Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)


It’s everything that I thought the chimpacalypse would be..except with less poo throwing.

James Franco headlines the reboot of the immensely popular Planet of the Apes franchise, a prequel which boasts a story set in modern-day San Francisco, where scientists are conducting genetic research on apes. The evolved primates, including Caesar (Andy Serkis), develop advanced intelligence and revolt against being used as lab rats, unleashing a war for dominion over Earth.

Ever since Tim Burton made that film way back in 2001, everybody has been wanting the chimps back and now that they are, I really am so glad.

Something about this film that not many people will know from seeing the trailer that this is actually more of a story-based film rather crazy monkey action. The sweetness to this film takes a huge hold on your heart when you start to see Caesar grow up with Franco, his father, and everybody else around him and a lot of the things that happen aren’t as much as cute as they are just sweet and tug at the heart-strings well. They focus more on these character’s inter-action with one another and that’s what really worked for this film.

What’s funny too is that you’ll actually stand behind the apes as they fight together because you see why they are this way and you can’t really say you disagree with them after all. I thought the film was going to be one big chimp-invasion film where we watched almost every human die at the hands of these apes but without giving anything away, the people you want to die, actually do die while others just hang-out and get injure. Not much of a high death-rate here in this film which is a first in this whole summer blockbuster time.

Another great thing about this film is the amazing use of technology here and just how the special effects seem totally realistic while adding a lot more of realism to it as well. When I watched this, I felt like I saw actual apes up on screen doing all these crazy things and when the action starts to kick in by the end, it looks terribly real which is a lot of thanks to director Rupert Wyatt‘s idea of actually making cool action look cool without adding the extra dimension.

A problem I had with this film was that I felt like all the random references to the original franchise were actually cheesy and pretty lame. It showed that this film couldn’t really stand on it’s own toes as a re-boot itself so it just had to have a little reference here and there to the classic’s and show that it was related to the franchise in a way.

Another problem I had with this film was that it actually lacks what great science fiction should do, and that is to be an allegory or shine a light on a major cause. You don’t really get much else here other than a good story, good special effects, and a bunch of chimps going crazy but the real bummer was no real theme or message which makes it seem a bit disingenuous.

I didn’t think I was going to be able to buy James Franco here as Dr. Will Rodman, but I guess that PHD is working out well for him considering his performance here is good with a lot of heart and soul to a character that could have easily been another cliche. Freida Pinto is OK here as Franco’s girlyfriend; John Lithgow is very good as Franco’s father; and Tom Felton basically makes you want to beat his ass during every scene he has on screen. But the real show here is not even a human character.

Andy Serkis does that motion-capture performance he’s been doing for the past 11 years, but this time really shows off his talents as Caesar. There are so many emotions that goes through this character and we can tell each and every single little one mostly thanks to Serkis and his perfect ability to bring out these insane emotions through these special effects. There are times when you have no idea just what the hell is going to happen next with Caesar and that’s mostly thanks to Serkis’ wide range of almost voiceless acting that works insanely well here.

Consensus: Rise of the Planet of the Apes is more based on its story than the actual action that happens but it’s directed with great style from Wyatt, well-acted, especially from Andy Serkis, and despite a few flaws here and there we still have a great story that catches us by the heart-strings and keeps us going just about until the final shot.

8.5/10=Matinee!!

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44 comments

  1. Generally, I agree. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” fails to stand alone without its predecessors, unfortunately, but the CGI was a major factor in its financial success, mainly for its ability to infuse emotion in the apes and suggest intelligence beyond the primal level.
    While there are certainly several downers to this, overall, if one takes it at face value, it is a solid, entertaining summer flick with just the right amount of action and drama.
    Unfortunately, one of the greatest let downs was that it was just short of being believable. I would say, if there was more story development, especially as a separate entity from “Planet of the Apes”, it would have hit a higher benchmark at the box office.

  2. thanks for this review! i thought it looked really good, but i would prefer that there be good action scenes, as well as a good plot. is that why critics didn’t pan this one because there was no action and they basically hate action movies? i plan to see it myself because i like the cast, and the trailer looks good, but i am disappointed to hear that the action i minimal.

  3. I always love your opening lines! hahaha.
    I briefly skimmed this one, since I have yet to see the film. but I am glad to see your high praise and the comments you made on the movie. I can’t wait to see it myself. And Andy Serkis is in everything lately. It’s a wonder The Avengers didn’t use him for The Hulk! haha.
    I hope Ray Park will one day start to see as much praise as Serkis.

  4. Hey thanks for reading my review and commenting. Liked yours as well. I wonder how Andy Serkis found his talent for CGI work like this

  5. I agree that they did a great job with Caeser and that it was a key element in the success of the film. On the other hand, I’m one of those people who do like the little references thrown into films. About the only thing I did like in the 2001 POTA movie was the cameo by Charlton Heston – as an ape.

  6. At first, it was nice getting all those original Planet of the Apes references. But after a while it just became overwhelming. Tom Felton repeating the “damn dirty ape” line word for word? Really? Other than this I really enjoyed it. Great review!

  7. Thanks for a great review! I agree about the references (although since it’s been years since I’ve seen the other films I won’t pretend to have caught all of them. At some point someone should make a list!).

    However, what was interesting is that I went with a friend who hadn’t seen any of the earlier films, and I think he loved it even more than I did. So perhaps there was enough there to stand on its own, if they’d only allowed it to do so.

  8. Definitely true points…im so glad your review doesnt rely on big vocab but rather disecting the film to its core…very focused…i enjoyed this

  9. Another great review, I really enjoy reading your stuff. Also, thanks for reading mine as well.
    I think the underlying social message is don’t f*** with mother nature. You did make a great point with your sci-fi explanation. I always referred to that as the Star Trek effect.
    Again, nice review!

  10. Interesting review. Personally I found the message to be painfully obvious. The story pretty much force feeds the idea of animal abuse down our throats along with idea of freedom and liberation of the disenfranchised. Either way the film wasn’t the mediocrity I had originally anticipated it to be.

    Thanks for visiting my blog by the way!

  11. I definitely agree that Serkis is a great actor considering he is doing it without actually speaking! It’s truly a talent!
    Also, I had the same feelings about Franco playing Will but I feel that a lot of his more recent roles have been more serious compared to his earlier ones. I think he’s fast becoming one of those versatile actors who can act a wide range.
    Loved your review!

  12. An enjoyable read! I’ll be sure to check out more when I have time to spare, thank you for stopping by my review as well, was nice to get a comment!
    About the references to the older movies, I can conceed that they used them a bit overbearingly, sometimes (as with ‘damn dirty ape’) seeming quite out of place, but as a fan of the old movies and all their sillyness I still enjoyed them. Maybe if they’d held back a bit more it wouldn’t have bothered the rest of you so much? 🙂
    The apes do indeed steal the show! And I think the movie owes a lot of its quality to the emotional investment of the audience in their plight. Made me chuckle more than once how much I was on Caesar’s side while watching, even if his success inevitably leads to the downfall of mankind.

    Will be checking out more of your site in my spare-time, perchance I’ll see you over at mine again in the future! 🙂

    Kind regards, Para.

  13. I agree with you as far as it being more story driven. I didn’t realize that going into it,but with most films where I think I know everything, I was happy it wasn’t just apes killing humans and fight scenes, etc. Great review, I’ll be writing my soon….I’m very behind with my reviews lately, just put up Horrible Bosses and Transformers!

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