The Planet Of The Apes Films – Part 7 of 8: Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)

Scientist Will Rodman works for a pharmaceutical firm. His Father is suffering from Alzheimer’s – so Rodman is desperately trying to find a cure.

When testing the drug on primates they have an unexpected success with a female chimp. Shortly afterwards she mysteriously goes completely berserk resulting in her being destroyed.

Rodman then discovers she was protecting a baby whom she’d given birth to in secret.

Not wanting to destroy him, Rodman takes the baby ape home to live with him and his father. They give him the name Caesar.

Rodman secretly tests the drug on his father – who almost immediately shows vast improvement from his condition. Rodman meets primatologist Caroline Aranha and the two fall in love.

As Caesar grows to adulthood he shows remarkable intelligence on a human level. Rodman theorises that this is due to the benefits of the drug used on his Mother, passed on in utero.

After a few years the drug begins to wear off and his Father begins to deteriorate again. When suffering an episode he is attacked by a neighbour.  This enrages Caesar who rushes to his aid, injuring the assailant.

Rodman is forced to place Caesar in an ape sanctuary run by sadistic wardens. After the brutal treatment administered to him and others of his kind – Caesar plans a revolt…

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is a triumph. 

Director Rupert Wyatt crafts the best franchise reboot since Batman Begins. It wipes away the shitty taste left by the 2001 “reimagining” – and on it’s own merits is the equal of the classic 1968 original (it’s great fun to spot the references too!)

Oddly it doesn’t tell a new version of the original’s story. It’s more influenced by the fourth movie in that series Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes. It’s clearly not an actual remake of that. It just picks that point in the saga’s history to begin the new iteration of the story.

Andy Serkis is a revelation as Caesar in a stunning performance rendered in motion capture. Caesar isn’t a special effect. He’s a real character – and the expertise used to bring him to life is really rather remarkable. Motion capture has obviously come on leaps and bounds since 2011 – but at the time this was easily the best anyone had ever seen.

The human characters are not forgotten amid the groundbreaking visual effects – and that really is one of this movie’s unexpected key strengths. A lot of time is devoted to Rodman Sr’s Alzheimer’s story – and John Lithgow gives a heartbreaking performance as a once great and intelligent man stricken by a cruel illness.

I have a background of care work and I have worked with patients suffering from all kinds of dementia related illnesses. I can say that this movie really treats the issue with the respect it deserves.

James Franco also does well as Rodman. In a lot of ways this should have been an unlikable character but Franco injects him with a degree of warmth and humanity.

As for the villains – Brian Cox and Tom Felton are thoroughly hateful as the cold hearted rulers of the ape sanctuary and David Oyelolo is wickedly slimy as Rodman’s heartless boss. It’s quite satisfying to see these heartless bastards get what is coming to them.

As good as everyone is here – this movie is Andy Serkis’ show. He never lets us forget it.

My step-son used to always be my cinema buddy. I used to drag him along to everything I saw. I initially wasn’t all that interested in seeing Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. I absolutely despised the 2001 movie (and still do) – and I wasn’t the biggest fan of James Franco (although he’s grown on me in recent years).

My step-son used to always complain that I hated everything I saw. That I was too harsh a critic. When we used to go see a film he’d often joke “Why are we bothering? You’re just going to hate it.”

One day I was working on a Saturday morning. I had the afternoon off and a colleague of mine was telling me about this film. I shook my head and just said that it didn’t really interest me. He said I should take a look at it because I’d probably be surprised.

The movie had been out for quite a while at the time and was nearing the end of it’s run in cinemas.

When I got home that afternoon I actually REALLY quite fancied a trip to go see a film. I had an afternoon to kill. So I just said to my step-son “Come on lad, let’s go see a film. That Apes movie will do.”

We both left the cinema amazed. I was amazed at what a bloody brilliant film it was – and the boy was amazed that I actually liked something! As the film played out – I kept leaning over to him saying “This is brilliant!” 

How could a reboot of the Planet Of The Apes movies be this fantastic?

You know what I really love a film to do? Surprise me. Stun me. Give me a moment that makes my jaw drop. If a movie can do that – then that alone gives it a free pass from me. For life.

This movie had a moment like that.

When Caesar said “No!” I actually gasped. 

It’s still to this day one of the most incredible moments I’ve seen in any movie.

Toward the end of the movie as Caesar frees his fellow apes from the sanctuary and the laboratory where he was born I can remember gripping my armrests with tension.

Then as they made their daring escape across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Redwood Forests that surround San Francisco – I couldn’t believe that I almost didn’t go to see this film!

Boy am I glad I did!

This movie is the perfect blockbuster. It has a REAL story, REAL characters, great action and visual effects – all in a crisp and economical run time which clocks in at under two hours.

It’s core message is that old sci-fi staple. Never play God. It’s not particularly original but who cares when it’s done this well?

One gripe? This movie was originally going to be called Rise Of The Apes. I would’ve preferred that title. I mean, how the fuck does a planet rise?

Still – a pretty useless quibble when discussing a film that is this GREAT! 

The Man Who Saved MoviesCaesar Is Home. 

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  • Confession time: I’ve never seen any of these new films. I need to rectify that.

  • Fantastic write up! I’m like you Stu: I didn’t plan on seeing this, sat down thinking I would hate it, and walked out of the theater loving it. On the blu-ray release day I went straight out and bought it. It’s a truly remarkable accomplishment all around.

    • Absolutely agreed!
      Btw – I’ve been working on a new series which starts Wednesday. Unlike anything I’ve done for the site before. I don’t want to ruin it but I think you guys are going to love it. I’m really hoping it goes down well. Stay tuned!

  • MegaDethlok

    I for one love the Altzheimer’s angle that help to provide a detailed explanation of how Apes garnered intelligence.
    And yes, it’s one of the better roboots.The ending was some cryptic shit! Great write up amigo!