Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

Get your stinking paws of this franchise, Tim Burton, you damn dirty ape

During experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, Dr Will Rodman (James Franco) raises across a genetically-enhanced chimpanzee, who turns out to posses greater intelligence, and will use said intelligence to eventually lead other apes to their freedom.

After 10 years without a Planet of the Apes film in sight, the re-emergence of this franchise did not set my pulse racing, and I did not expect much from a re-visit to an old franchise whose last endeavor wasn't very well received. I went into this film with no real expectations, and was pleasantly surprised with what I had witnessed.

The motion capture used for the monkeys is phenomenal stuff, pretty much the next best thing from using actual monkeys, but using real monkeys for this film would make the overall message seem pretty hypocritical.

Despite barely speaking throughout the entire running time and only appearing onscreen through the motion capture technology, Andy Serkis gives an utterly tremendous performance as Caeser, making us feel for the poor ape. Dialogue is not at all needed to sympathize with Caeser, as Serkis expresses his character's feelings exceptionally through his facial expressions and his body language, with every facial expression being perfectly emulated, be it confusion, sadness, happiness or rage, all you have to do to understand what Caeser is feeling is take a look at his face.

I did find Caeser's development to be rather interesting, as we witness his journey from basically being Will's pet as he's kept on a leash, whilst embracing the human side of things, as he wears clothes and eats with cutlery, to disregarding the human side of things he previously embraced in favor of his primate brethren, whilst becoming more cold and calculating.

As Planet of the Apes is relatively well known within pop-culture, it's really no surprise that the actual primates would speak in this film, and by keeping Caeser from uttering any human words for most of the films running time, they successfully managed to make the moment when Caeser finally utters a human word such a powerful moment which resonates really well.

"Revenge for the monkeys who got lipstick put on them!"

Koba, another ape, is a great character to place on the opposite end of the spectrum from Caeser, being a character who will not hesitate when given the opportunity to kill humans, and I look forward to seeing the rivalry between Koba and Caeser in the Apes sequel.

The actual moment when the apes rise against humanity is such a magnificent moment, giving way to action sense which manage to be pretty tense and are very well done. One thing that left many people puzzled after seeing the trailer was how an army of these apes could overcome humanity and rule Earth, despite humanity having such an arsenal with tanks, helicopters, guns and various kinds of weaponry that could decimates the invading chimps. I will not spoil how they get around this, but I thought that it was a great way of subverting expectations and a satisfying answer as to how Earth becomes the actual Planet of the Apes.

What I did like about the story was how the genetically-intelligent chimp was not created due to a scientist and his quest to be famous by creating some Macguffin-type serum, but instead the serum was being created by Will in order to try and cure his father's Alzheimers.

With the exception of John Lithgow's character, I did not really feel for any of the human characters, as barely any of them had anything to distinguish themselves and were nothing more than one-dimensional characters. Will's girlfriend, Caroline, came off as bland, and never really stood out, while Jacobs, Will's boss, was nothing more than the typical moustache-twirling character who keeps getting in the way of the main character. Brian Cox and Tom Felton are utterly one-note as the typical monkey-wranglers.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year, giving a fresh reboot to this old franchise while also serving as a satisfying origin story, and you'll find yourself caring a lot more for a CG chimp than for any of the actual humans, which is more of a praise of the handling of Caeser than a criticism on the human characters. Okay, it's a little of both.


Matt Stewart said…
I seriously cannot wait to see this. Unfortunately it's nearly a month till it comes out one Netflix. Great review Rodders!
Matt Stewart said…
I seriously cannot wait to see this. Unfortunately it's nearly a month till it comes out one Netflix. Great review Rodders!
Rodney said…
I agree with your summation, Rodders. This was a surprisingly good film considering the low expectations I had going in - the humans are pretty bland and the apes are awesome. What more do we need, really?

great review, man!
Myerla said…
Caeser reminds me a little bit of Gromit who can't talk but you know exactly what he is thinking. Superb review, we notice the same points but I guess the poorly defined human characters bothered me more.
James Rodrigues said…
@Matt Stewart well I hope you enjoy it as much as I did

@Rodney thanks, Rodney

@Myerla nice one about Gromit
Tom_Film_Master said…
Terrific review James and I agree with Caesar speaking being a powerful moment! this is one of this years best films.
Jeff SC said…
I REALLY don't get the craze over Andy Serkis' performance! He was an-i-mat-ed, his face does not look like an ape, so you know those facial expressions were also animated. Forgive me for having a Rohit moment, but arrogance! I did like the movie though, so I can forgive the fact that you are all crazy about a computer-animated monkey :P
H.A.K. said…
I thought it was just okay. nuthun spectacular.