Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Release date: August 5, 2011
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Novel by: Pierre Boulle
Screenplay by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, Tyler Labine, David Oyelowo

I can’t even begin to comprehend what just happened there. Count me in (and probably the whole YAM Magazine team) as those who were skeptical about a new Planet of the Apes movie. Who in their right mind wouldn’t think this would be another summer action blockbuster flick made for a quick money grab?

Well, color us all surprised because this might be the biggest surprise of the summer.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes starts with young bright scientist, Will Rodman (Franco), who is at the testing stages of a new “drug” to cure Alzheimer’s Disease. One of his many subjects — called Bright Eyes — is showing an increase in neural activity and the team is ready to move on to human testing.

As things in movies go, Bright Eyes goes on an angry rampage that shatters any of the hopes for the team to continue with their studies of this new cure. As the program gets shut down and the Ape Keeper, Robert (Labine), is told to put all the testing animals down, he and Will find out that Bright Eyes was only protecting her baby ape.

Unable to put the baby ape down, Will takes him to his father (Lithgow), who suffers from Alzheimer’s. They name him Caesar (Serkis), who has received the genetically mutated genes from his mom.

Though the film could be compared to Avatar in terms of “human beings bad” themes, and might be a little bit too subversive at times, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a little more complicated. For starters, we won’t see James Franco fighting for the apes any time soon, and we are required to sort of side with the apes even if they’re not big-,doe-eyed, blue big kitty cats with amazing bodies. Our relation to the apes, specifically Caesar, works because of Andy Serkis — he knows his stuff, he’s been perfecting his craft through CGI characters for over 10 years now, and he’s probably the most amazing in the film.

Caesar is complicated. He’s neither human nor an ape (at first), and he longs to fit in somewhere. However, as soon as society — Will, in particular — seems to have abandoned him, he makes a turn and becomes the catalyst to disaster.

Franco does well overall, especially with Lithgow, who is Will’s own selfish reason for all his actions. However, while Brian Cox and Tom Felton are typecast as the bad one in charge and the scowling baddie, Freida Pinto is the one thing dragging this down — playing veterinarian Caroline as a moralizing, non-developed love interest.

But I’m game. I can overlook the typecasting and the lack of development in the supporting characters for Caesar — and you can’t accuse me of rooting for the apes because I was actually rooting for the humans. After all, I’m human too.

Though Rise of the Planet of the Apes has its moments when it takes you out of the movie due to some fault in the photorealistic apes, which generally looked really good, and sometimes to some very deep suspense of disbelief — because who in their right minds wouldn’t put down an animal that’s attacked a human being — the film is engaging. It’s an easy movie to get into. We can relate to why Will would make the choices he did, we can see the world through Caesar’s eyes.

The summer didn’t end on such a bad note after all.

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

amy

YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

23 Responses

  1. Mirella says:

    I never actually thought it was going to suck, frankly I was expecting and hoping for something better than Tim Burton’s version and I was not exactly surprised but please.
    So yay, go apes and make your new hippie nation, humans will be more worried about curing this new disease they have brought upong themselves :P
    I expect a sequel dealing with apes trying to defend their new society and some internal battles too. And humans also trying to capture some apes to find a cure?

    • amy says:

      @Mirella, did you send your script idea yet?

      I dunno, on first impressions I really liked it but as I was writing this, I started seeing the underdevelopment which… you know, work for the few laughs. But I have a clear conscience… I had given Avatar a 3.5 – so it’s fitting that this gets a bit more. I did duck 0.25 because of the difficulties in character though xD

  2. ghost says:

    Wow, so this doesn’t suck at all?

    • amy says:

      @ghost, I don’t know if I should attribute this to my low expectations… though with the positive reviews, I did enter the film with some skepticism – does that balance it out?

  3. Castor says:

    Sadly, looking at the upcoming releases, it seems like summer ends right here with this ;)

    I’m surprised at how much people are liking this movie. It seems like it was a bit of a forgotten movie, being released in August with little buzz. I will check this out tomorrow at a matinee (if all goes well). Highly looking forward to it!

    • amy says:

      @Castor, it’s because the promos for it SUCK. At the screening of a movie today, they ran a trailer that had all the movie in it. LOL All the good stuff was in it O_O then there’s the other trailer that had only the action that made everyone think it was crap.

      The posters are crap too.

      It had awful marketing, so everyone was surprised hahaha.

      • Castor says:

        @amy,

        I have seen it! I loved it :) Easily the best blockbuster of the year so far (outside of HP). The Apes are so much cooler than the humans!

        • amy says:

          @Castor, LOL! You and HP! Don’t bring it up because I’ve finally moved on hahaha

          I still think I’m missing Thor from all the blockbusters these year, but I agree with your assessment right there~

  4. Dan O. says:

    I wasn’t actually expecting to be as moved as I did from this material but Serkis just really channeled the inner ape within him, and nails this perfect motion-capture performance as Caesar. Good Review!

    • amy says:

      @Dan O., Serkis alone should make the Academy consider non-on-screen acting a category. And I think he had experience being an ape xD I mean, wasn’t he in an ape-love-triangle when he was training for King Kong? I remember he said something about one of the gorillas being jealous of him or something xD He’s that good at acting…

  5. Rodrigo says:

    Saw this today, and I think Apes was excellent. If a mainstream movie from the summer period is going to be nominated for BP at the Oscars, it better be Apes instead of DHP2.

    Serkis was brilliant in RotPotA.

    But to be honest, I feel somewhat skeptical of the sequel. The novelty of watching the apes is going to wear off, so they’ll need a stronger storyline, hopefully. I do expect a war and the epidemia spreading around for the sequel.

    • amy says:

      @Rodrigo, LOL

      But seriously – I dunno, the more I think about the film… the more holes I find. The question would be if it stands a second viewing… it also depends on how well it does financially, whether or not the Academy chooses it as its blockbuster BP nom – would people watch RotPotA try to win BP?

      It getting a BP also depends on whether it gets some script buzz, which I haven’t… or at least one main acting nom… and considering Serkis is not considered an ‘actor’ for the acting noms, I dunno.

      Effects also weren’t mind-blowing, but then again… no film this year has been the Avatar or Inception.

  6. Juan Barquin says:

    Oh noooo – it’s time for a really long essay from Juan about his movie feelings! This got a 3/5 from me by the way.

    – – –

    Alright, I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings on this one, but I will give it this much: the film itself is crafted much better than the horrible mess of trailers that came along with it. Worst marketing ever? Yes. Entertaining movie? Also yes. However, even though it is a decent movie, it isn’t without plenty of flaws.

    Every time James Franco had a voice-over I sort of groaned because it just felt so out of place. The rest of the time, he did fine although I can’t say he was the most believable choice for this character. Also, Tom Felton’s accent wasn’t particularly good (a little funny at times tbh) and he sort of just played Draco Malfoy again except with angrier faces. As for Andy Serkis, here’s yet another spectacular piece of motion-capture acting from him. I mean, the guy can pretty much dive into any character he’s given, human or not, and kick the ass of half of the cast – so it’s no surprise that he’s great here as a hyper-intelligent ape. John Lithgow is pretty wonderful too, even with his limited screen time, but that’s no surprise either.

    Another minor issue I had was that the music was just so…over-the-top? Like I get you’re going for something suspenseful and epic, but this is not the way to go about it. The abundance of CGI in pretty much every ape except Caeser was a little distracting at times, and I can’t say I felt for the apes as much as most people seem to have, but it wasn’t too bad and definitely proves to be the most realistic of the nominees for visual effects (seriously the most deserving and likely to win too).

    Uhhhhhh the story was actually pretty decent, definitely better than anyone ever expected I’m sure (hell, with the shittiest advertising ever, who actually thought this was going to be worth watching???). More than just a few of the interactions between the apes were a little unnecessary and dragged (a lot of people have made the comparison to episodes of Oz which I think is hilarious and very true), but the scientific backdrop for the movie worked well to establish the story – even though it was sort of riddled with plot holes (AND I MEAN RIDDLED WITH PLOT HOLES). And I’m sure people will say, “But Juan! Who cares! The whole premise is totally unrealistic!” Nope, shut up. If you’re trying to add a background to a movie that doesn’t need a back story because it’s a perfect metaphor and social commentary just the way it is, then you should do it right. Plus, it’s drowning in references to previous Apes films and it’s a little disappointing how they were executed (especially “Take your stinking paw off me you damn dirty ape!” ugh not done well at all).

    Where many sequels and prequels and remakes of Planet of the Apes failed, this one at least gets the job done competently. Maybe I’m being too harsh, but I don’t really think that I am – especially because I didn’t even have any expectations for this one. It’s not quite the masterpiece that Planet of the Apes is (but we all know that none ever really will be), and it’s a lot more action-packed blockbuster than fantasy/sci-fi with bonus social commentary, but at least it’s definitely better than Burton’s mess of a remake ten years prior.

    • amy says:

      @Juan Barquin, you’re being to harsh. I mean, shit – the trailers and posters were SHIT for this hahahaha. But yeah, I don’t dare to EVER watch this ever again, because I know I will hate it. Just thinking back on it makes me mad, but at the moment of the movie – totally fun.

      Or maybe it was the free popcorn and icy sugary soda that I got that distracted me.

      From the CG apes, I liked the orangutan and the gorilla xD But I didn’t think the visual effects were THAT good. But only due to Caesar, it should be worth it.

  7. Camiele says:

    Seems Draco’s doomed to be cast as the bitchy little asshole for the rest of his life. And, to answer your question, yes, this is the very first time I’m watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

    • amy says:

      @Camiele, and it’s only worth that one watch otherwise it’s going to suck. xD

      • Camiele says:

        @amy, Pwahahaha! I’ll take your word for it. Seems like lots of films are like that nowadays. If your reaction is anything to go by, I should just skip Snow White and the Huntsman.

        • Rodrigo says:

          @Camiele, But if you end up watching Mirror Mirror, then I think you should watch Huntsman too just to be able to fairly compare both films and the Queens, SW, midgets, etc.

          BTW, what did you thought of Apes?

  8. Camiele says:

    @Rodrigo, first of all… midgets?! HaHaHaHaHA! You mean dwarfs?

    Secondly, I thought Apes was… okay. I really like the apes. I think Draco (cuz I didn’t pay enough attention to his character to learn its name or his, actually… HaHA) is gonna have a hard time shaking this role he’s always cast in. I don’t know if he’s that great of an actor (nor Radcliffe, for that matter), but his accent was pretty good… HaHA. And despite what people say, I love love LOVE James Franco. He was his Franco self in this film, so I don’t really know. But the apes fighting back was pretty hardcore. I don’t know, I’d probably have to watch it again to get a better opinion, but on first opinions alone, I’d give it a 2.75 — mostly because of the apes.

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