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Sci-Fi Movies

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes 239

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can-i-play-the-piano-any-more dept.
The original Planet of the Apes had a lot going for it: a compelling lead, an interesting story, a convincing world, a couple of good quotable catch phrases, and of course the not-really-all-that-surprising twist ending. Of course, it was a bit cheesy too. Different trailers for 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' had me concerned and excited: was it going to be a Sci-Fi film, or an action film? I am pleased to announce that it is mostly the former and it's totally worth checking out. Read on for my brief review.

It's a hollywood blockbuster, so the plot is simple: James Franco is a scientist testing an Alzheimers cure that goes wrong. The test-chimps are all put down, but one was unexpectedly pregnant. Franco has to adopt the baby, whom he raises and teaches. He eventually uses his meds to cure his sick father, and Caesar is taken away to an animal sanctuary where exciting 2nd and 3rd act plot points lead to an action finale.

James Franco really seems to pick good movies to be in. From Freaks and Geeks on, he really seems to land good roles, and this movie was no exception. I've never had a problem buying him as a stoner or spoiled rich kid, but in this movie he gets to show emotion for his Alzheimer's stricken father, passion for his scientific work, and of course love for his ape "child" Caesar. The first half of the movie hangs on this relationship, and Franco holds up his end of the bargain.

Of course, the other side is the CGI rendered, Andy Serkis acted 'Caesar.' The ape was the unexpected child of a mother used to test Franco's Alzheimers cure, which goes horribly wrong and is cancelled. Caesar is a genius monkey who learns to communicate and solve puzzles far beyond a human child of the same age. It must kind of suck being Serkis: his work as Gollum and Kong has typecast him as the 'Performance Capture' poster child, but he does a great job. I buy the emotion in most of the scenes: it's only a few of the action shots where the weight felt wrong to me. For the film to work, Franco, Serkis, and the SFX had to all be pretty much perfect. And for my money, they were.

The rest of the film has some problems: The "Bad Guys" are so unbelievably "Bad" that it makes you want to wince. The zookeeper. The jerk neighbor. The bad boss. They are drawn with such thick black lines, I felt like we lose a lot of the potential for the story. The fact is that Franco is violating medical ethics, there is cruelty being done to animals, innocent people are hurt but because the "Bad Guys" are ludicrously bad, many of the hard issues are glossed over. Franco: Good. People who disagree with Franco: Bad.

As I said above, my fear for the movie was that it would simply be a Transformers style action film. Now, I like Transformers 3 just fine for what it is, but the majority of those movies are simply non-stop, boring action sequences. And I don't much care for that. I love action, but if that's your entire movie, it's pretty tough to carry 2 hours. Fortunately this movie is mostly about the development of Caesar: him struggling to figure out what he is, and finally learning to survive and escape imprisonment. These scenes are interesting and fun. So when we finally get to the dramatic finale atop the Golden Gate Bridge, it's nice to just have the big action release.

Plus Apes wreck stuff. It's pretty awesome.

Also, I don't recommend singing the Simpsons Planet of the Apes Musical during the closing credits. Your wife will get mad at you, even if it was the part you were born to play.

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Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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  • by n1ywb (555767) on Monday August 08, 2011 @12:04PM (#37024162) Homepage Journal
    I love you Dr. Zaius!
  • The two reviews I've read of it basically said the movie was written by monkeys - for monkeys. If you're a human of even remotely human intelligence, you'll pass.

    And the previews - what I can say, looking incredibly dumb - though the graphics look great. So for me, the reviews completely confirmed the obvious conclusion one can draw from the previews.

    I means seriously. This is the fucking PLANET of the apes. The movie should be called one square block of the apes. Let's see, the handful of super intelligent

    • Not sure how the writers handled this (poorly, I'd suspect), but there have been wild monkeys loose in the Ocala national forest for 70ish years since they were accidentally introduced there. If they could relocate or eradicate them without extensive collateral damage, they would have done it long ago. If the monkeys were a little more intelligent / ambitious, I'm sure they could spread from there.

      • by Cyberax (705495)

        There are different levels of threats. Some monkeys in forests scores pretty low.

        Now imagine that these monkeys were, say, confirmed agents of biological apocalypse. Then they'd be dead within _hours_. Personally, I'd just surround the woods, evacuate people and then just use chemical weapons to kill everything that breathes.

        • by GooberToo (74388)

          We have a winner. Those people who keep offering its a plausible story are completely out of touch with reality. I don't think, "plausible", means what they think it does. They seem to be confused because plausible and completely impossible.

          • by gnick (1211984)

            If you can't factor in a little bit of "suspension of disbelief," I'm guessing there are fewer than 10 sci-fi movies you could watch without being annoyed. I've seen a lot, but I can't think of 10 that qualify. I feel sorry for you - there's some good sci-fi out there, but very little that passes the "Could this really happen exactly as depicted?" test. Personally I wasn't expecting to like it being a big fan of the originals, but was pleasantly surprised.

            And they didn't go into how the escaped apes were

        • The water buffalo in the Everglades were a pretty high priority, and they couldn't manage to capture them. I suppose they could have killed them eventually if they wanted, but they managed to roam free in the swamps for a long time.

          In another vein, Osama Bin Laden was a pretty high priority... and the apes won't be trackable by the means that finally brought him down.

          • by Cyberax (705495)

            Well, "Everglade preservation" is not kinda the same as "the preservation of human species". And unlike Osama you won't need to search for him - we can just go genocidal on the whole species (well, we are sort of doing this already).

            • by stdarg (456557)

              If we found an intelligent subspecies of dolphin that could communicate with us, would you immediately be like "oh kill them all because they might take over the world?"

              • by Cyberax (705495)

                Certainly not.

                I'm talking about a case where some species represent an existential threat to humans.

    • You Maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!

      The apes don't win against humans; the humans do in themselves first.

    • by Tei (520358)

      I think you are wrong.

      The movie is about the start. These monkeys are supposed to grown on the forest, and grown to milllions, while the humans will suffer the epidemic.

      The movie make a good work to show how monkeys are way more versatile and powerfull than humans, making humans feel idiotic and unadecuate.

      The movie is very good at setting a start for a possible suppremacy of monks. But is sets maybe 4000 years before monkeys end the work :D

    • by mattack2 (1165421)

      What a buzzkill.

      I guess you hated Jaws too? "Get out of the water. Problem solved."

      (Knock knock. Who's there? Land shark..)

    • You haven't even seen it.

      I have and I thought that it was excellent. It was exciting, well acted, well handled, and just generally very good.

      I give it 8/10.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.strimoo.com/video/16728738/Planet-of-the-Apes-The-Musical-Veoh.html [strimoo.com]

    It's hard to find a good video due to Fox being so strict. But this is still one of the funniest scenes Simpsons scenes of all time.

  • NPR played a great interview with Andy Serkis [npr.org] last week. He has no trouble with being "typecast", but after hearing that interview I definitely will chase up Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll [timesonline.co.uk]. Serkis sounded so much like Ian Dury.

    And off topic some more, we already know about trying to raise a monkey as a human baby [npr.org]
  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Monday August 08, 2011 @12:14PM (#37024298)

    It is not a great movie, but it was good. My wife was sad for the apes, and that kind of detracted from her experience (she really likes science fiction). I was rooting for the Apes the whole way and I liked it.

    The CGI is the best. At one point animated clothing is ripped off an animated ape. Only now, as I'm writing this, does it sink in show technically awesome that was.

    The review is correct about the moral stupidity of the movie. Franco's unethical behavior and his exploitation of the primates is glossed over, while the Anti-Franco people are all evil.

    It was fun, though. I didn't want it to end.

  • by LMacG (118321) on Monday August 08, 2011 @12:15PM (#37024308) Journal

    > was it going to be a Sci-Fi film, or an action film?

    As long as it's not a Syfy film!

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      > was it going to be a Sci-Fi film, or an action film?

      As long as it's not a Syfy film!

      I'm suprised the Sy Fi channel hasn't come out with "Rise: The planet of the Apes" (with the addition of a colon) in the same way that there was "Battle:Los Angeles" and "Battle Of Los Angeles". Or will we get Mega-Piranha/Shark/Gator/Crocodile/Octopus vs Dino-Ape/Monkey?

      • by vlm (69642)

        > was it going to be a Sci-Fi film, or an action film?

        As long as it's not a Syfy film!

        I'm suprised the Sy Fi channel hasn't come out with "Rise: The planet of the Apes" (with the addition of a colon) in the same way that there was "Battle:Los Angeles" and "Battle Of Los Angeles". Or will we get Mega-Piranha/Shark/Gator/Crocodile/Octopus vs Dino-Ape/Monkey?

        Wouldn't they have to cancel / rearrange the wrasslin' and ghost huntin' shows? That sounds like a lotta work.

        • by berashith (222128)

          Mega-Piranha/Shark/Gator/Crocodile/Octopus vs Dino-Ape/Monkey?

          When does this one release. Sounds totally bad ass.

  • by kmdrtako (1971832) on Monday August 08, 2011 @12:15PM (#37024312)

    Where one is it sorta sucks, and five is it really sucks.

  • Great. Another "science will destroy us all" theme. Maybe Will Smith could show up as Robert Neville and attack the apes with the cancer-cure-gone-all-wrong from I Am Legion.

    The "Bad Guys" are so unbelievably "Bad" that it makes you want to wince.

    Nothing new there. Hollywood sucks at creating compelling villains. It's why the Green Lantern movie gave us Yet Another Evil Space Cloud.

    • by bkaul01 (619795)

      I Am Legion.

      Is that the one with a herd of zombie pigs running off the cliff?

    • by Thuktun (221615)

      Great. Another "science will destroy us all" theme.

      Good news everybody! We're all going to die...but with SCIENCE!

  • and rather enjoyed it. The ending was different from what I expected or thought it might be, but given the nature of apes, a much more fitting ending than the one I imagined.

    the only people the apes kill are the ones that deserved it. on the other side, lots of apes were killed by people.

  • The thing that impressed me the most, as well as dissapointed me the most, was that the CGI Caeser's acting was better than all the human actors. Part of it was bad writing keeping the actors from being anything more cardboard cutouts, but the Caeser's facial expressions really conveyed what he was going through. I was impressed by that. The rest of the movie, though, felt a little flat in comparison.

    • by vlm (69642)

      The thing that impressed me the most, as well as dissapointed me the most, was that the CGI Caeser's acting was better than all the human actors.

      Does anyone on /. know of any purely CGI acted movies? I'm not talking about anime, or even rotoscoped like "scanner darkly" but a movie where all the actors are "realistic looking computer generated human beings"? Like all tech, I'm sure the pr0n industry will implement it first...

      • by Xylaan (795464)
        Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within? Or are you talking about where all of the actors performances were done via motion capture? Avatar comes closer to the latter, but obviously isn't entirely done that way.
      • Does anyone on /. know of any purely CGI acted movies? I'm not talking about anime, or even rotoscoped like "scanner darkly" but a movie where all the actors are "realistic looking computer generated human beings"? Like all tech, I'm sure the pr0n industry will implement it first...

        I think one of the first was Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within [wikipedia.org]. Not a great film, but the tech is impressive for its era (2001).

        The best example is probably James Cameron's Avatar. All the aliens were computer-generated, and the acting for them is pretty good. Of course it's not as good as Andy Serkis in 'Rise'....

      • by gorzek (647352)

        I'm not sure what you mean, although Polar Express might fit the bill. The human actors in that were mocapped but it was a 100% CGI film.

      • by Nephilium (684559)
        How about Beowolf [wikipedia.org]?
      • by dzfoo (772245)

        Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within, and Beowolf.

        Beware, however, that both fall rather hard smack-dab in the bottom of the uncanny-valley.

                -dZ/

    • by sconeu (64226)

      Here's [latimes.com] an LA Times article on Serkis and his role as Caesar.

  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Monday August 08, 2011 @12:25PM (#37024464) Homepage

    Most of the naysayers who haven't seen this film are complaining that they don't believe a handful of apes could take over the entire planet.

    Well, they don't. Get over that. This is a prison breakout movie. They do eventually own the planet, through a twist that's telegraphed in advance and completely plausible. But the main action is a couple hundred apes against the San Francisco PD.

    Just go see the movie. It's very, very good, completely plausible, with no plot holes. (Although as mentioned, some of the humans in it do act stupidly evil.) And Serkis deserves an Oscar nod for the role.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      Apes have already taken over the planet, you insensitive fool!

    • by AdamThor (995520)

      They do eventually own the planet, through a twist that's telegraphed in advance and completely plausible.

      I guess I figure not so much, if your bio-research lab has any protocol at all for accidental exposure.

      • by Straif (172656)

        By far the biggest plot hole in the movie.

        I liked the movie in general but that entire scene of them administering the newly redesigned drug was sooooo painful to watch. From the delivery method to their security procedures it made me wish I had gone for a snack break and missed those 5 minutes. I would have rather just heard someone describe it, after the fact, and assumed it couldn't be as bad as they made it sound then to see such a blatantly bad scene be projected on screen just to push the story alo

  • Plus Apes wreck stuff. It's pretty awesome.

    First there's all the stories about comic book movies aimed at 12-year olds, now we're getting spammed about another crappy film you couldn't pay me to see, written by what seems to be a third-grader. Since when did Slashdot become "news for nerds with room temperature IQs?"

    • by idontgno (624372)

      Since when did Slashdot become "news for nerds with room temperature IQs?"

      I dunno, when did you join?

      I kid, I kid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      First there's all the stories about comic book movies aimed at 12-year olds, now we're getting spammed about another crappy film you couldn't pay me to see, written by what seems to be a third-grader. Since when did Slashdot become "news for nerds with room temperature IQs?"

      Did you ever care to think that people may not need "ambient temperature" IQ's to enjoy a movie or story? What kind of entertainment gets you? The Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy? Herp derp 42. Dune? Herp derp spice spice spice space worm spice.

      You can degrade anything into mindless drivel if you want, but it doesn't change the fact that it can entertain us for a few hours from aspects of life that are not entertaining (e.g. filing expense reports after a business trip).

      Take your arrogance and shove it where

    • When we started measuring in Kelvin
    • by gatkinso (15975)

      I find it kind of warm in here....

  • They ruined this moving by removing the paradox that Cesar was the "son" of Xera. He wasn't genetically modified. He was smart because he was the son of smart/evolved apes.
    • by ildon (413912)

      Even in the original Planet of the Apes series of movies, the original timeline that led to the ape future was unaltered. Xera going back in time and Caesar initiating the revolt actually resulted in a different future where apes and humans lived together peacefully rather than the ape future that Taylor visited. This is established in Battle For the Planet of the Apes.

      • by SpeZek (970136)
        That's somewhat disputed. I remember at the end of Battle, when all seems to have changed, there's a shot of a statue of Ceasar while a voice-over questions what the future holds. The movie ends with the statue shedding a tear. It's quite ambiguous what the tear represents, but it's not a stretch to say that it means that, ultimately, Ceasar's plan for a unified planet fails and we end up with the apes in control again, giving the circular timeline.
    • In this movie "Bright Eyes" is Cesar's mother - the same nickname given to Taylor. The subtext is that Charlie Heston was reincarnated as a female chimp!

  • no it doesn't. not everyone wants to be julia roberts or another top tier star. they don't even make that much money after all the taxes and agent fees are accounted for.

    i bet Serkis loves his job because he never leaves the studio, doesn't have to travel around the world all the time and is always there for his kids while making a very nice living and not seeing most of his money go to agents, publicists, accountants and lawyers

    • by MojoRilla (591502)

      i bet Serkis loves his job because he never leaves the studio, doesn't have to travel around the world all the time and is always there for his kids while making a very nice living and not seeing most of his money go to agents, publicists, accountants and lawyers

      Wrong.

      According to NPR [npr.org], motion capture actors now perform on the real set wearing a Lycra bodysuit covered with dots. Both live action and motion capture cameras "capture" the scene.

      According to the interview, Serkis doesn't see any differe

  • Attack the Block is currently the best sci-fi movie I know of in theatres (though very FEW theatres). Much less humorous than the premise or trailers make it out to be, but there is a fair amount of humour in it.

  • So is Andy Serkis the new Kevin Peter Hall?
  • by prefec2 (875483) on Monday August 08, 2011 @12:57PM (#37024884)

    In the original "Planet of the Apes" movie, this kind of plot was chosen to show us humans, how we behave and how stupid and violent it is.
    First, it pointed out that humans destroyed earth after all, because of the usual things: greed, stupidity and being power hungry morons. Second, it changed the perspective for humans. Now humans are the animals and the apes are those who control the world. Humans are mistreated and used for experiments without any doubt in the action. Just as we humans did and do. Third, it shows that the apes, who call themselves superior (being a little bit chauvinistic at this point), that they would not resolve their problems in violence. However, in the end they do. In that part it discusses the problem with unequal power inside a society can result in problems when not controlled properly.

    The way to broach those issues were good and typical for the time the movie was made. All this World War III stuff can be seen in different movies, books and other creative work. However, nowadays such plot is more than lame. The idea of being taken over by apes is not very convincing. Even if apes are twice as smart as a human (which is not possible, due to energy constraints). We humans are 6 billion entities 1/12 has guns. On the other side, there are at top most a million apes (I doubt that there are still that many of them) without guns. And the very idea of fire weapons is, that physical power does now longer count. So the apes are largely outnumbered and outgunned.

    But the top most thing is, our cultural context changed since 1963 (book)/1968 (movie) and it does not make sense to discuss these issues in a move in the same way. A much more convincing plot would be a world, were we eradicated almost all animals and un-diversified plant life in such a way that some simple deceases destroy all our crops and humans die out (almost) due to food shortage.

    Such movies are however, difficult because the transition takes so long. You either use the Roland Emmerich approach and let happen a deep freeze in days instead of decades or you try to do a 12 Monkeys approach. YOu not necessarily need time travel, but it is a method to connect the move past and the move present.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually I really liked the original movies because of the way the arc went.
      You had the planet of the apes which was your typical cautionary tale. You can read into it so may subjects from violence to racism.
      Then you had beneath the planet of the apes which I feel was the worst of the four. More of a cautionary tale and both sides are just evil and everybody dies.
      Then you had escape from the planet of the apes where you saw a chance and humans where good or acting out of fear and terror but there was both a

    • by flitty (981864)
      I actually really appreciated the update to the format. The original movie beats you over the head with symbolism and was never subtle about it. This movie made the apes, you know, apes. There are two very, very interesting Ape stories that should be required if you are going to watch Rise. The first, as others have mentioned is Project Nim, and the second is a story about an ape named Lucy. There is a great hour long program by NPR called Radiolab where they talk about the Lucy Story for nearly an hou
  • The most loved sci-fi shows Star Trek, Dr. Who were famous for not so great special effects. Special effects do not good sci-fi make unless great stories, good acting and good scripts are there too.

    Read the book. It is fantastic. Though the story in the original movie is very different, it holds true to the spirit of the book. Both excellent.

    Watch the original moves, they hold up very well even after 30 years.

  • Would have been a much better ending.

  • This is the kind of disclaimer that should be right at the top.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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