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Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Aug. 4, 2011by: Chris Bumbray

PLOT: Will Rodman (James Franco), a brilliant young scientist, invents a formula that could cure Alzheimers, but after a botched experiment on a Chimpanzee, his project is shut down, but not before discovering that his ape subject had a son whos showing signs of super-intelligence. Will takes the Chimp, who he names Caesar, home to his Alzheimers afflicted father (John Lithgow), and together they raise him as part of the family. When a misunderstanding with a violent neighbor leads to Caesars imprisonment in an Ape preserve run by a cruel zookeeper (Brian Cox) and his son (Tom Felton), the seeds are planted for the eventual Ape revolution, which will one day lead to the enslavement of mankind.

REVIEW: First things first: forget Tim Burtons awful PLANET OF THE APES remake from ten years ago. Just pretend it doesnt exist, which is what the filmmakers behind RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (still an awkward title) seem to be doing, with loads of hints liberally sprinkled throughout the film that this is in fact a prequel to the 1968 Charlton Heston-starring classic.


This is welcome news to me, as I have a real soft spot for the original PLANET OF THE APES series. While only the first film could really be called a classic, each of the films is entertaining in their own right. One of the better films, CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is obviously the main influence on RISE, although its not a remake. The only elements that are really used are Caesar, the super-intelligent chimp, and the eventual uprising, which is depicted in a less cartoonish manner here (no submachine gun wielding Apes...yet).

Overall, I really liked RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, although I have a few sticking points which Ill get to later. Its actually a fairly intelligent re-imagining of the series, with the idea that a serum designed to cure Alzheimers sowed the seeds of the revolution. As they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions, and this idea seemed like a truly inspired way to tell this particular tale.


Probably the thing most people will come out of RISE talking about is the incredible CGI work by Weta, with most of the Apes looking almost disconcertingly real. Its notoriously hard to animate fur, but they did a phenomenal job, and it seems unimaginable to me that this wont win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects (made even more impressive by the fact that this reportedly cost a reasonable $90 million, cheap for summer blockbuster standards). The motion capture-work that allows Andy Serkis to play Caesar is revolutionary, and despite being unrecognizable and dialogue-free, one never doubts that Caesar is as much Serkis creation as Weta, which is as good an example of CGI being used to enhance rather than dominate a performance as I can imagine.

I also really appreciated the gem of a performance given by John Lithgow as Francos Alzheimers afflicted father, which is very affecting and believable. While he hasnt got a ton of screen time, in just a few brief scenes Lithgow manages to convey the heart-break of a once-brilliant man slowly losing himself to dementia, and the relationship between him and Caesar is my favorite part of the film.


That said, there are a few things about the film that stuck in my craw a bit. For one thing, Franco just phones in his performance. I have no doubt that hes a great actor, but hes doing the same thing Edward Norton was doing a few years ago, in that they're brilliant in their indie work (127 HOURS for Franco, 25TH HOUR for Norton), but lousy in big-budget mainstream stuff (this for Franco, ITALIAN JOB for Norton). Luckily, this is Caesar/Serkis film all the way and Francos merely a supporting player.

It also annoyed me that the film had a few messy plot holes, especially as far as Brian Coxs character goes, with him re-appearing and disappearing at random throughout the film. The shout-out to the 1968 APES film also gets a bit grating, with all of the catch-phrases being repeated at one point or another, sometimes in obnoxious ways.

Those issues aside, I really enjoyed RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, and Im pleased to have this be a viable franchise again. I hope this is the beginning of a new APES series, as theres a lot of potential here for the series to grow.

Extra Tidbit: Make sure to stick around for the end credits.
Source: JoBlo.com

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10:27PM on 08/07/2011
This movie rocks and is way cooler than you think. Check out my full review here: [link]
This movie rocks and is way cooler than you think. Check out my full review here: [link]
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7:52PM on 08/07/2011
Awesome prequel. Rise's CGI will win an award I have no doubt. And for the question of how come the monkeys don't talk. Caesar very clearly yells NO! Towards the end of the movie. I thought it was just implied that they were becoming smart enough to learn English.
Awesome prequel. Rise's CGI will win an award I have no doubt. And for the question of how come the monkeys don't talk. Caesar very clearly yells NO! Towards the end of the movie. I thought it was just implied that they were becoming smart enough to learn English.
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11:17PM on 08/05/2011
Absolutely loved this movie, forgiving minor flaws that I found in the movie. Interestingly (but expected), the negative comments on here are from peeps who haven't seen the movie.
Absolutely loved this movie, forgiving minor flaws that I found in the movie. Interestingly (but expected), the negative comments on here are from peeps who haven't seen the movie.
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2:30PM on 08/05/2011
Not interested in this at all. The trailer does nothing for me; monkeys are crap, let alone CGI monkeys. Have we learned nothing from Indy 4?
Not interested in this at all. The trailer does nothing for me; monkeys are crap, let alone CGI monkeys. Have we learned nothing from Indy 4?
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6:32PM on 08/05/2011
you didn`t see the movie, yet you complain to how bad it is:)))
you didn`t see the movie, yet you complain to how bad it is:)))
1:23PM on 08/05/2011
wow was totally cheering for the apes i mean who couldve imagined a film being dumped in august would be so great. i hope they continue and make a follow up sequel, this is definitely one of the best film this summer. hail caesar !
wow was totally cheering for the apes i mean who couldve imagined a film being dumped in august would be so great. i hope they continue and make a follow up sequel, this is definitely one of the best film this summer. hail caesar !
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8:18AM on 08/05/2011
One of the best surprises of the season. I liked the references to the Icarus mission.
And don't worry about the "few apes against billions of humans" problem, they have a logical and believable enough explanation.
One of the best surprises of the season. I liked the references to the Icarus mission.
And don't worry about the "few apes against billions of humans" problem, they have a logical and believable enough explanation.
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4:40AM on 08/05/2011
I thoroughly enjoyed it, one of the best I saw this summer. Totally rooted for the apes, too :) I think people will be pleasantly surprised by this film.
I thoroughly enjoyed it, one of the best I saw this summer. Totally rooted for the apes, too :) I think people will be pleasantly surprised by this film.
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2:16AM on 08/05/2011
Am I the only one who liked Tim Burton's Planet of The Apes? I thought it was a pretty good movie. Anyway, I really hope this one is great cause I love the Apes movies.
Am I the only one who liked Tim Burton's Planet of The Apes? I thought it was a pretty good movie. Anyway, I really hope this one is great cause I love the Apes movies.
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-14
12:25AM on 08/05/2011
never really been into this franchise much & think they are just a poor excuse at being political.
never really been into this franchise much & think they are just a poor excuse at being political.
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6:35PM on 08/05/2011
then why are you posting at this article if you don`t have intention to see the movie? yeah, you try to act cool :)))) fail
then why are you posting at this article if you don`t have intention to see the movie? yeah, you try to act cool :)))) fail
-22
12:11AM on 08/05/2011
am i the only one that watched the trailer and thought the effects were astoundingly BAD? what's gotten into everybody?
am i the only one that watched the trailer and thought the effects were astoundingly BAD? what's gotten into everybody?
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8:14AM on 08/05/2011
Don't worry, the final effects are great !
Don't worry, the final effects are great !
+12
9:37PM on 08/04/2011
For me this was the best "summer" movie of the summer beating out X-Men. Most if not all of the logical questions I had about the flick and that I have seen in the comments below were addressed skillfully enough in the film for me to accept it. I'm looking forward to see where a hopefully new series goes from here.
For me this was the best "summer" movie of the summer beating out X-Men. Most if not all of the logical questions I had about the flick and that I have seen in the comments below were addressed skillfully enough in the film for me to accept it. I'm looking forward to see where a hopefully new series goes from here.
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8:06PM on 08/04/2011
I love how apes + increased intelligence = unstopable force, instead of just a less capable version of people. I want to see how this thing ends.
I love how apes + increased intelligence = unstopable force, instead of just a less capable version of people. I want to see how this thing ends.
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9:25PM on 08/04/2011
Ha, I love it.
Ha, I love it.
1:37AM on 08/05/2011
I know, but what can you do, Fail of the Apes just wouldn't have been as good.
I know, but what can you do, Fail of the Apes just wouldn't have been as good.
7:24PM on 08/04/2011

Wasn't sure...

About seeing this one in theaters. Just something about it screamed at me that I'd be mad at myself for blowing the money to see it on the big screen. I have been intrigued by it, if only cause of Franco and Lithgow, who earned a place in my heart for his role as The Trinity Killer ... but eh.

But this and The Arrow saying he dug it? Looking more like I may have to check it out on Sunday during a matinee.
About seeing this one in theaters. Just something about it screamed at me that I'd be mad at myself for blowing the money to see it on the big screen. I have been intrigued by it, if only cause of Franco and Lithgow, who earned a place in my heart for his role as The Trinity Killer ... but eh.

But this and The Arrow saying he dug it? Looking more like I may have to check it out on Sunday during a matinee.
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6:33PM on 08/04/2011
I know I'll get a lot of flack for this, but I still can't for the life of me understand the concept of a few thousand apes defeating man's arsenal of weaponry and sheer force with spears and other weaponry created from various items in the world.

It's just beyond ridiculous. Maybe that's the point. But I keep getting the awful feeling it's beyond suspension of disbelief when you see the military and armed forces with GUNS unable to defeat apes with spears? Come on.....how is this
I know I'll get a lot of flack for this, but I still can't for the life of me understand the concept of a few thousand apes defeating man's arsenal of weaponry and sheer force with spears and other weaponry created from various items in the world.

It's just beyond ridiculous. Maybe that's the point. But I keep getting the awful feeling it's beyond suspension of disbelief when you see the military and armed forces with GUNS unable to defeat apes with spears? Come on.....how is this "brilliant"? It's so moronically flawed. It feels like an idiot's proclamation that an idea of this magnitude was "brilliant". I can't take a premise serious that wants me to believe a few hundred (possibly thousand) monkeys annihilate humanity with sticks and stones.

It's just such a waste of resources too that WETA Digital contributed to this. No matter how technically proficient or marvelous the CGI may be (I personally think it looks hilarious more than intimidating), it doesn't excuse itself from the ridiculous premise.

The original served as a terrifying, twist of a story at at time when it was also a very unconventional concept. Now they've just ruined the imagination of the original.
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7:14PM on 08/04/2011
Completely agree.
Completely agree.
8:33PM on 08/04/2011
Thank you! There's only like 400 gorillas alive and so many chimps, monkeys etc. This premise is stupid and no matter how technically good the film is I'll never be able to get over the stupid concept.
Thank you! There's only like 400 gorillas alive and so many chimps, monkeys etc. This premise is stupid and no matter how technically good the film is I'll never be able to get over the stupid concept.
2:47AM on 08/05/2011
That was my biggest problem when i first saw the trailer too. I thought it would have been way more believable if the ape had somehow turned people against each other first by starting WW3 somehow. idk maybe getting nuclear launch codes or something. Then had moved in with the apes to take over.
That was my biggest problem when i first saw the trailer too. I thought it would have been way more believable if the ape had somehow turned people against each other first by starting WW3 somehow. idk maybe getting nuclear launch codes or something. Then had moved in with the apes to take over.
8:11AM on 08/05/2011
MAYBE A SPOILER,but...

The answer to your complain is in the extra tidbit...
MAYBE A SPOILER,but...

The answer to your complain is in the extra tidbit...
1:37PM on 08/05/2011
Agree.
Agree.
+2
5:19PM on 08/04/2011

I keep hearing great things

This was the film I was least interested in watching this year - how things change... Really looking forward to it now
This was the film I was least interested in watching this year - how things change... Really looking forward to it now
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4:31PM on 08/04/2011
I'm really surprised by this review. Even though I usually trust your opinion this will still be a rental for me. Interesting there's no monkey-speak, if it's a prequel I wonder how the apes are suddenly able to talk?
I'm really surprised by this review. Even though I usually trust your opinion this will still be a rental for me. Interesting there's no monkey-speak, if it's a prequel I wonder how the apes are suddenly able to talk?
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4:33PM on 08/04/2011
It's actually right in line with what Cornelius explained to Heston in the original film.
It's actually right in line with what Cornelius explained to Heston in the original film.
7:15PM on 08/04/2011
I might wait until it's on tv.
I might wait until it's on tv.
7:48PM on 08/07/2011
Not sure how people are getting away with saying that the monkeys don't talk. Caesar's first line in the movie gave me goosebumps. One simple word.
Not sure how people are getting away with saying that the monkeys don't talk. Caesar's first line in the movie gave me goosebumps. One simple word.
4:02PM on 08/04/2011

So do they address the fact that there aren't that many monkeys on Earth?

Or is that just science'd away?
Or is that just science'd away?
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3:53PM on 08/04/2011
But that's the thing Chris, Franco isn't a great actor. He tries really hard to be a good actor but he's just not.

Hell, I like the guy and I enjoy watching him in films but he's just not a good actor.
But that's the thing Chris, Franco isn't a great actor. He tries really hard to be a good actor but he's just not.

Hell, I like the guy and I enjoy watching him in films but he's just not a good actor.
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12:23AM on 08/05/2011
it's funny how yur replies here are almost like you know the people on joblo personally
it's funny how yur replies here are almost like you know the people on joblo personally
1:38AM on 08/05/2011
Meh, maybe I've just been reading articles here for too many years. :/

Not that that's a bad thing. ;)
Meh, maybe I've just been reading articles here for too many years. :/

Not that that's a bad thing. ;)
3:26PM on 08/04/2011
So how is this film compared to the other summer blockbusters alot of the early reviews were saying this was the best blockbuster of the summer. Where would you put it chris??
So how is this film compared to the other summer blockbusters alot of the early reviews were saying this was the best blockbuster of the summer. Where would you put it chris??
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4:35PM on 08/04/2011
I still think the best blockbuster was X-MEN FIRST CLASS. It's a tad below SUPER 8. This is in about the same league as THOR, CAP AMERICA, and FAST FIVE- all of which I dug.
I still think the best blockbuster was X-MEN FIRST CLASS. It's a tad below SUPER 8. This is in about the same league as THOR, CAP AMERICA, and FAST FIVE- all of which I dug.
-2
3:11PM on 08/04/2011

Extra Tidbit

[link]

"Planet of the Apes Party Fun Time (remix to Benny Benassi Presents the Biz)", No ? ;)
[link]

"Planet of the Apes Party Fun Time (remix to Benny Benassi Presents the Biz)", No ? ;)
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2:42PM on 08/04/2011

Extra Tidbit

The monkeys start talking don't they?
The monkeys start talking don't they?
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