Release Date
August 5, 2011
Rupert Wyatt
Rick Jaffa
Amanda Silver
Based On A Novel By
Pierre Boulle
Distributed By
20th Century Fox
$93 million
Action, Drama, Science Fiction
Rated PG-13 for violence, terror, some sexuality and brief strong language
105 minutes

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

In a reboot to the franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes opens up the series with the origin story. Rise is based on the film Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, but instead of ape slave labor, the apes are being used as test subjects for a new Alzheimer’s treatment called ALZ 112. The results not only favor well for the treatment, but also enhances the ape’s brain functions, allowing them to learn sign language with ease. All it takes is one out-of-control ape and the research is over.

One of my biggest worries walking into the film was whether James Franco could pull off playing a scientist. The result was somewhere in between Franco delivering a fine performance and the film being good enough to cover up his faults. When the cast of a film is mainly made up of voiceless apes (for the most part), it is easier for an audience to latch on to the human counterparts, no matter where the performances rate. All the same, Franco comes off believable and his natural sincerity comes across perfectly when caring for the ape that he takes home, named Caesar.

Portrayed physically by Andy Serkis of The Lord of the Rings and Gollum fame, Caesar, puts on the best performance of the film. The film industry has advanced ages since even the last Planet of the Apes of 2001. With all the post-Avatar advances in CGI, instead of actors in full monkey suits, the actors are basically fully enhanced shadows on the wall. The fact that Andy Serkis has been mentioned as possibly gaining an Oscar nomination for his pseudo-perfomance is testament to the technology already, whether that comes to fruition or not. When a CGI ape pulls off the best performance of the film (in an already great film) that is truly saying something.

As always, the undertones of humans not fully understanding the complexity of science and nature plays through wonderfully without completely slapping the audience in the face. Animals will be animals. As much as the scientists and zoo keepers think they can mold the apes into perfect test subjects, in the words of Jeff Goldblum’s character, Malcolm, from Jurassic Park, “Life finds a way”. Even when Franco’s character, Will, believes that by finding Caesar after the revolt will somehow bring back Caesar’s compassion shows the misunderstanding between civilized pet and dangerous wild animal.

Not only does the plot of the film flow naturally and engulf with a spectrum of emotion, the graphics grab you and pull you into that world, seamlessly, making the world of intelligent apes a reality. The film feels like all genres, bringing action, drama, and horror to the table simultaneously. The battle scene on the Golden Gate Bridge is enough to sell the film and ends up being one of the best action sequences of the year. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is enthralling. Though the humans are basically set pieces compared to the complex characters of the apes (especially the under-utilized John Lithgow and Freida Pinto), the film finds a way to hold strong. One of the most unique films of the year, I am fully behind a reboot of this series.


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