Rise of the Planet of the Apes (May Contain Spoilers)

With all of the prequels, sequels and reboots coming out of Hollywood in recent years (and quite likely, for the foreseeable future as well), after a while they can tend to become a little like background noise – you know they’re there, but tend not to take much notice of them. A few of these films that have tried to pin themselves to the success of others have proven to be worth watching and genuinely add to what the originals had to offer, and some just tend to let everyone down and ruin what could have been something great. Luckily, Rise of the Planet of the Apes sits firmly in the former.

Taking place many, many years before the original Planet of the Apes (and just to clarify, I am talking about the original Charlton Heston version, and not Tim Burton’s re-imagining. It may have had better visual effects, but still, that’s just not an excuse anymore…), Rise of the Planet of the Apes takes everything back to the very beginning of the simian revolution, and ties up all threads that led up to how apes became the supreme beings on Earth. It all starts with Will Rodman (James Franco), a brilliant scientific mind who is on the verge of creating a cure for Alzheimer’s disease which has struck his father (John Lithgow) very hard. The most successful ape in his trials manages to break free and gets shot right before a presentation, but leaves behind a baby ape with the chemical cure passed down genetically. What Will soon finds out is that his chemical isn’t just a cure, but enhances brain activity as well, and so he studies the ape he’s named Caeser and along with his love interest Caroline (Frieda Pinto), teaches him things no normal ape could comprehend. Eventually, Caeser is an ape with an extraordinary mind and has proven that Will’s cure for Alzheimer’s works. But as his boss (David Oyelewo) begins work on a stronger version of his cure, Caeser gets put into an ape sanctuary where the handlers (Tom Felton and Brian Cox) are cruel and merciless, and the other apes fight for dominance. Before long, Caeser unites his fellow apes together and plots an escape from their prison to the freedom of the outside world.

I can’t really express how impressive and generally exciting Rise of the Planet of the Apes is in a way that is short and sweet enough to mean I don’t go on forever about every little bit, so I’ll try and stick to the basics of what I liked, and just say that it definitely lived up to my expectations of it (I also want to mention that I avoided making any monkey-puns during the writing of this review. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it).

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the fact that you end up being very sympathetic towards an animal main character, as Andy Serkis manages to bring some amazing effects and facial emotions to the character of Caeser. You end up truly feeling the plight of this creature and partly feeling that him leading the apes on a revolution is somewhat deserved. Then you remember “Oh wait, I’m a human, I should really be on their side”.

The effects in general are amazing, as well, as each ape manages to take on some kind of personality and play a part towards the end, and you can see how parts of what happen in ROTPOTA leads into the hierarchy of the original.

What I perhaps liked the most about Rise of the Planet of the Apes, though, is the very end parts. Not only do you get to see Caeser with his fellow (now smarter) ape brethren in the freedom of the forests where they belong, but midway through the credits we are all treated to an explanation of how humans died out from the virus created by the stronger version of the Alzheimer’s Cure, and how it spreads throughout the globe, showing how it wasn’t apes themselves that killed off humans, but a virus instead that left Apes as the dominant species. This tied everything together neatly into one, very solid storyline and one amazingly visual film.

It’s actually hard to find too many things I can really fault Rise of the Planet of the Apes on. One small thing perhaps would be the scene on the San Francisco Bridge when a mounted policeman is charging a silverback Gorilla. Now while I admit that I’m no scientist when it comes to animals, it seems to me that no matter what kind of horse you’re riding, if it were to see a gorilla running at it it would almost definitely turn and run the other way and not carry on running! But, as I said, this is a science fiction film and is only really a small flaw in an otherwise brilliantly put together film.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes gets 9 out of 10 for having incredible visual effects an tying everything together in a well-rounded way that also manages to lead in nicely to the original films and have a good script and acting at the same time. It’s a lot to be able to pull off in one film, but Rise definitely seems to have covered all the bases.


LISTED Film Previews – August ’11

Carrying on the big Summer Blockbuster hits of the season, I very nearly ran out of space in this months section as there was SO much that I wanted to write about these films, but had to limit what I could put for each of them. Never the less, all the best films (and worst) films for this month managed to get a mention, so get your great big dirty eyes round these and pick something to watch!

COWBOYS & ALIENS (12A) (Dir. Jon Favreau)

This neo-Western sci-fi epic set in Silver City, Arizona in 1873 sees Daniel Craig as a man on the run who wakes up in the wilderness to find an unusual mechanism attached to his wrist. After journeying back to town, the colonel (Harrison Ford, back in a hat again!) puts him in shackles. At that moment, the most unlikely of events occurs – an Alien spacecraft arrives in the town with bad intentions. Now, a posse of cowboys and Native Americans must band together to fight the extra-terrestrial invaders. Expect bucket-loads of epic action and effects in this comic book adaptation from the director of Iron Man. Released August 19th.

SUPER 8 (12A) (Dir. J.J. Abrams)

In a small Ohio town in 1979, a group of teenagers shooting a super 8 movie witness a train crash and capture it on film. But later they suspect that the crash was no accident as strange events start taking place in their town, and as their deputy begins to investigate, a monstrous phenomenon emerges. This highly anticipated film from the director of Star Trek and Cloverfield will have both cult followers and mainstream film-goers excited in equal measures! Released August 5th.

THE SMURFS (PG) (Dir. Raja Gosnell)

Call me cynical, but the more films that try to rejuvenate classic cartoons from the past into CGI money-makers shows a growing lack of originality. Both Marmaduke and Yogi Bear went South, and it could be that The Smurfs being magically transported to New York could head down the same dangerous path. However, Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry as Smurfette and Hank Azaria as Gargamel could be what saves this from being a total smurf-up. Released August 10th.

RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (12A) (Dir. Rupert Wyatt)

Finally seeing a prequel to the famous Sci-fi film series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes stars James Franco as a research scientist working to create a cure for Alzheimer’s by experimenting on a chimp named Caesar. But the consequences of his research are bigger than anyone could have expected, and the development of animal intelligence brings around a war for dominance between apes and humans. Just the effects in the trailers are entirely mind blowing, and with Andy Serkis getting his primate on again after King Kong you can bet that this will completely re-define everything that was known about this series until now. Guaranteed, this will be a big hit on all accounts! Released August 12th.


Alright, so it may well be like a modern day Kevin And Perry Go Large, but considering that The Inbetweeners has been one of the biggest sitcom hits of recent years, the fact that the boys are getting their own movie comes as little surprise! Will (Simon Bird), Jay (James Buckley), Neil (Blake Harrison) and Simon (Joe Thomas) are all heading out on a group holiday to Crete. But, as with all the best laid plans of the foursome, things are bound to go awry. This could end up being the British answer to The Hangover, so don’t see this if you don’t want your sides split! Released August 19th.

As published in Listed Magazine and online at http://www.listedmagazine.com