But still problems don't appear in this time.
Problems appear after more than 5 years, when Charles, Will's father starts to behave inappropriately, the Alzheimer appearing to come back in a worse state than ever. One day, during one Alzheimer crisis, Charles gets in trouble with some neighbor. But he was not alone. Caesar always watched outside his window, always felt protective about his family, always cared for the people who took care of him, he loved them and he understood what love means so he decides to get out of the house and jump on the neighbor beating him and scaring him till Charles stops him from going further. Because of this action alone, Caesar will have to be taken into a placement where he will meet with his destiny. Here is where the actual story gets deeper and more interesting. The separation between Caesar and Will evolves into issues of family recognition, of trust, of betrayal or of loyalty. Loyalty to who? To the human? To the other apes? In that placement, which looks more and more like a jail where the apes are treated badly by a stereotypically retarded take-carer, Caesar will find answers to many of his questions. He will connect with the other monkeys, he will understand their condition, he will see their suffering, he will see human's desire to hurt, to enslave, to make fun of or human's pleasure to laugh at the ones that are inferior to him. Caesar emerges into a captivating world. A world in which his "brothers", his new "family" should be free and why not, even in control of things. On the other part of the story, Will still has problems at his company, his boss wanting to develop the on-going program even further while Will directly opposing it due to the severe reactions the cure has when it's applied on humans. But Will's story of human exploitation and greed really drops considerably in delivering interest to the audience. The audience wants more of Caesar and that because of the magical way in which Andy Serkis decided to play him.
While James Franco's performance is very good, emotional, simple but convincing, Andy's portrayal of an ape is probably unseen before on screen. It's an interesting experiment, an interesting idea that worked and showed Andy's acting skills. However, while I do admit I was fascinated by his work, I cannot really understand the Oscar-worthy performance praising that has hit the internet. To me, this performance can't be put in the same bowl with the other because it's a performance using a different technique and using a different technology, so unless the Academy decides to make a special award for these types of performances, I cannot agree with Serkis deserving an Oscar for his work in Rise of the Apes. But let's get back to our story since it's getting close to the ending.
The final moments in Rise of the Apes consist of Caesar becoming the "leader" of the other apes. He takes control of things in that placements, he succeeds a break-out, he produces chaos into the city and he's responsible of some great action moments which will not make you "wow" your head but will also make you think and ask yourself the typical "what-if" questions. As a leader of these apes, he fights for their own freedom and dreams of getting in peaceful way to the natural resort in which he played so many times along the years he stood home with Will. He wants to be free and climb those trees again without having a schedule, without having to respond to someone. During the fight scenes between the humans and the apes, fights scenes which become more tactical than one-to-one brutality, we encounter feelings that Caesar still has for the humans. His character is so well developed and creates so much tensions and suspense around it that you cannot hold but to cheer for his success. You want the humans to fail because the ape shows much more humanity than anything. It's like he understands our world better than we are. And it surely sounds like a cliche, but this cliche was managed wonderfully in this film. In addition, we have some scenes that pay homage to the original film, thing that I enjoyed and found to fit this movie perfectly.
Accompanied by a very realistic display of the monkey's behavior, by a tremendous piece of acting from Serkis, by great music and by a great powerful and emotional story, Rise of the Apes makes justice to this franchise after years of failures and regrets. Rise of the Apes might be easily the real blockbuster of the summer and we might as well wait for another Apes movie if it will be made in the same manor.
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” … more
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
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.