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Review – Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (Dan’s Review)

Click poster to for official site.

Click poster to for official site.

With James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Tom Felton and Brian Cox; Running Time 105 minutes; Rated PG-13 (for violence, terror and brief strong language); Written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver; Directed by Rupert Wyatt.

There are some movies made because someone has a burning desire to tell a story and bring it to the screen. Then there are business deal movies. The studio owns a property and someone is sure they can wring some money out of it with a sequel, a prequel, a remake or a “reboot.” There is no reason for RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES to exist except that 20th Century Fox made money on the series in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and because Tim Burton’s 2001 remake failed. So figuring moviegoers have short memories, they serve up this new entry, which misfires as well.

Fans of the original films who try to figure out if this is faithful or is a “Star Trek”-like alternate timeline are just spinning their wheels. No one at Fox gave it much thought, and there’s no reason you should either. Instead, it’s as if they expect us to know nothing at all except the “Planet Of The Apes” brand name. In it, Caesar the chimpanzee is the product of a failed experiment by Will Rodman (James Franco), who is searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s. Will is motivated because his dad (John Lithgow) suffers from the disease. When an experimental treatment on apes goes awry the company orders the animals all destroyed. Will smuggles Caesar out of the lab and raises him. This is followed by a lot of plot churning. Will the experimental drug work on Will’s dad? Will anything come of the “love interest” for Will, played by Freida Pinto? Is that really Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in the “Harry Potter” movies) as a sadistic animal control officer? Is there anything on screen that actually makes us care about any of this?

Finally, the apes revolt and the movie takes leave of its senses. Yes, we accept Caesar has become a super-intelligent ape. Yes, we might even accept that he steals the wonder drug and administers it to the other apes at the animal shelter. However, by the time they’re running amok and liberating their fellows from the local zoo, it is beyond belief that they are able to merge into a large simian army, engaging in coordinated attacks armed only with brute strength and makeshift spears. (In the original series, the intelligent apes had been widely bred and treated as a slave population before the revolt.) An individual human might be in trouble facing such an attack. However the notion that in spite of superior numbers and weapons humanity is doomed against spear-throwing apes is just ludicrous.

Logic be damned. If this is a hit, there can be a whole new series of “Apes” movies, making as little sense. The acting won’t matter. All anyone will want to talk about is how lifelike the combination of Andy Serkis’s moves and the computer animation are in making Caesar seem real. (Serkis did the same for Gollum in “The Lord Of The Rings” movies.) The plot won’t matter. One of the major storylines actually plays out during the closing credits.

The best of the original five movies were notable for serious actors willing to submit to heavy makeup and prosthetics to play the apes, and some occasionally sharp satire about our own world. “Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes” is mostly notable for computer-generated simians clambering up the Golden Gate Bridge. Indeed, you won’t even have to see the movie to see the dramatic climax that sets up future films. Just check the box office report on Monday morning. It’s the only thing people responsible for this film cared about anyway.•••

Do you disagree? Leave your thoughts below, and check out Ed Symkus’s alternate take on the movie here.

North Shore Movies has given this film a score of 2 out of 5.Daniel M. Kimmel is a veteran movie critic and author of a host of film-related books, the most recent being Jar Jar Binks Must Die… And Other Observations About Science Fiction Movies. He teaches film at Suffolk University and lives in Somerville.


About Daniel M. Kimmel

Film critic, author, lecturer.

13 responses »

  1. “Logic be damned” is right. It’s almost as if the reviewer didn’t even watch the movie.

    Who cares if the movie offers human-developed viral pandemic as an explanation for a diminished human population? Who cares if not one scene or line from the movie suggests that humanity would actually be felled by the apes, themselves? Who cares what plot line the movie actually follows?

    I suppose the movie’s writers just weren’t explicit enough for Mr. Kimmel. Maybe instead they should have simply scrolled across the screen the words “Character A develops a human-killing virus. We (almost) all mostly die in the ensuing pandemic. The End.” Perhaps that would have satisfied this reviewer’s inability to read between lines otherwise obvious to even the most dimwitted moviegoers.

    Of course, then Mr. Kimmel might complain about predictability, how pandering or pedestrian that would be, or any other alliterative, literary-sounding garbage he can scrounge together to finalize the pre-drafted review he’d been envisioning, just before he jumps into his dandy Volkswagen to go sit for nearly two unbearable hours and pretend to watch a movie that he already knows is going to be laughable. Oh, poor Mr. Kimmel.

    • lessfrictionless

      Our reviewer could have done with an expansion into the writers’ need to explain the transmission of the virus. But he’s accurate; there are logical steps missing. Was the virus even airborne — beyond the “mist” shot out by the 113’s upgraded delivery system to an aerosol can? How about why is it the apes are described as immune, yet the virus remains in their system long enough to give them the brain benefits? How about why is it that every city succumbs to the epidemic? That’s not how disease works. There is containment. Is it enough for the apes to cough on people themselves? Not explained. Is the transmission via blood alone? Seems to be, if the pilot inhaled a bit of Franklin’s blood and it passed via a torn capillary. If so, how would the pilot have infected anyone else? Let alone so many? Too many unanswered questions, and whether humanity really would have been so affected needed to be better explained.

      • It’s entirely possible that, from just a few people, most of the world could get infected. After all, it has historical precedent. How do you think the Black Plague spread?

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      I do not own a Volkswagen or any other kind of car. Apparently your rich fantasy life enables you to imagine the lives of people you’ve never met.

  2. Congratulations, Dan. You’ve just made yourself look like a fool and the worst kind of critic by reviewing the plot points of a film based on a plot that didn’t even exist in the film itself. Either you didn’t watch the film to it’s completion, or you didn’t watch the film at all, or you simply lack any ability to draw conclusions from the obvious.

    Of course I am referring specifically to your assertion that “the notion that in spite of superior numbers and weapons humanity is doomed against spear-throwing apes is just ludicrous.”

    Well, you’re right — that WOULD be ludicrous! Can you please let us all know what led you to form such an obviously ludicrous conclusion after viewing Rise of the Planet of the Apes, please? Thanks!

    How you could be taken seriously enough to be featured in any way on Rotten Tomatoes is beyond me.

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      Apparently you missed the scene on the Golden Gate Bridge. Perhaps you shouldn’t have gone to the concession stand during the climax of the film.

      • The scene on the Golden Gate Bridge does not lead you to the conclusion that you have drawn. It really does appear that you just were tuning in and out of the movie.

    • lessfrictionless

      Um. I’d like an ape population count per city. It’s quite less. How many are we talking in the entire world, anyway? Let them try to get into military complexes where the real weapons are, especially after the alarms have sounded, the laser targetting planes have launched and the pillboxes are firing with the weaker humans underground.

  3. Film critic watches the trailer ONLY. Film critic draws conclusions based on said trailer, which BECAUSE IT’S A TRAILER, some plot lines may be taken out of context. Film critic writes ridiculous review and, sadly, some people will believe him and miss watching a rather good film.

  4. I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, but it turned out to be a thoroughly well-made and entertaining take on the familiar Ape stories. This is the third reviewer I have just read who should be sacked. One even said the effects weren’t any good, which is actually quantifiably wrong and ill-informed. Yeah – I watched ‘The Wizard Of Oz’ and guess what – tornadoes don’t do that kind of thing! THIS WAS A FANTASY! And a very well-told one at that. Reviewers are just pathetic overpaid hecklers who get a kick from thinking that watching a load of movies makes them experts.

  5. Philip Arlington

    The premise of this review is bogus, and suggests that an unprofessional lack of concentration. It was made very clear at the end that in this version of the story humans (or most of us) are going to be wiped out by a virus, not by apes. However this had been built up to for half the movie. If you can’t stay awake through rather good movies, you are in the wrong line of work.

    • Daniel M. Kimmel

      The premise of this reply is bogus and suggests a fannish inability to accept opposing viewpoints. It was thrown away during the closing credits sequence that the virus was spreading, a clumsy and awkward way to deal with a major plot point. If you can’t accept that not everyone agrees with you about a movie — which was actually rather disappointing — perhaps you should shield yourself from the opinions of others.


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