Sunday, August 21, 2011

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The Korean theaters are frustrating me.  We had planned to go see Cowboys and Aliens, but for some reason they're only showing it at really late showings.  The grandparents don't mind babysitting in the afternoon/evening, but want to go to bed early, not stay up watching our son run around not going to sleep while we go enjoy a movie.  So that was out.  Next movie on the list?  Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  So we went to see it yesterday instead.

Minor Spoilers Ahead!

I really enjoyed the movie.  My wife's initial reaction was that it wasn't so good, but she keeps talking about it, so it's definitely made an impression on her.  It was not a perfect movie, but it was a fairly good movie overall, and much improved over the Tim Burton reboot Planet of the Apes from 10-12 years ago. 

The basic plot is that Harry Osborn and Gollum battle Agamemnon and Draco Malfoy.  Just kidding!  I actually did NOT see the actors as their more famous prior characters (well, except for Brian Cox but he seemed more like William Stryker from X-Men 2 than Agamemnon, but then he's pretty much a character actor, isn't he?)

The real story is that a company trying to come up with a treatment for Alzheimer's Disease finds a formula that not only works, but actually increases intelligence.  An accident involving the first test chimp, Bright Eyes (wink wink, nudge nudge, get the reference?  There was a lot of that in this movie.), causes them to scrap the serum, but then the lead scientist finds out that Bright Eyes went nuts because she'd just given birth.  And the effects of the viral gene therapy had passed to her son.

Scientist and Alzheimer's affected dad raise the baby chimp in secret, naming him Caesar.  Caesar is a smart ape, and develops rapidly.  But an incident causes him to be locked in the San Francisco ape sanctuary.  He uses his smarts to become the alpha male, and plots an escape.  He escapes, only to steal more serum from the scientist's house to uplift all the other apes.  The second dose improves Caesar's intelligence again.

And the virus that uplifts the apes just happens to be fatal to humans...

Don't want to give away too much of the ending, but I'll just say that it ends a lot earlier than what I was hoping for, being that the title is "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."  We don't really see the rise, just the very beginnings.  It's more like "Inception of the Planet of the Apes," but maybe they didn't want to get into any skirmishes with the folks that made Inception.

There were a couple of big plot holes that I noticed, but for the most part the story is solid.  The effects were good.  There were only a few times when the various apes looked overly CGI.  The acting was pretty good.  It actually took me most of the movie to finally place where I'd seen Tom Fenton before (Malfoy in the Harry Potter movies), hence my little joke above.  All in all, it was entertaining.

I don't know that I really want a sequel to be made, though.  Even though I said above I was hoping to see more of the actual formation of the Ape world, I don't know if we need a reconceptualized remake of Battle for the Planet of the Apes.  There's something that just can't be recaptured from the original movie, and while it's likely going to be entertaining watching a new series of films, doing them in chronological order instead of more or less reverse order could make the latter films less entertaining, I'm guessing.  Well, we'll see.


  1. The space crew to Mars being lost could make for a great sequel.

  2. Ah, now the virus makes sense. Well it doesn't make sense, but it answers my question from the trailers, which was how chimps -- even really clever chimps -- could take over a world where the people have got machine guns and tanks. If everyone's also dying of a virus, then that explains it.