Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Studio: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Review Rating: 8 NO!s
Set in current day San Francisco, a Doctor’s attempts at genetic engineering to save his father have far-reaching consequences for one very special primate named Caesar.
I liked it, don’t get me wrong. But I’m still failing to see the point of actually making this movie, unless it really is another shake your finger at me kind of moral view, and if so, don’t tell me ‘cuz I don’t want to hear it. We start off with Doctor Will Rodman, hotshot genetic scientist that works for a private company intent on profit mind you, doing research on a treatment or cure for his father’s Alzheimer’s disease. And of course, for that kind of thing, we have to experiment on apes, primates. Will’s prize ape Lucy, the day of her demonstration of the new genetic cocktails results, goes if you’ll pardon the pun, ape-nuts, busting right through the fancy screen where Rodman’s giving his presentation and completely ruins it. Only later do we find, Lucy had a baby. And Doc Rodman ends up taking that genetically modified baby ape home to his father, who names him Caesar.
At this point, I have to stop and point out that it would really help if you had seen any of the former Planet of the Apes movies, especially that remake one with Mark Wahlberg. The ape Caesar is a cornerstone to that movies backstory, and is a reference point to this current movie. And this is maybe fifteen minutes into Rise, so you may want to come prepared. Aside from the genetic experimentation though, there is almost no Sci-Fi elements, a far cry from the first movie, just so you’re warned.
Caesar is given the entire attic of Doc’s house to live in, he learns at an exponential rate, and seeing this as permission to go ahead, Will starts dosing his father with the same genetic treatments. Caesar grows, portrayed by the excellent actor Andy Serkis and a lot of really marvelous CGI, and the father seems to do fine for a few years, but then his immune system starts fighting the treatments and he begins a decline into dementia again. So the Doc has to go back to the lab and creates a new gene therapy, and he needs more apes to use it on. Right around this time, Doc’s father in the midst of his dementia, gets himself into serious trouble and Caesar just has to come out and rescue him, at the cost of his own personal ape freedom. Animal Control has no sense of humor when it comes to a seriously strong ape taller than I am biting off peoples fingers, so off Caesar has to go to an ape preserve out in the sticks, where there are plenty of other primates for him to talk to. And here, amid tyranny and persecution and clear animal abuse, Caesar hatches an escape plan for all of them.
That is effectively most if not all of the movie. Those big climactic chase scenes in the trailers being shown on tv, where there are a bunch of big nasty primates trying to cross the Golden Gate bridge or tearing a helicopter out of the sky, is like the very end of the movie. And for the most part, the apes are actually not being all that violent, no human is killed, Caesar makes this very clear. They just want to go hang in the redwood forest, man. I say, let em!
Most of these events are entirely plausible, at least from the ape point of view. Gorillas do go smash, apes do have enough intelligence to organize a takeover of a society and a breakout besides, and yes, even be capable of speech, and I don’t mean hand signs. But while it’s fairly good for an origin story, once again the movie is kind of being falsely advertised at the moment. You were warned. Rise of the Planet of the Apes gets a rating of 8 No!s, with the sincere hope that they follow up a good movie with a better sequel! Oh and yes, there is an easter egg at the end, be sure to stay for it.