Skip to main content

Get Ready to Root for the Monkeys

Movie Review: The Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Summary: Chimps undergo genetic experimentation, which advances their intelligence, making them a threat to mankind.
Spoilers: none

Intended as an origins story for Planet of the Apes (1968), The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a gripping and exciting narrative set in present day San Francisco where genetic experimentation with chimps creates human-rivaling intelligence in the primates, leading to a war for domination of the planet.

“Dr. Will Rodman” (James Franco) has struggled for years to find a cure for Alzheimer’s, a disease his own father (John Lithgow) suffers from. When a new drug with the nickname “112” shows promise as a treatment and potential cure for the disease, he jumps at the chance to test it on humans after seeing its success in chimps.

Rodman’s boss, “Steven Jacobs” (David Oyelowo), is a money-minded businessman, and when funding for Rodman’s project is cut due to an accident, he is compelled to euthanize the chimps used in the study. Rodman saves one of these chimps—a chimp named “Caesar” who immediately begins to demonstrate drastically superior intelligence.

After a slight injury, Rodman is put in touch with a veterinarian, “Caroline” (Freida Pinto) and the two become close. An episode of violence against a neighbor leads to Caesar being locked up where his further advancing intelligence leads to a full-on rebellion in a fight for domination with his fellow chimps at his side.

Fans of the Planet of the Apes saga will not be disappointed in this, the highly invigorated story of how it began. After a few disappointing remakes of the 1968 classic, we have here a fine story in the vessel of a solid film that tugs at the heartstrings while providing enough excitement to match the suspense or sci-fi expectations of just about anyone.

The film is set back only by a select number of ham-fisted characters, including a neighbor (David Hewlett) who is always high-strung to the point of creating conflicts right when we need to see Caesar’s primal potential for trouble. The same can be said of a cruel caretaker, “Dodge” (Tom Felton) at the facility where Caesar is held. Such characters exist only for a simple purpose, and we know well ahead of time what that purpose is.

The film goes to great lengths to show Caesar’s progressing intelligence. Some careful directing gives us a keen-minded story with a clear goal achieved through good writing. And while these bands of chimps are a little bit too anxious to jump repeatedly through plate glass windows and are not quite as big on ripping off nuts and arms, it offered some hulking, ape strength feats in the form of tipped-over buses and ripped-off car doors while keeping true to its aim of providing mostly family-based, action-entertainment.

This film hits the high marks, not only for the way it uses screen-time, but in the way its focus remains clear throughout. We get no truly remarkable acting here, but get ready to root for the monkeys, as this treat is more their story than any one person’s. As one of the more stimulating action-adventures of the summer, this film will remain highly regarded among Planet of the Apes fans and audiences in general.


Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: PG-13 (or violence, terror, some sexuality, and brief strong language)
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: “Will Rodman” (James Franco), “Caroline Aranha” (Freida Pinto), “Charles Rodman” (John Lithgow), “John Landon” (Brian Cox), “Dodge Landon” (Tom Felton), “Steven Jacobs” (David Oyelowo), “Hunsiker” (David Hewlett), “Robert Franklin” (Tyler Labine)
Genre:  Action / Drama / Sci-Fi / Thriller


Popular posts from this blog

When Jesus Turns Down the Glory: 10 Worst Ever Christian Songs

It’s a sad testimony when even the creator of a thing realizes that the product isn’t what it was intended to be. Well, actually it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t happen often enough. The Christian music industry is, shall we say, not up to par with where its admirers (and even creators and ardent well-wishers) would hope it would be. And when even the average believer realizes that their music is not market-cornering stuff, all should know that there is a problem.

Now not all Christian music sucks (you might even find a few rock songs from artists like Petra on Joe Holman’s ipod that he still sometimes listens to and enjoys), but what makes the stuff that does suck suck is that what sucks sucks for a number of different reasons. We begin the countdown going from best of the worst to absolute worst...

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part I of II)

It’s a subject that is rarely tackled in any form outside of random questions on a message board, but here we will devote a sensible examination of it. Who – what – is the most powerful being anywhere in every realm of sci-fi or fantasy ever dreamt up by a finite human being? I’ve been contemplating this subject since I was 8 years old. At 39, it hasn’t left my mind. That means several things; (1) I’m a fucking geek. (2) I’ve invested enough of my life pondering this for it to qualify as an obsession.

As with all “Most” anything lists, we are faced with several problems, one of them being limited source material. A couple of these only made one or two brief appearances somewhere and that is all we have to go by. But sometimes, those situations let our imaginations go into overdrive and give us even more creative fun. The mystery tends to add to the experience of contemplation.

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part II of II)

#1) The Douwds – From Star Trek The Next Generation

Claim to fame: This Douwd went from pacifist to mass murderer of 50 billion in a single moment of anger. He appears to hold the record for most murders in all of sci-fi.
Abilities: Just about unlimited.
Nature: True immortals.

Our winner, debatably edging out number #2, is a mysterious race of beings called the Douwds. We only get to meet one of their kind in a single episode (#51, season 3 - see the condensed version here) called “The Survivors.” It was one of the very best of any season. What little we know of this illusive race “of disguises and false surroundings” only adds to our fascination with them.

When the Enterprise gets an urgent distress call from a federation colony on Delta Rana IV about an attacking alien warship, they head over as fast as they can, but they are days away. By the time they arrive, it is too late. All are dead and the planet has been literally leveled…with the sole exception of one house and the small pa…