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August 27, 2011
Review - " Rise of the Planet of the Apes "
(in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Directed by: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom
Felton, Andy Serkis

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a prequel to the 2001 Tim Burton
remake Planet of the Apes, is a violent but surprisingly good reboot to
the classic series. The first film, directed by Burton and starring Mark
Whalberg and Helena Bonham Carter, had stellar cinematic promise,
but turned out to be a let down, which is why this one’s success was
probably such a surprise. There are many things done right with this
film that Burton’s’ failed to accomplished- for one thing, this one
helmed just the right amount of human touch- even within its numerous
amount of chimp characters. The film holds a generally fast pace and
manages to keep the viewer glued to the screen at all times- there’s
never a dull moment. Rupert Wyatt (who debuted with the prison
breakout film, The Escapist) directs the film with a visual flair and
expertly crafts an intelligent and action packed piece.

The movie chronicles Will Rodman, (James Franco) a San Francisco
scientist who has been trying to develop a cure for Alzheimer's disease
by testing a genetically engineered retrovirus on chimpanzees. The
virus quickly mutates the chimps, enabling them with human-level
intelligence. Will presents the study to the board, and just as they are
about to gain approval, one of the subjects goes berserk and the
operation is shut down. They learn that the chimp that went out of
control was just a mother giving birth, she was simply being protective.
They find the baby chimp under the table, and while the other apes
are sentenced to death, Will sneaks the chimp home and names him
Over the years, Caesar’s mental development increases rapidly and has near-human intelligence. Through further secret
studies, Will learns that the retrovirus was passed down through his mother- seeing the renewed effects of the retrovirus, he
gives some to his ailing father, who is suffering severely from Alzheimer’s and is danger of being put in a home. The effect is
immediate- Will discovers that his father is not only recovering, but improving. He presents his finds to his greedy boss,
Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo), who immediately starts up the project again, and seeing the results, increasing the studies
to dangerous levels.

The effects begin to dwindle on Will’s father
and his condition grows worse- in an act of
defense, Caesar brutally hurts a neighbor,
and is soon put under the care of animal
control until a court date is set. Will tries all he
can to get Caesar back home with him, as well
as trying to get his boss to see reason. But
soon, Caesar begins, for the first time, to
inhabit with his own kind- he finds the
weaknesses of the world he lives in and
through his new intelligence, begins a

As I said before, the film’s greatest strength
was Wyatt’s strong direction- I felt that one of
the biggest faults of last film was the fact that
it centered around the chimps completely - and even when it did do that, it didn’t properly manage good character
development. In this film, the chimps have characters, personalities, and a certain human touch; the human characters are
equally complex and believable.

The script is smart and well written; its plot (which would sound ridiculous in the wrong hands) makes sense here, and I’m
sure scientists everywhere will be very pleased in the careful research done here. However, the scientific details are not so
complicated that the average moviegoer wouldn’t be able to comprehend- it’s conveyed quite simply.

The acting here is excellent all around - James Franco, who plays the lead is excellent here - not award worthy, but certainly
notable. He and Frieda Pinto (who plays Caroline, his veterinarian girlfriend) are both very honest in the portrayals, but the
true star here is Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar. Most commonly remembered as Gollum from the Lord of the Rings trilogy,
Serkis delivers an enthralling performance
as the lead chimp. Well covered by visual
effects, he may be mistaken for CGI, but he
is brilliant, deserving an Academy Award
for his mastery of the nuanced motion-
capture performance.

The greatest achievement this film
manages to make is its heart. It is greatly
felt and emotional, the scenes between
Caesar and Will definite contenders for
guaranteed tearjerker. It is the amount of
heart that separates this film from other sci-
fi/fantasy types and effects-heavy Summer
Blockbusters, and perhaps that’s what
makes it this season’s biggest surprise.
This is a fun, fast paced film that manages
to rise above convention.