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!


Blood Monster's picture

I am perfectly aware how everything works, but thanks for the dig. The key to success is to simply check your ego at the door and make sure your motives are in the right place. Your whole "career" has been all about burning bridges wherever you go. Do you not think maybe your plan is flawed? There is more to it than just getting free handouts and indiscriminately kissing ass. I tell you this because what you are accused of doing truly bothers me. It is not good for the industry, regardless of your claims. I think you get the point and I hope you can give an honest assessment of your actions.

Submitted by Blood Monster on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 10:38pm.
Sirand's picture

"I have never seem such amateur journalism in my entire life."

Thank you, Anonymous "Industry Man" (and spelling wizard) for telling everyone here how it works. I hope you're giving the same lecture to the 114 other critics who raved about this film on Rotten Tomatoes, seeing as how your opinion (on a film you obviously haven't seen) is the true barometer of taste and journalistic integrity.

In one sentence you say DC is "kissing-ass" then suddenly they're "burning bridges." Which is it? I would think that someone with a journalistic background would know how to form a coherent argument...or at least have better things to do within their profession than troll talkback forums.

When you're finished, please post a link to your Pulitzer-worthy blog... cause I'd love to read how a "real" critical mind thinks.

Submitted by Sirand on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 11:39am.
Blood Monster's picture

You need to slow down and read what I wrote. I said that DC is kissing-ass, and that Steve Creepy has "burned bridges" everywhere he has gone. Obviously his time at DC is not yet over, but if historical routine is any indicator, it will come soon. Please don't let your lack of elementary comprehension skills deflect from the real issues brought out here. You won't win a battle of words against me. That I can guarantee you, so quit trying to nitpick (incorrectly I might add) and let's get into the meat of the accusations against you and the rest of Dread Central.

What is your basis for arrogance? What have you done to believe you are even notable within our industry? You need notable credentials to get respect in this game, kiddo.

Submitted by Blood Monster on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 8:16pm.
moderator "You need to slow down and
Steve Barton's picture

"You need to slow down and read what I wrote. I said that DC is kissing-ass, and that Steve Creepy has "burned bridges" everywhere he has gone."

I'm a Firestarter! *does crazy techno dance*

"Obviously his time at DC is not yet over, but if historical routine is any indicator, it will come soon."

Being that I own DC along with my two partners ... I've often thought of firing myself.

"What have you done to believe you are even notable within our industry?"

If you're talking about Andrew he only co-directed the biggest, most successful, Saturn Award Winning documentary our genre has ever seen.

If you're talking about me ...

One time I whittled an extremely impressive tiny wooden bust of Little Richard. True that wasn't within the industry but that shit was wicked awesome.

That being said ... given this recent comment in particular this smells like one of my biggest fans back under a different name. A very familiar rider on my Testicle Express™.

*continues doing zany techno dance*

Submitted by Steve Barton on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 8:27pm.
Blood Monster's picture

Another professional response. Failure to take criticism won't get you anywhere. You want so bad to be in this industry, but you fail to put in the work and learn how to behave appropriately. Watching TV, eating junk food, and playing video games isn't work. Your twitter feed is full of that crap. How do you expect anyone to take you seriously when you post 20 times about eating and playing with your xbox then 5 minutes later complain about how busy you are? Do you think people actually believe you are a busy person? Busy people don't eat junk food and play video games all day every day.

Submitted by Blood Monster on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 10:33pm.
moderator Ladies and Gentleman ... my
Steve Barton's picture

Ladies and Gentleman ... my biographer.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 10:59pm.
Rottenjesus's picture

Creepy, don't you see? He's the Peck to your Venkman!

It's pretty obvious that B.M. has no dick at this point.

Submitted by Rottenjesus on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 11:49pm.
Pestilence's picture

As Foy has mentioned, ROTPOTA has received mostly positive reviews already -- even from some of the most cynical critics I know. So, I have no doubt whatsoever that it's worth seeing.

Do you perhaps have a link to your own professional negative review of the film? Have you seen it? If not, then I don't think your initial comment here holds any water whatsoever.

Oh, and if there's one thing I know about the people writing for this site, myself included, it's that we will never, EVER, sell out our integrity for a few freebies. That's called being an ASSHOLE, and is a betrayal of every single thing that we stand for, and that our readers and fans deserve.

Creepy does burn bridges, though. I invited him over to the UK and the first thing the fucker did was burn the bridge over my moat. Left us stranded in my castle for FOUR DAYS before my Knights returned! Never having him back, let me tell you...

Submitted by Pestilence on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 6:04am.
Foywonder's picture

I can't believe the catalyst for all this is a rave review of one of the best reviewed movies of the summer. 80% positive on Rotten Tomatoes... They must have given out a lot of free DVDs to garner that score.

Submitted by Foywonder on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 1:48am.
moderator As someone who really DOES
Sifu Scott's picture

As someone who really DOES have an actual degree in journalism from an actual university, my learned opinion is that you, sir, are a troll. The fact of the matter is, a "professional" journalist, while thinking whatever he likes, will never go to another group's site and stir up trouble without having the sack to post under his real name. Call it "professionalism." Call it "ethics." Call it whatever you like, but, in this case, you've proven yourself to be nothing but a troll. We give nothing but good reviews in hopes of receiving free shit? Seriously? You haven't clue one what you're talking about. Sure, like any news site, we hype what we're sent and what's deemed newsworthy. But when it comes to reviews, we call it as we see it. If RotPotA was too "lowbrow" for you, feel free to go back to the dark, smoke-filled art-film theater you came from and enjoy watching whatever you enjoy. Give it whatever marks you want. You won't find us on your site proclaiming how big a tool you are. Thanks to your unprofessional rant here, we all know.

Submitted by Sifu Scott on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 12:44am.
moderator That was a dig? Oh what a
Steve Barton's picture

That was a dig? Oh what a monster I am. And of course this has totally devolved into me "burning bridges" where ever I go and so on and so forth, because you know, I'm such a bad guy. You're entitled to your opinion, dude. No worries.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 12:38am.
The Buz's picture

Maybe ROTPOTA is just good?

Also, where'd you study? What network, news source, website do you work at as a professional journalist?

Submitted by The Buz on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 11:50pm.
admin moderator How about not hiding behind a
Jon Condit's picture

How about not hiding behind a username while making wild accusations and spreading "rumors"? Or did you just come here to stir the pot? If so thanks for the extra traffic.

Submitted by Jon Condit on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 11:42pm.
nazo's picture

Eh, I've noticed, after reading the site for a while, that some of your reviewers seem to have pretty high standards. Others seem to give out four stars to anything and everything they see.

I give it more weight when someone who is harder to please really likes a movie, especially once I know what kinds of movies they favor, because there's a greater chance it'll be something special, and I'll be rewarded for taking the time and money to track it down. (For instance, when Foy got really excited about Rare Exports last year, it got me intrigued, and I ended up loving that movie when I finally saw it.)

Submitted by nazo on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 7:05pm.
moderator Absolutely. Everyone is
Steve Barton's picture

Absolutely. Everyone is different and shares different opinions. Reviews aren't meant to be gospel they're meant to be guidelines. Ultimately only you know what you're going to like.

Submitted by Steve Barton on Fri, 08/05/2011 - 7:33pm.
Vanvance1's picture

Years of reading this site has convinced me that the reviews are simply the opinions of the reviewers without outside interference or motivations.

The trick is learning which reviewers have tastes that mirror your own. Those are the people who's opinions carry weight with me.

Submitted by Vanvance1 on Sat, 08/06/2011 - 6:25am.

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