run time: 105 mins
considered: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi
director: Rupert Wyatt
starring: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Richard Ridings, Christopher Gordon, Devy Dalton, Jay Caputo, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, Tyler Labine, Jaime Harris
movie summary: Gen-Sys is a biotechnology lab in San Francisco that has been testing new products on chimpanzees to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. Will Rodman (James Franco) has been busy testing newly developed ALZ-112 on one female chimp called Bright Eyes. All test data show positive results in Bright Eye’s brain but on the day of Will’s presentation to the board of Gen-Sys she flips out and destroys the lab causing the company to shut down all production of ALZ-112. Will is heartbroken since his dad Charles (John Lithgow) has Alzheimer’s and he just wants him to get better. While shifting through the pieces of his lab work, Will discovers that Bright Eyes gave birth a baby chimpanzee that he must take home to protect from being put down like the rest of them.
When Will brings the chimpanzee home he names the infant Caesar, he realizes that Caesar’s eyes are just as bright as his mom’s and that the ALZ-112 actually worked. Since his lab has been shut down he steals a few tubes of ALZ-112 to start human trials on his dad, which work out extremely well in the beginning but the disease is more powerful and his body has developed antibiotics. As his dad continues to struggle with his disease, Will focuses all his time into teaching Caesar everything that can. In five years since secretly adopting Caesar, Will has found a girlfriend Caroline Aranha (Freida Pinto) who is a veterinarian. Together they watch Caesar grow every day and do amazing things beyond the normal ape mental and physical capacity. The trio spends the weekends across the bay at the Muir Woods National Monument where Caesar swings through the big redwood trees all day long. While leaving the park one day Caesar spots a dog that doesn’t take to kindly to him, after a brief stare down Caesar flashes his teeth and scares the dog away. In the car Caesar sits in the back seat and has an argument with Will in sign language about being a pet and always being on a leash in public.
Caesar’s cozy life at Will’s house is about to come to an end when Charles is outside attempting to drive away with the neighbor’s car. His dementia has been become really bad and he has no clue what he’s doing anymore. When the neighbour forcefully removes Charles from the car, Caesar loses his mind from the window in the attic and swings his way through the house to help rescue his best friend. The cops show up and take Caesar away for his violent outburst despite Will’s protest. Caesar is taken away to animal shelter for apes run by the shady John Landon (Brian Cox) and his mean kid Dodge (Tom Felton). Together the pair mistreat the apes by spraying them with fire hoses, shooting them with darts when they act out, and serving them slop for food. Will visits caesar as much as he can but can’t take him home without a court appointment which can up to 90 days. Feeling alone and negated, Caesar begins to bond with the other apes.
One night after being mistreated by Dodge (again) Caesar decides the time has come for him to unite the other mistreated apes. He figures if he acts alone he will be killed, but if he gets a group together they will be much stronger and can over take the humans. After a few days he realizes there’s only two apes out of the group that have any smarts so he breaks out of the facility to track down some ALZ-112. Over the next week Caesar breaks out of his cage at night and begins to interact with the apes to get them on the same page he’s on. Through treats and better behaviour Caesar becomes the unofficial leader of the apes and is ready to revolt against the humans to gain back his freedom.
my thoughts: As Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hit theatres today I thought it would be time to review Rise of the Planet of Apes from 2011. I actually saw this movie in the theatres and thought it was a good movie to reboot this historical franchise. I have tried to sit through the original Planet of the Apes movies, but those movies from the 1960s and 1970s are really lame. I have recently seen the 2001 Tim Burton version of the Planet of the Apes with Mark Wahlberg, but let’s be honest here that was not a great picture (despite a solid cast) and he never followed it up leaving me to feel sour about it. At least in 2011 the franchise was given a make over, upgrade, and rebooted with much better results.
Hollywood has one of the finest actors of our generation and almost any generation in Andy Serkis. If you don’t know who he is I’ll remind you he was Gollum in the Lord of the Rings franchise. He’s the guy that wears a special suit every day to work that captures every moment of his face and body that computers turn into live-action creatures we either love or hate on the big screen. This time around he has the distinct honor of playing Caesar, a once friendly happy-go-lucky ape who gets tired of being mistreated and leads a group of his hairy friends to take over the world. I’ve seen pictures of the suits Serkis has worn through out his career to bring his computer animated creatures to life and his past experiences really help him give us a stellar performance as Caesar.
Jame Franco is the main human contact for the apes. For those of you out there who are against animal testing, Rise of the Planet of the Apes will not be for you, even though Franco’s character is really compassionate towards his test subjects. He a brilliant guy who just wants to make the world a better place and the only real test dummies happen to be chimps because of their connections to Homo sapiens. When he adopts Caesar he puts his life’s work on hold to care and help Caesar grow into probably the world’s smartest chimpanzee. He will risk his career and life to protect his best friend while watching him destroy the city they live in. He comes to understand through Caesar and his actions that apes are not meant to be test dummies or be held captive, they are meant to roam freely and enjoy the forest like God created them to do.
The only other topic I wish to touch upon is according to my IMDb rating of 2011 I gave this movie 7/10 stars. After watching it again on Wednesday I am dropping my rating down a star, I felt the story was rushed and the movie was not long enough to tell a better story. At ony 1:35 minutes long it’s really hard to showcase character developement, Caesar’s amazing growth, and highlighting the apes taking over the bay area. When I grouped all that together I felt the movie didn’t deserve such a high rating despite the fact it’s a really great introduction back into the franchise.
my final thoughts: Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a brief and quick movie that showcases how apes went from being held captive to rulers after one big revolt. There’s not a lot of action but very amusing storytelling through sign language and body movements. It’s a must watch for those heading out this weekend to see Dawn of the Planet of the Apes because those events take place after this movie.
my star rating: 6 out 10
imdb.com: 7.6 out 10
rottentomatoes.com: 82% out 100%
rogerebert.com: 3 out 4