Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) – Film Review

Not the catchiest of titles, but nevertheless... the apes are back!

First starting in 1974 the story of human beings becoming the prey and subject to the leadership of Apes has become something of a phenomenon since 1974. Six films, a television series and a reinvention by Tim Burton in 2001 have followed. Director Rupert Wyatt is the brains behind the latest instalment and his Rise of the Planet of the Apes is set in modern America.

Scientist Will (James Franco), driven by watching his own father (played by a fantastic John Lithgow) succumb to the disease, is desperately trying to find a cure for Alzheimers. The drug’s aim is to repair human brain cells. Will’s research involves testing on apes even though he believes he is ready for human trails. After a fateful day in his lab which results in the unit being shut down, he discovers a baby ape. Thus the relationship is born. Will then raises Caesar as part of his family and, during this time, he discovers the baby has been passed the effects of the drug by his mother Bright Eyes, Will’s most promising test subject. As he grows, Caesar shows heightened intelligence and staggering human qualities. However, the divide between human and beast soon becomes apparent and darkness starts to descend.

What’s most impressive about this latest tale is the level of technology used. The motion capture is revolutionary and, naturally, every major studio turns to Andy Serkis, who kick-started it all off with Gollum in Lord of The Rings back in 2001. None of the apes in the film are real but that doesn’t matter – they look so good you forget that. The human emotion shown on Caesar’s face is particularly moving. There are some great correlations and references to the previous films which are a nice touch and will please fans.

Everyone in the film gives great performances, none of them stand-out, apart from the apes, of course, who are the real show-stealers. What you do leave the cinema with is a feeling that you have watched a worthy film in this already popular saga; however has the hype been overrated? Yes and no. Yes because you do leave feeling like you have been left hanging on the edge of a story that is really only beginning and no because the effects are so good. Are there more plans for Planet of the Apes films? Who knows – watch this space.

Best performance: Andy Serkis as Caesar.
Best scene: Caesar building his army.
Best line: Dodge Landon – ‘Take your stinking paws off me you damn dirty ape!’

The scene in which Caesar is shown handling a 3D puzzle of the Statue of Liberty is a reference to the ending of the first film.

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