Archived: Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) - archived

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

You’re probably thinking, not another Planet of the Apes movie? Again? I was like you, having suffered through enough of the Apes films already, especially Tim Burton’s more modern retelling with an ending so bizarre it made me want to throw faeces at the screen, I really didn’t think rebooting the Apes franchise was the right step to take. I was wrong.

James Franco stars as Will Rodman, a scientist trying to perfect a formula to cure Alzheimer’s. He is spurred on by his father, Charles (John Lithgow), who suffers with the disease and is testing the cure on Apes.

After one of the infected Apes shows huge signs of aggression and runs rampant during a presentation for the cure the funding is pulled and the apes ordered to be destroyed. But left in the aftermath of the chaos is a baby ape, Caesar (Andy Serkis), who the humans can’t bare to put down. Will takes him home and Caesar bonds with Charles.

They discover that Caesar has elements of the formula in him, passed from his mother during childbirth, and he begins to exhibit advanced brain capacity.

Will and his father keep Caesar at home as a pet but when Charles has a bout of Alzheimer’s and is being harassed in the street, Caesar leaps to his defence, biting the thumb off of the aggressor, meaning he is taken away from the family.

The facility where Caesar is kept is by no means the happy home it perceives itself to be and inside, Caesar plots a great escape to free himself and his fellow ape as they go to war with their human captors.

This really was such a surprise hit for me, even Tom Felton (who utters the infamous lines) managed to shrug off Draco Malfoy and shine as one of the evil ape guards. There was so much emotion and heart in the film that really exudes from the actors who are on such fine form. Franco and Lithgow are especially incredible and whilst there has since been Oscar buzz around Andy Serkis’ and another motion-capture performance from him, neither Franco or Lithgow should be left out.

Due to its critical acclaim there has been sequel conversations and undoubtedly there will be one, but what makes Rise so charming is that you don’t have a bunch of Apes talking (with the exception of the crafty sign language). Without the ability to speak to one another the apes had to rely on different forms of communication and its this that really was the genius behind the reboot. It’s not people in rubber monkey masks it’s actors emoting with passion and that is what you feel when watching.

The surprise hit of 2011, this is most definitely one of my favourite films of the year and rightly so, everything about Rise is so right, putting bed the nightmares of the franchise before.

Archived: Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) - archived

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