Friday, 05 June 2020
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 12:12

Rise of the Planet of the ApesEvery time a movie franchise gets a so-called “reboot” an angel loses its’ wings. At least that’s my opinion. There are a few rare exceptions to this rule (ex: The Dark Knight), but mostly filmmakers just cross their fingers and hope we suffer temporary amnesia and forget that an original ever existed (ex: The Hulk). Rise of the Planet of the Apes is actually a reboot of a reboot since the original 1970’s franchise was already subject to a remake in 2001. Thankfully, this latest adaptation isn’t a copy but a savvy reimagining of just how all those talking apes managed to take over the planet in the first place.

James “that guy is everywhere” Franco plays Will Rodman, a scientist at a cutting edge medical lab who is developing a drug he hopes will cure Alzheimer’s. Will takes his job to heart because his ailing father (John Lithgow) suffers from the disease. But the project is kyboshed due to adverse affects in some of the test subjects, and Will finds himself faced with rescuing a baby ape from the lab.

Caesar and FrancoYou can probably guess where it goes from here. Caesar, the baby Chimp, grows up in a loving home and it soon becomes apparent that his intellect is, shall we say, heightened. Basically he’s smarter than the human children on his block, which he admires from his attic window. This is where the story has the greatest strength – in portraying the solitary loneliness of this creature that has one foot in the world of wild creatures and one in the world of humanity. As Caesar grows he begins to wonder what his place in the world is, wondering whether he is Will’s child or his pet.

I won’t go on to ruin the rest of the story for you, but I’m sure you’ll have guessed that some pretty major events happen that bring about the radical battle of apes and humans. But for the most part, this is a rather somber, sad tale of one lonely creature.

Caesar risesAndy Serkis brought humanity to Gollum, a motion-capture character in Lord of the Rings, and he brings even more empathetic qualities to Caesar. What a brilliant actor to convey so much emotion through his actions in a dotted body suit against a blue screen! The film utilizes the same technology used in Avatar, and creates very realistic ape characters. The special effects overall are brilliant.

My main complaint about this film is that, at times the story feels rushed – especially during the final few scenes when there is too much explanation being crammed in at the last minute. And there are a LOT of plot holes and questions remaining.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a very good effort to breathe new life into the classic franchise. And I’m glad it is a new story and not just a remake.


Directed by Rupert Wyatt, Starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow.

Andy Serkis also played a motion-capture ape in Peter Jackson’s King Kong.