Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes


Plot: Will Rodman (James Franco) is a San Francisco scientist who has been trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by testing a genetically engineered retrovirus on chimpanzees. The virus mutates the chimpanzees, giving them a human level of intelligence. One of his test subjects, a female chimpanzee, goes on a rampage because she believes her baby, to whom she secretly gave birth, is threatened. She is killed after disrupting a board meeting. Will’s boss Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) orders subordinate Robert Franklin (Tyler Labine) to put all the test chimpanzees down, but he cannot bring himself to kill the chimpanzee’s baby, and instead gives him to Will, who names him Caesar (Andy Serkis) and raises him in his house. Caesar has inherited his mother’s high intelligence, and learns quickly.

Will gives a sample of his cure to his father, Charles (John Lithgow), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. At first, his father improves but later his body’s immune system fights off the virus and his dementia returns. In his dementia, Charles gets into his neighbor’s car and damages it, angering the neighbor (David Hewlett). As he threatens Charles and pushes him down, the onlooking Caesar attacks him. After the incident, Caesar is forced to leave Will’s house and is held in a San Bruno primate facility run by John Landon (Brian Cox). The apes are treated cruelly by Landon’s son Dodge (Tom Felton) who works as a guard there. Caesar is initially treated poorly by both the staff and the other apes. When Dodge brings his friends into the facility, one of them gets too close to Caesar’s cage and is grabbed by Caesar, who steals his pocket knife, later using it to escape his cell. Caesar then frees a gorilla and, with his help, gains dominance over the other apes.

Review: I didn’t really know what to expect when I was walking into the theater, but I knew that I was excited that I might be seeing a really awesome movie. I only really paid this movie any attention after the first trailer was released a few months ago, and I was quickly enamored. The performance of Andy Serkis was immediately the centerpiece of the movie, with the creepy physical nuances and traits that his character would emote by a look or gesture. It seemed that technology could finally create a Planet of the Apes movie that I would actually be interested in watching, and man was I right.

There were a few things that immediately caught my attention and one of my favorites was James Franco. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I watched his character like a hawk looking for a chink in his armor to exploit. I didn’t find one. He plays a scientist and my thought was that the guy who made me lament Harry Osborn couldn’t possible be able to pull off a convincing scientist, could he? He did. He really did. It’s moreso out of some of the motivation that the character has to succeed in his science with his father succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease and his semblence of a normal life deteriorating at any given moment, it not only helped propel Franco’s character as a scientist but also as a son opposite John Lithgow.

The performance from Lithgow could have easily been a sticking point for this movie. It’s his characters’ well-being that motivates both Franco and the, astonishingly intelligent, chimpanzee known as Caesar to take up their own individual causes and initial motivations for their goals. His performance could have easily done damage if not accepted by audiences and was the “make or break” for the entire first act of the movie. Lithgow delivered and presented a character that an audience truly “followed” and empathized for as we saw his mind deteriorate due to the disease.

The other, more obvious, delimiter for this movie had to be the performance of the apes. Andy Serkis is creepy. I know, I just blurted that out but when in the theater and sitting amongst a sea of people exclaiming “ooh’s” and “oh shit!”s left and right, I tend to believe I’m not alone with that knee jerk statement and reaction. Caesar is something to witness as he communicates in a way that’s primal yet unnervingly human. I know I’ve already mentioned this plenty, but the mannerisms really help immerse yourself in the spectacle of witnessing the increasing intelligence of Caesar.

Overall: The movie is awesome. I really enjoyed the 3rd act of the movie which showcased the expected “Rise” of the apes. Franco and Lithgow presented characters that audiences can humanize with and appreciably moved the movie along at a steady pace without too much faltering or detraction. There’s a pre-requisite love story that occurs in the movie as well but it wasnt somethign that was a detriment to the overall film, or even a significant distraction. The star of this film is Caesar, plain and simple and and no amount of humans or love stories diminish this film or seq from the overall focal point. Caesar has arrived, and he does not disappoint.

I give Rise of the Planet of the Apes an 8 out of 10.

**Originally posted on Goosenips

About Anthony Whyte

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35 thoughts on “Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

  1. the rise of the planet of the apes was a incredible packed movie including evolution it was great action packed movie got to be the best planet of the apes yet

  2. I found this movie to be extremely well made; the plot was one step above and beyond what I was expecting and had my attention in full the entire duration of the movie.
    Planet of the apes one was revolutionary for the time and “The Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is extremely revolutionary in this day for reasons being:
    • WETA Digital’s special effects bringing Caesar to life in ways much like Avatar
    • The concept of drug induced intelligence (a popular plot line in modern films)
    The movie’s ending was also very inspiring but left a slight question in the viewer’s mind, what happens next? An opening for another ape filled movie? Possibly.

  3. From Charlton Heston to Mathew Broderick and Mark Wahlberg ,apes pictures are just not my cup of tea.
    Call me old fashion but any pictures that include dOGS,cATS,hORSES,bIRDS and the whole barn as TALENT is just plain entertainment.Not that there is anything wrong with it but personally I need acting,scripts,dialogues between actors such as Inglorious Bastards,On the water front,the shawshank redemption and so on..
    But again just who am I to decide what’s good or Bad,,It’s a good thing you’re there for us Anthony,Great review,Great job.
    many thx

  4. I loved the movie a lot. It means a lot to me to be able to see people who give good reviews on movies. I’ve been into a lot of movies and the critics in the news papers are not always right. I usually see every movie that comes out, weather I want to or not but I’m glad they remade this movie it was very good. Almost as good as warrior and super 8

  5. I really enjoyed this movie. Yeah it was predictable, but it does a nice job of addressing ethical issues such as where does one place research boundaries. Chimpanzees are close to humans, but as the movie addresses, they are not humans and medical treatments may not respond the same way. I really sympathize with Rodman’s situation, but for all of those animal lovers out there, we do have to consider how captivity and treatment affects them. This of course reminded me of Dr. Dolittle.

  6. If the Academy won’t give Andy Serkis an acting nomination/recognition for his work on this movie, I am very sure there will be other award-giving bodies that will do just that. Andy Serkis deserves recognition for his tour-de-force portrayal as Caesar .

  7. I’d have given it 10/10.
    Perhaps it’s because other summer films set the bar so low, but for me, this was a mind-blowing-tour-de-force. And I went into this thing wanting to hate it (the profound piece of shit that was Tim Burton’s version still haunts me). Unlike every other “big” movie I’ve seen in the last year, this one actually seemed to care about having a solid script.
    What would they have had to do to push it up the other two points?

  8. I didn’t really find any of the actors’ performances outstanding and the ending, the whole plot actually, was a real let-down for me: nothing really happens but the monkeys getting to the forest (a whole movie for that really?). Andy Serkis did do a great job as Caesar, but I think Oscar-talk is going overboard.

    1. This movie was made with fans of the series in mind. Obviously you are eluding to the fact that you have not seen the other films in the series or you don’t understand what happened. Also how is the Oscar talk over board. Literally I seen people crying in the audience over his movement that they captured. How is the plot a big let down especially in this day in age where technology is slowly taking us away from our animal instincts on a emotional level. For you to miss that is pretty dumb founding.

      1. I have seen previous movies from the Planet of the Apes franchise, and some I really enjoyed even without the advanced special effects we have today. I also understand that they’re setting this up for future movies in explaining how and why the “rise” of the apes began, but I feel this movie doesn’t stand on its own. The script was pretty disappointing, and only the CGI was well-done. Maybe I’m looking for too much out of a summer blockbluster (a remake at that) but I came out of the theatre thoroughly disappointed.

    2. I completely agree with you Andrew. Unfortunately, my dislike of this predictable movie was not met with any positive comments. The fact that I choose not to follow the “formula” of every reviewer they’ve seen before doesn’t make it bad, it makes it different.

      Give me a movie that doesn’t make me look at my watch every few minutes, or lean over to my friends and tell them what’s about to happen. I prefer the suprise element. I found it beyond boring, special effects aside.

  9. This is a great review, I am just skeptical on the movie. Hasn’t there been about four too many Planet of the Apes movies out. Seen one, seen them all. The review could lead me to see the movie though.

  10. Thank you a “proper” review Anthony and yes, the film is awesome. I NEARLY didn’t go to watch this film on the back of previous comments, would of been a shame :o(

  11. ^^Agreed with the other guys. Bummed when I saw Rodney had left. If I wanted to read uninspired amateur reviews I’d look at the local newspaper.

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