Quickly thrown together movie reviews – Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (12)

I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve always had a extreme fear of apes.  From King Kong to Dunston Checks In I’ve had a horrible uneasy feeling when I see a primate on the screen.  Maybe its because they represent the savagery of our ancestors or maybe its because they have those freaky hands for feet.  Knowing all this you’ll understand why I was chilled by the trailer for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  Scenes of apes watching people as they slept or dropped from trees to attack humans scared the life out of me.  However after seeing the full movie I don’t know if I was relieved or dissapointed as you’ll read below.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes or ROTPOTA as I’ll call it from now on is a prequel to 1968’s Planet of the Apes about a world ruled by apes. If you haven’t seen it then what the have you been doing?  Anyway the big spoiler is that it is earth in the future. ROTPOTA sets out to explain how this comes to be. James Franco plays a young scientist meddling in creating a cure for Alzheimer’s (hasn’t he watched deep blue sea?) by testing on chimpanzees the result of which is a super smart chimp he names Caesar.  Things take a turn for the worse when Caesar begins to question his place in the world and why an intelligent creature is treated like an animal.  That’s when the monkey shit hits the fan and the film gets to what it promised, a full on primate/human smackdown.

First the good points about ROTPOTA.  The special CGI chimps, gorillas and orangutans are beautifully created, making you forget that no actual primates were used in the making of the film.  Also Caesar himself is full of emotion making the viewer empathize with his plight.  His progress from cute, childlike chimp friend to bitter, ruthless leader of the ape uprising is handled well with much of this down to another great motion capture performance by Andy Serkis. And the idea of creatures equally intelligent as humans being treated like animals is something that the film gets across without being heavy handed and the climax where our hairy friends go apeshit (sorry, I had too) actually has you rooting for them.

This confusion over who we should get behind is the biggest problem faced by ROTPA.  None of the human characters aside from James Franco and John Lithgow are sympathetic in any way meaning the fear and excitement I experienced during the trailer gives way to rooting for the apes to dispatch humans in as cool a way as possible.  The fact that Caesar wont allow his monkey crew to kill humans takes away much of their threat making it more like an episode of the A-Team and less like the bloody revolution I was hoping for. 

For all these missed oppurtunities ROTPOTA is still a well made, action filled creature feature which knows the benefits of taking its time with building the character of its main hero/antagonist.  The set pieces are well made including a standout scene on the golden gate bridge with a showdown between the ape army and some really rubbish policemen who wouldn’t have looked out of place during the London riots.  There are little winks and nods to the original movie and its set up well for a sequel but next time can we have the apes bare their teeth a bit more and it might rekindle my phobia of them instead of making me want to beat my chest and climb the nearest tree. Right now I welcome our primate overlords.  Hail Caesar!

13 comments

  1. Pretty good for a first post … I’ll be my usual anal self and tell you it needs to be proof read 😛 But great analogy of the film – not that I’ve seen it yet, but it didn’t give too much away (that I couldn’t have worked out for myself given the many other versions / prequel / sequels or whatever they are) and the things that you pointed out and the reviews you gave seemed well thought out and structured, and funny in all the right places. You’re a natural! I look forward to the next one 🙂

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    • Hey thanks, that means a lot coming from an old pro 🙂 yeah I’m crap at proof reading and I wrote it on my phone. Ill definitely use my lap top next time. And you have no idea how a hard it is to come up with more words for ‘ape’! I’m going to take more time over the next one. Think I was overeager to get it out there and see what happened. Thanks for your advice, its really helpful 🙂

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  2. Keep at it. Blogging is a lot of fun if you work at it, I know I’m enjoying myself.

    As to the movie, you nail the key point that surprised me about it. The Apes arent the villains, theyre the heroes. You also make note of the fact that the makers “chickened out” by not allowing the Apes to kill anyone. I think they were afraid that if the Apes were killing people, we wouldnt root for them.

    Good review. Good luck with your blog!

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    • Thanks! I’m still getting the hang of it. Just started this morning! I’m new to word press so it’ll be interesting to read other blogs and hopefully pick up tips. I’m also looking forward to watching a movie that I really hate because I think it would be great fun to write about! Thanks for your feedback

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  3. Actually Mike, thats one thing (and I’m new to this too) that I’ve really been loving. I have an excuse to see every single movie I want now, and its no longer “goofing off” or “wasting time” now I’m “working on my blog” !

    When you review the movies you watch, you also start to see them differently as you watch them too, I’ve found that cool.

    Good luck, I’ll stop back!

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  4. Went to see the film last night and your review is spot on. I disagree
    with your gripe that the apes didn’t kill the humans though. The
    whole point of that I think was to prove that Ceasar was vastly
    superior morally to most humans (well in my view anyway!)…

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  5. Nice first post, Captain Cornhole!! Wow – almost three years ago! And look at you now – exposing yourself to everyone. And, by everyone, I mean EVERYONE.

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