Rise of the Planet of the Apes [2011]

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CONTAINS SPOILERS

Evolution Becomes Revolution

Directed by Rupert Wyatt

Reviewed by Deep Red

Aka El planeta de los simios: (R)Evolución aka Rise of the Apes aka Planet of the Apes: Genesis aka Genesis: Apes aka Caesar: Rise of the Apes aka Caesar

Reboot of the Planet of the Apes series, origin story and with first sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes [2014] just around the corner, these are exciting times for ‘Apes’ fans and this is where everything begins anew. And is anyone complaining? I, for one, am not. I think the original film series ran its course and Tim Burton’s one-off, for all its merits, didn’t do anything in terms of reviving the franchise. All are available on Blu-ray and are worth revisiting. This one apes (pun intended) Conquest of the Planet of the Apes [1972] to some degree plot-wise but it isn’t a remake of that film.

Now, this film is CGI-heavy but it’s one of the those times when that’s perfectly OK, I’m pretty opposed to computer generated horror but sci-fi, I think this is where that stuff works best.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is trying to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, testing drugs on chimpanzees. One chimp, Bright Eyes (Terry Notary), develops incredible intelligence but escapes, goes crazy and is shot. Will’s boss Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) orders the rest put down. Will saves Bright Eyes’ baby and takes it home. Will’s father, Charles (John Lithgow), himself an Alzheimer’s sufferer, names the chimp Caesar.

Caesar grows up and he’s clearly inherited his mother’s intelligence, he starts to question his own identity and after he violently defends Charles in a dispute with a neighbour he is taken to an ape sanctuary run by John Landon (Brian Cox) and his cruel son Dodge Landon (Tom Felton).

Will develops a new experimental drug in gas form, his original drug failed to provide a long-term cure for his father’s Alzheimer’s. Meanwhile Caesar (Andy Serkis) rises to alpha in the ape sanctuary after overthrowing chimpanzee Rocket (again Terry Notary). He also makes a couple of friends in Maurice (Karin Konoval), an orangutan who can do sign language, and Buck (Richard Ridings), a gorilla. Caesar escapes the sanctuary and returns with the gas making all the apes intelligent. The revolution begins:

“Take your stinking paw off me, you damn dirty ape.”

“NO!”

State-of-the-art effects. What can I say? The apes are pretty damn close to their real-life counterparts and they have a lot of personality to boot. The film’s pacey and looks great. Is it the best ‘Apes’ film? Now there’s a question. Yes, it is. There’s an answer. Another and better answer would be, you can’t compare this with a film made in 1968 or its sequels, it’s certainly better than Burton’s effort from 2001. So this is how they’re doing it these days. The finale is something else, very impressive stuff. There are numerous nods to the originals throughout, see if you can spot them. My personal favourite scene is where Caesar, Maurice, Buck and Koba are on the roof of a tram together, so we have the three species from the original film series Chimpanzee, Orangutan, Gorilla, and new species Bonobo all together. Brilliant!

Also stars Freida Pinto as Caroline Aranha, Tyler Labine as Robert Franklin and Christopher Gordon as Koba (a bonobo).