Sean K. Cureton

The Planet of the Apes Series Returns

In Movie Reviews: 2011 on August 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Theatrical Poster
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
2 1/2 out of 4 stars
Directed by Rupert Wyatt

After Tim Burton’s 2001 Planet of the Apes remake, no one was in any hurry to see another film to continue or renew the series. Fortunately, this summer’s release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the perfect remedy for Burton’s horrid remake, and provides for what could prove to be a completely new and interesting remake of the entire original series.

Set in a time period much like our own, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is about how a young scientist named Will Rodman, played by Academy-award Nominee James Franco, is seeking to find the cure for Alzheimer’s by experimenting with chimpanzees. Unfortunately, his early experiments are shot down after one of the apes attacks his staff out of fear for her child. Will is then given the baby ape, the only ape not put down by his company, and raises it on his own in order to continue his research uninhibited by his boss, Steven Jacobs, played by David Oyelowo.

Eventually, the ape Will takes care of, who he names Caesar, becomes too difficult for him to manage, and he is forced to give him up into the care of an animal reserve run by a character named John Landon and his son Dodge, who are played by Brian Cox and Tom Felton respectively. After being mistreated at the hands of Dodge for several weeks, Caesar inevitably starts an uprising among the apes by the end of the film, and the film ends with a rather ambiguous ending that is obviously meant to indicate to the audience that more films are on the way to continue the story started in this film.

What makes this film so interesting and fun largely has to do with what the effects team at WETA Workshop, the same effects team that brought the Lord of the Rings trilogy to life, was able to achieve in their crafting of the cast of apes in the movie. Starting with Caesar, who was animated entirely from the performance of Andy Serkis, WETA was able to create the first Apes film that featured apes that actually looked like apes. They were then able to manipulate these apes to do anything using performers such as Serkis. At the end of the movie, one simply doesn’t remember many of the human characters, and instead is moved almost entirely by the apes.

In conclusion, Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a success largely due to the compelling performances given by the actors whose movements and facial expressions were used to create the best looking apes this series has ever seen. Andy Serkis, a veteran of the motion capture technology used in the film, should certainly be applauded for his great work in the role of Caesar, the ape who initiates the rise of the apes. While it may not be the best movie of the year, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is certainly a whole lot of fun, and boasts the best special effects that this reviewer has seen in years.

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  1. I’m a fan of the original, and of this genre of cautionary tales about human stupidity and cruelty as a result of using technology unwisely and consuming resources wastefully (a genre that ranges from Solyent Green to WallE). At the same time these films scare me – they really do touch my fears. I will have to summon the courage to see it.

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