Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rendezvous at Golden Gate


06 August 2011| No Comments on Rise of the Planet of the Apes     by Sean Chavel


Odd experience that has its share of both good and bad but ultimately the good stuff dominates by the end, so fans, let’s stick to it. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a prequel to satisfy fans and admirers of the 20th Century Fox franchise that began in 1968 with Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowall. Now we have the contemporary story of apes in a San Francisco research facility going through brain mutations that will exceed their intelligence of their human counterparts thus bringing upon an uprising. James Franco (“127 Hours”) is just OK – sturdy at least and not distracting – as the scientist who raises Caesar (Andy Serkis, Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy) from near  birth. At home with them is his father (John Lithgow, “A Civil Action”) who is affected with Alzheimer’s disease and is eventually treated by the same ALZ 112 drug that is tested on lab primates. Freida Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire”) is the primatologist who is in the story more to care for Franco’s frailties than for the chimps. The dialogue is professionally functional but doesn’t attempt to compete with master’s studies. Supremely rich cinematography and superb choreography of the apes in commotion make up for a lot. Grand climax is a lot more mature and cunningly conceived than most arbitrary blowouts in summer blockbuster pictures.

One of the most essential scenes of the movie however is one that takes place right after the end credits start rolling, so don’t get up from your seat too soon. The satisfaction of the whole thing has us hopefully longing for future sequels – let’s assume that 20th Century Fox hasn’t put together this reboot for nothing. It’s been a long time since the compromised mash-up “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971) tried to patch a story together of apes comingling with contemporary mankind, but our current entry is certainly more integral and resolute as we stand now.

The vivacious swinging and climbing that Caesar performs is exaggerated in that apparent CGI way except that I didn’t mind all that much, surprisingly, I found his movements sparkled and nifty. But the behavioral issues and connection to Caesar, and then to the other apes (hey, is that Cornelius in that cage?) is what keeps you bound to the integrity of the story. I found myself watching the first half hour engaged by everything and only then interrupted by questioning thoughts. I mean, when a story flash forwards a year or three years or five years and the human characters look the same and act fairly unchanged is when red flags go up in your mind.

The turning point is when Lithgow has an Alzheimer’s episode by trying to carjack a neighbor’s vehicle, naturally to face harangue treatment by the owner next door. Caesar will defend his human family member and wildly batters his antagonist, an action that will get him seized by city animal control. It was maybe a good idea to have such a scene except that it’s overacted and overdone by such, one being, doesn’t the neighbor know that Lithgow has Alzheimer’s and despite everything deserves to not be insensitively reprimanded? Franco is uncertain about the drug’s side effects in his research, and proceeds at work and home with some heavy lifting ethical speculation. Pinto is a caring, pretty doctor who listens to him. Pretty, but at least she is not a tart like many of these Kristen Bell and Kristen Stewart types that we have today. I certainly didn’t mind Pinto was in the movie, not at all.

Caesar is locked up amongst his own kind and one of the peculiar delights of the movie is watching him go from outcast to reigning leader of his animal kingdom microcosm. Brian Cox (“Match Point”) and Tom Felton (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”) are the city ordinance animal keepers and they’re played as cruel custodians, and so we anticipate the apes breaking out of their cells and exacting revenge unto them. As said, the concluding scenes of apes wreaking havoc on San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge do not disappoint and contain infinite more strategy than the showdowns in “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” or “Cowboys and Aliens.” We’re satisfied with this Rise, all we need now is an Occupation, an Enterprise and a Supremacy.

105 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “The Planet of the Apes” (1968); “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971); “District 9” (2009); “Project Nim” (2011).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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