Friday, September 5, 2014

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

After Tim Burton crashed and burned with his remake of Planet of the Apes back in 2001, most of us thought the franchise died. Obviously the studio didn’t think so. So we started to see trailers for yet another film about Apes taking over the earth. But wait a second… are they actually starting the story where the later films like Escape from the Planet of the Apes were set? This could be interesting.

Brilliant scientist Will Rodman (James Franco… stop laughing!) is attempting to create a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. His father Charles (John Lithgow) is afflicted and is getting worse, so Will starts experimenting a bit wildly on chimpanzees. Things end up going wrong, and he ends up on the outs from his company. But he does manage a breakthrough with a chimp named Caesar (Andy Serkis).

Caesar begins learning at an amazing rate, obtaining more cognition as well as human traits. The drug seems to work on Charles too, reversing the affects of the disease. Everything is going so well, so we know it can’t stay that way. Sure enough Caesar gets in trouble and is forced into a facility for primates. He is treated brutally by the John Landon (Brian Cox) and his son Dodge (Tom Felton). Meanwhile Charlie relapses and Will decides to alter the experiment, giving his cure virus-like qualities. These events set in motion the fate of the world, as Caesar takes a stand and we witness the Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Good Points:
  • Amazing visual effects bring the apes and especially Caesar to life
  • Creates an interesting premise to lead us to a planet ruled by apes
  • The build up to the great ape escape is filled with tension

Bad Points:
  • James Franco is a super smart scientist… are you sure?
  • Uses quotes to wink at the audience a few too many times
  • Those looking for wall-to-wall ape action will be disappointed

An admirable reboot (or is it?) to the Planet of the Apes franchise. The combination of Andy Serkis and amazing visual effects allows us to connect with Caesar and his story. The film builds on itself until the tense finale where things can go very badly. As the wheels are set in motion for a sequel, you’ll find yourself eager to see where they take this story.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 5
Sound: 5
Acting: 4
Script: 4
Music: 4
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. The Tim Burton “Planet of the Apes,” despite being technically impressive, is a lesser film than the 1968 original. By a lot. In the original series of films, sequel-itis set in at once: “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” indeed. So, I have been in no hurry to see the latest ape film. If it was a step down from Burton’s, there was not much reason to see it at all. Good to know it’s a step up.

    1. Yeah it was surprisingly good. A few minor things that bugged me, but the end result was a very engaging movie. And yeah, certainly a step up from the Burton film.

  2. Yes, I was pretty disappointed by Burton's remake--okay, it had a statue of an ape Lincoln near the end, so I guess that would be Aperham Lincoln--yes, bad Wayne's World pun. But aside from the effects, it didn't do too much for me, and I'm glad I wasn't the only one to see a freakish resemblance between Michael Jackson at the time and Burton's character, Ari, played by Helena Bonham Carter.

    The newer re-imagining or retcons (as is known in the comics world) breathes new life into the franchise. I'm looking forward to the next installment. I hope it is as good as the first. I wouldn't have thought it would have worked, but it turned into a novel idea.

    1. Oh man, now I want to re-watch the Burton movie just to see Helena Michael Jackson Carter. :)