Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)Starring James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Freida Pinto, Brian Cox, Tom Felton

Directed by Rupert Wyatt

The original Planet of the Apes starring Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall still remains one of the best epic science fiction films of all time. It's had its share of sequels and spin-offs since being released in 1968 (five movies and two television series, not to mention the Tim Burton reboot so many of us fans would like to forget even existed), proving that no matter how much time passes, compelling storytelling will endure.

Here we are now 43 years after the release of the first film, and 20th Century Fox is rebooting the franchise once again with director Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which sets out to give audiences a new spin on the origin story of the Apes franchise by following revolutionary chimpanzee Caesar as he breaks free from the human world he's born into, breathing new life into the long-dormant property and finally giving fans the modern Apes movie we've been longing for ever since Burton's debacle was released ten years ago.

If you're one of the purists who follow every aspect of the origin story established in the original Apes franchise, Rise will require you to put some of that behind you. Here we are introduced to Caesar (Serkis), the leader of the primate uprising, as the progeny of Chimp #9 (also known as "Bright Eyes," a shout-out to original Apes), who is captured in a remote jungle to be used in Dr. Will Rodman (Franco)'s simian-stage testing of a potential neuro-regenerative cure for Alzheimer's for medical developer GenSys.

When Chimp #9 is shot dead after running amok in the testing facility, the head of GenSys orders the rest of the apes to be put down and terminates Rodman's program. But once Will discovers Bright Eyes' baby hiding under a table and realizes that's the real reason she was acting out (not due to medical side effects of the testing), he's left with the burden of responsibility for the baby chimp. Rather than letting Bright Eyes' baby suffer the same fate as his mother, Will takes the infant primate home with him until he can figure out what to do with it. But as soon as he gets home, Will's father, Charles (Lithgow), who struggles with the debilitating effects of dementia, becomes immediately attached to the chimp and names him Caesar in honor of William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)Will notices from the start that there is something remarkable about Caesar- he exhibits heightened intelligence and reasoning skills mostly due to the effects of the medical treatment being passed onto him while still in the womb. Over time Caesar begins to flourish, and once Will sees what the drug can do, he decides to administer it to Charles on the DL from GenSys in a desperate attempt to save both his father and years of research he's done for the company in searching for a cure for Alzheimer's. Remarkably, Charles responds to Will's treatments, and even if it is for a short time, it seems like all is right in Will's world- Charles' rebound from dementia is almost instantaneous, and he's finding himself enjoying his father-son relationship with Caesar.

As we all know, the good times always have to end, and soon Will's faced with potentially losing both his father and Caesar after a horrific incident plays out where the chimp attacks a neighbor in an effort to protect Charles, and Caesar is sent to live at a primate sanctuary in San Bruno managed by the unscrupulous John Landon (Cox) and his douchebag of a son, Dodge (Felton, once again playing a villain). Once Caesar is left at San Bruno, he begins to realize that the human race isn't all it's cracked up to be without Will around to protect him. Caesar decides he's done taking orders and starts putting together a plan to rally not only all the primates at San Bruno but other primates located all over the San Francisco area. And so begins the actual Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

From there the movie's pace gets a boost, and Caesar and his pals are off to show the humans just why they're done being considered "second-class citizens." There's a lot of mayhem once the primates are on the loose that builds to an epic showdown between law enforcement officials and the primates on the Golden Gate Bridge which is nothing short of a spectacular feast for the eyes.

There are also a few surprises in the film's third act that I would never dream of giving away for our readers, but suffice to say that Rise of the Planet of the Apes is hands-down the best film of the franchise since 1972's Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (although I still enjoy 1973's Battle immensely, Conquest is by far a stronger film) and is the kind of film we should have gotten back in 2001 when Burton took a crack at the franchise.

Rise definitely takes some liberties with the mythology established in its predecessors. Writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver decide to ignore the time travel-based explanation for the apes' rise that was established in 1971's Escape from the Planet of the Apes as well as reinventing the origin story for Caesar, who was originally introduced as the offspring of Cornelius and Zira in Escape and became the leader of the ape uprising in Conquest. Being such a huge Apes fan, I was completely okay with Jaffa and Silver taking these liberties because the results were so damn entertaining and engrossing to watch as they unfolded.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)Serkis' portrayal of revolutionary chimp Caesar is truly a landmark performance that should hopefully garner the performance-capture actor some attention for his work. For years Serkis has been overlooked in his performance-capture work because the sticking point was that he actually needed to be the character we see on the screen, and in Rise WETA finally nailed down the technology allowing Serkis to perform his role alongside Franco, Lithgow and the rest of the human characters in the film so the Academy's excuses are no longer valid.

Hands down, Serkis deserves to take home some Oscar gold next year for his work in Rise because I guarantee you've never seen anything like what he delivers in this film. Remarkable and poignant don't even begin to describe it. It's something that needs to be seen to be believed.

If I have any issues with the film at all it is that the first act is a bit rushed, which leaves very little time for Franco to really make an impression. Lithgow is spot-on as usual (Does that guy ever give a bad performance? Not in my book!), and both Cox and Felton are great as the antagonists. Pinto left a very small impression on me as well, but I'm willing to overlook that because this move is more about Caesar than it is about the humans. Clearly, director Wyatt understood what fans want to see - apes taking over - so he doesn't do much in taking his time establishing his human characters at the beginning of Rise.

However, whatever may be lacking in the character development department, Wyatt makes up for with some spectacular action sequences as well as some pretty emotional moments among Will, Charles and Caesar because for as much as the story is about the destructive results of humans playing with the natural order of things, at the end of the day Rise of the Planet of the Apes is also a story about the relationships between fathers and sons and what it means to have to let go once they're no longer part of your world. So while there is plenty of action in Rise, you may just need to have a Kleenex or two on you just in case because things do get emotional from time to time.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the antidote to the bloated summer blockbusters that have been taking over our multiplexes these last several months. The film was definitely made with Planet of the Apes fans in mind, but there is still a lot to be enjoyed for the uninitiated audiences out there. Rise is a masterfully crafted sci-fi/horror adventure that has the power to draw you in with both a breathtaking action story as well as the heartfelt characters at the core, making it one of the strongest and most intelligent popcorn flicks of the year.

4 1/2 out of 5

Discuss Rise of the Planet of the Apes in the comments section below!


"Uncle Creepy just freely admitted you guys are not professional journalists with money, but in fact fanboys who "love" horror."

Where in that sentence does it mention bias? That is simply stating that you freely admit none of you are wealthy journalists and just fanboys. Taking a page from your own sensitive and defensive reply, you should've "read closely."

Now as for the bias, you can justify your ass-kissing bias towards your pals by saying "Uncle Creepy didn't review those movies" all you want (which I knew you guys would do). The very fact that anyone from Dread Central was connected to those praised and reviewed dvds is unethical and clearly shows your favoritism and bias, period.

What actually IS funny is that the only people defending your praise/bias is none other than only Dread Central staff itself. Or did you not "read closely" enough to notice?

I will laugh if after this post, magically all of a sudden there will be non-DC staff defending you guys.

If you're going to play "critics" you guys should learn to handle criticism better yourselves. I don't see any real horror industry folks jumping all over you when you DO slam their films.

Submitted by nancylives on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 1:18pm.
Sirand's picture

"The very fact that anyone from Dread Central was connected to those praised and reviewed dvds is unethical and clearly shows your favoritism and bias, period."

When operating a website, it's ALL or NOTHING. If you think the world of journalism is entirely disconnected from it's subjects, then you're living in a fantasy world. It's ALL connected because it's simply unavoidable. By even doing this job, a journalist becomes actively involved with the industry. They make friends, connections, and even influence how some films are made. This applies to every single website, magazine and news outlet you've ever read. And at no point has anyone here hid their connections. And regardless of these conspiracy theories, none of the opinions presented have been dishonest.

"What actually IS funny is that the only people defending your praise/bias is none other than only Dread Central staff itself. Or did you not "read closely" enough to notice?"

Maybe you should be the one to "read closely." Just a simple scroll down on this page has already proven you wrong.

"I don't see any real horror industry folks jumping all over you when you DO slam their films."

That's because you're not privy to the hate mail journalists often receive. Regardless, if you're a real professional working in the industry, you DON'T lash out to those who slam your work because you only make yourself look bad. That's just common sense.

I love how this entire debate has started over a positive review of one of the most well-reviewed movies of the year. So damn stupid.

Submitted by Sirand on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 2:03pm.

"Regardless, if you're a real professional working in the industry, you DON'T lash out to those who slam your work because you only make yourself look bad. That's just common sense."

How you can say that with a straight face in the same breath as "I love how this entire debate has started over a positive review of one of the most well-reviewed movies of the year. So damn stupid" is quite comical when the entire DC staff just took turns on here all defensive about a little criticism of your site. Your naivete won't let you see your blatant bias/favoritism, which is equal to horror magazines praising movies that advertise in the previous page.

I especially love how on one hand you're not journalists, but "fans of horror" and on the other hand, you're now journalists. Which is it? 'Cause you can't have it both ways.

I also love how you chalk up clear factual examples as "conspiracy theories."

You've only proven my point that DC cannot handle criticism themselves.

And no, this "entire debate" isn't about a well-reviewed movie. It's about your blatant see-through favoritism and bias. THAT is what's so damn stupid.

Submitted by nancylives on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 2:19pm.
Foywonder's picture

No, actually, this "entire debate" started over an anonymous poster accusing us of taking bribes in exchange for positive reviews sparked by their disbelief that we could post a rave review to a film that has been getting predominantly positive reviews. You, and for all we know you're the same exact person from last night, has now moved the football from taking kickbacks to showing favoritism. If it makes you feel any better I thought Hatchet II sucked.

Submitted by Foywonder on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 2:55pm.
Gareth Jones's picture

I figured I'd just come in and mention the whole Hatchet II thing, as it was also mentioned over on the Fangoria site how DC's review was "obviously" biased because Steve has a cameo yadda yadda yadda.

Well, I wrote that first review after seeing the film premiere at Frightfest in London and, likely because the boss folk here knew I'd be seeing it first, I had absolutely no idea Steve was in the film until he showed up on screen. I was as surprised as anyone to see his mug appear!

Did that influence my review? Did it fuck. In fact, as my review states, I wasn't even sure whether I was digging the flick that much until the moment Crowley appeared with the giant chainsaw -- then I just flipped. Those are my words, and they are my completely honest feelings about the flick. If people would rather not believe that, then that's their beef. Being called a liar by the ignorant is nothing new to any of us.

Still, I have every faith that the review would have run whether it was a 0 knife one, or a 5 knife one. My experience writing for this site has taught me nothing otherwise -- in fact, I've been tasked with reviewing films made by personal friends of Steve and Debi AND I'd savaged them. The filmmakers in question have also contacted me personally to thank me for the criticism in the most graceful manners possible.

It's called integrity, and it's very much alive at DC. There's responding to criticism, and taking it to heart in a positive manner but there's also calling out outright fallacy. I'm more than happy to do both.

Submitted by Gareth Jones on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 5:07pm.
Rottenjesus's picture

Re: To Nancylives

So are you and Blood Monster dating or something? It seems that you two share a shockingly similar opinion about DC.

In any case I've been hanging around Dread Central (and it's earlier incarnations) for a long damn time and these folks love their fucking horror and that's it. Yes they have biases and are predisposed to their favorite types of movies like anyone else. Accusing them of "selling out" is the most ridiculous thing I have heard in my life.

I have a lot of respect for Uncle Creepy, Foy and all the rest of the DC crew because they're fans of the same twisted shit that I love and they don't pretend to be anybody or anyone else. Hell, I don't agree with some of their reviews but that's life.

And you say you've lurked here a while and you're just NOW coming out of the woodwork? I'm not buying that line of bullshit, sister.

Submitted by Rottenjesus on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 2:57pm.

I don't really care what you "buy" or not, "sister." I'm not accusing Dread Central of selling out. I am actually ridiculing their rockstar "metal" claims of "not selling out." Anyone who talks like that is an asshole. As for your respect for Uncle Creepy and the crew, that's great for you. Thanks for sharing. They don't pretend to be anybody? ORLY? They go on and on and on all over twitter & fagbook pretending to be movers and shakers in the film industry. They are, like you all say, just "fans" of horror. And you're all correct. That's ALL they are. NO ONE in the industry knows them personally or truly hangs out with them when not at conventions to promote their films. Paying for a dealer's table at horror cons and standing around not being recognized means nothing. Any horror nerd with internet knowledge can slap a website together and pretend their opinions on movies matter. There are hundreds of horror sites out there and they don't pretend they are anything more. But Dread Central believes they are factors in the horror world and it is funny. Simply having a website does not equal success. Owning a home, paying your own bills, feeding and clothing your family, being able to retire with money and owning assets and investments = success. Being a man-child, living off your relatives, owning NOTHING of value, no assets, no savings, no home, your family taking care of you = failure. Pretending you are some "known" rockstar entity in the film business is NOTHING to brag about. It is pathetic.

Submitted by nancylives on Sun, 08/07/2011 - 2:11pm.
Rottenjesus's picture

Jealousy and delusion are not attractive qualities. If you actually had any "balls" you'd actually post with your name and the site/forum you came from since it's pretty obvious you and B.M. are from the same place and hold some kind of grudge against DC and the people who run it.

Out of all the horror sites out there DREAD CENTRAL is the only one I visit on a daily basis because of people like Steve, Buz, Andrew, Foy, Sirand and the rest that provide unique takes on horror that are interesting and unique. There's no other horror site that has the no-bullshit coverage that DC does and they certainly don't have anything like the DINNER FOR FIENDS podcast.

So why don't you just get the fuck out of here before I come over there and slap B.M.'s tiny dick out of your mouth.

Submitted by Rottenjesus on Sun, 08/07/2011 - 6:06pm.
nazo's picture

*grabs popcorn*

Submitted by nazo on Sun, 08/07/2011 - 4:34pm.
NYC-Hearts's picture

If we're going to talk about people being "pathetic," honestly, can their alleged failings result in a state of being that is any more "pathetic" than that of a person who tries to pick a fight...on the internet...in a comments section...on a horror film website...about whether staff members are "metal" or "sellouts" or "known" and the alleged pretences related to that? AND then said person apparently creates a new alias to continue the good fight (i'm taking the bold leap of deduction that person on pages 1 and 2 of the comments page are the same awesome, successful, clever, person--I'm smart like that).

I appreciate that your trolling is simply the natural thing to do when one is a "success[ful]" person like you...but, surely, in the back of your mind, as you drift to sleep at the end of another successful day, there has to be at least a passing recogniton of how pathetic you actually are...

Submitted by NYC-Hearts on Sun, 08/07/2011 - 3:41pm.
Sirand's picture

Little do readers know that I gave sexual favors and gold bullions to Matt Fini for his positive review of "Never Sleep Again."

Submitted by Sirand on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 3:50pm.
Rottenjesus's picture

More like "Never Sit Again". Poor Matt. :(

Submitted by Rottenjesus on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 4:14pm.
Sirand's picture


Submitted by Sirand on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 4:25pm.
Matt Serafini's picture

I loved it, Sirand. The movie and the favors. I mean, just the movie!

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 6:00pm.
Matt Serafini's picture

To be honest, I'm stunned by these good reviews here and everywhere else.

There isn't a single, solitary frame of any one of the ROTPOTA trailers that generated even a spark of interest for me.

Oh well, I guess I'll catch this on Netflix to see what the hype is all about.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 9:37am.
Sirand's picture

The reviews are warranted: It's the best summer movie, hands down.

Why are you so wary about this one movie yet so quick to gobble down shit like "Cowboys & Aliens?"

Submitted by Sirand on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 11:47am.
Matt Serafini's picture

In the instance of the two films mentioned, I'd been excited for Cowboys as a fan of westerns, a fan of the two main stars and the combination of western/sci-fi/horror.

By the same coin, I only recently saw the original Planet of the Apes so I have no long-term association to the franchise, and I hate Franco. And the trailers didn't do a damn thing for me. Scientist comes up with a cure for some disease, tests it on an ape, it gets smart and they fight to liberate themselves from mankind. Eh, just feel like I've seen it before.

I have nothing against the film personally and I may try and catch it next weekend but I won't go out of my way for it. My first post was just intended to illustrate my shock and surprise at the warm reception.

Submitted by Matt Serafini on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 5:58pm.

I only saw the original once and I vaguely remember it. I'd consider myself a casual fan at best. I too came to hate Franco after Spider-Man 3. Funnily enough, he's not that bad in this one. The apes are the true stars of the film though; and they all have very distinct personalities that differentiate each other. Yes, the plot does mirror Deep Blue Sea. Thankfully though LL Cool J and his bird are nowhere to be seen!

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 10:36pm.
Sirand's picture

Franco is amazing when cast right (see: 127 Hours)

Submitted by Sirand on Sun, 08/07/2011 - 1:29am.

Let's get things back on track. ROTPOTA is the best film I've seen all summer! If WETA can create CGI creatures this realistically now, I can't wait to see what they'll have in store for us in a few years! Believe the hype and get your ass to the theater!

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 10:30pm.
moderator Amen. Just got back from the
Debi Moore's picture

Amen. Just got back from the theatre, and I STILL can't believe what I saw was all CGI, especially the orangutan and gorilla ... and Caesar of course. Serkis is amazing! The story, while predictable, is emotional and perfectly in tune with our society these days. I laughed, I cried (especially when Lithgow was onscreen), and I cheered for those damn dirty apes every step of the way! Not sure if it's quite worthy of being called a masterpiece, but it is my favorite movie of the summer, possibly the year. Bring on ROTPOTA II!

Submitted by Debi Moore on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 8:39pm.
admin moderator You won't "seem" such amateur
Jon Condit's picture

You won't "seem" such amateur journalism anywhere else either.

Submitted by Jon Condit on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 6:00pm.
Blood Monster's picture

Wow. Dread Central really will give anything a positive review. I kept hearing folks at my forum complain about the review staff at DC, but obviously I had to check it out myself to confirm. I shouldn't have doubted them. I have never seem such amateur journalism in my entire life.

Submitted by Blood Monster on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 5:37pm.
LifeMi's picture

You obviously never read most of Foy's reviews.

Submitted by LifeMi on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 6:33pm.
Steve Barton's picture

Dude. We give out bad reviews all of the time. Much more so than positive. Have you even seen this movie? We're far from the only one with a positive review.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 5:45pm.
Blood Monster's picture

The rumor going around the industry is that DC will submit positive reviews for shitty films if there is a belief that the positive review will get them something. I feel that this has to be addressed. As a professional journalist, I am dedicated to a higher standard. It really bothers me because of my passion for the genre and my drive to always do the right thing, even if it means backlash from those I might know personally from the industry.

Submitted by Blood Monster on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 8:32pm.

I believe you meant to address this to Harry Knowles on Ain't it Cool News.

Submitted by LSD Zombie on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 12:24am.
moderator LOL Dude. We tried selling
Steve Barton's picture

LOL Dude. We tried selling out. No one was buying so we continue to do our own thing in the interest of SCIENCE. Being "in the industry" I'm fairly certain we would have heard about said rumor by now. If only as a joke. Believe me when I tell you no one who works for DC is rich and we get or nor do we give any special treatment. We do this because we love this shit. Plain and simple. Yes, that has lead to some success, if that's what you want to call it for us, so of course some people will try, do, and say anything that they can to slander us. We expect it. It's kool and the gang, baby. Do what you will. We're confident in what we do and know why we do it.

Are we professional journalists? Not to my knowledge. There's not a single journalism major on staff that I know about, and if there is - bless you for slumming it with us. We are just horror fans. Period. However even being just fans we know better than to go other people's sites and try to passive aggressively harass them in the guise of "fighting the good fight". That's just not very professional.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 9:34pm.
Blood Monster's picture

I never said you were rich. The horror circle isn't all that big, so trust me when I say I never thought you were rich. That isn't the point, though. I simply brought to attention the rumor that you post dishonest reviews because you think it might get you some free DVDs or somehow form alliances with low-tier filmmakers. I understand that kind of stuff happens, but when it infriges on journalistic integrity, I feel compelled to say something. You may not be a professional journalist. I am. If you have honest feedback on other sites, by all means you should feel free to express it. Contrary to your claim, checks and balances can and do work in regard to criticism. I would suggest you simply review your own policies and be honest with yourselves. That's what this is all about, Steve.

Submitted by Blood Monster on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 10:07pm.
Steve Barton's picture

For a professional journalist you sure seem a bit in the dark as to the way that things work within the industry.

"You think it might get you some free DVDs"

Umm regardless of what we say about a movie DVD's are ALWAYS shipped to us for review. We're inundated with them. There's no such thing as bad publicity for people. You mention something, good or bad, it still gives them exposure.

"or somehow form alliances with low-tier filmmakers."

First of all, there's no such thing as low-tier filmmakers. The horror genre has been built on the backs of indie filmmakers since its inception. The mainstream has frowned upon horror just as long. Everyone had to start somewhere, including Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, etc. We try and help get indie filmmakers as much exposure as possible and even go so far as to put aside an entire month showcasing their work. It's not called "Building an Alliance" it's called PROMOTING THE GENRE.

I don't have to give feedback on other sites because honestly? I only worry about my own backyard. Everyone else is free to run their business any way that they see fit. I am no one to judge them. Whatever works for someone, works!

Thanks for all the enlightenment, though. Much appreciated.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 10:22pm.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.