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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

USA 2011
Directed by
Rupert Wyatt
105 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
3 stars

Rise Of The Planet of the Apes

Synopsis: Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to discover a cure for Alzheimers, of which his father (John Lithgow) is in the advanced stages. Testing a formula on chimps, he thinks he’s found success, but the chimp goes crazy and is put down. But she had a baby, which Will adopts and names Caesar. And Caesar turns out to be a very smart little chimp.

I saw on Funny or Die a reworked disclaimer for this movie: No animals were filmed in the harming of this franchise. Cute, and fortunately not true. The CG chimps, gorillas and orangutans are an impressive creation, but this is actually a really good prequel to the original 1968 Planet of the Apes. It would play well as a double feature with the (yet to be released) documentary on chimp research, Project Nim. The parallels between the two films are striking enough to suggest someone also did their research when making this one.

The film tells the story of a super-intelligent chimp who ends up locked up in a private primate sanctuary where the animals are mistreated. Being smart, he works out how to organise and improve his fellow primates and together they break out and head off to freedom and eventually, planetary domination. The script is pretty solid, with believable motivation for the events that take place, and a real sense of emotion to much of it. There’s a rampage on the Golden Gate Bridge that feels kind of superfluous to the whole story, but it does give the film the action set-piece it had seemed to be assiduously avoiding. It’s well staged, but why super-intelligent apes who know it’s wrong to kill would choose to attack a bunch of policemen with guns, when it was clearly established they could sneak past them just as easily, is a bit questionable.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a fun film that makes a few sneaky nods towards the iconic original although it does grate with the one quoted line (no prizes for guessing which one that is). But that misstep aside,it doesn’t leave you feeling ripped off. And given the state of most “prequel” films being made today, that counts as high praise.




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