Ape shall never kill ape.
To the best of my memory, that catchphrase didn’t appear in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. However, this 2011 installment makes all sorts of fun references to the original set of Planet of the Apes films (1968-1973). I was skeptical at first, but Rise turned out to be a worthy addition to this gigantic sci-fi series about a bunch of monkeys that have taken over the world.
The story of Rise concerns a virus invented by James Franco’s character that is able to increase your intelligence. Through certain events, this virus ends up inside a chimpanzee named Caesar, and he is the one who will lead the apes to world domination. Freida Pinto appears as Franco’s love interest, but her character is quite redundant and her acting isn’t good anyway.
The hot topic is Andy Serkis, who does an amazing motion capture performance as Caesar himself. Although Caesar is a CGI character, you are still able to connect with him. Whenever he feels happiness, anger, or sadness, you can feel it too. All the CGI monkeys might look a little fake, but you will get used to it eventually and perhaps even find yourself rooting for these computer generated creatures.
Where this film misses the mark, is that I don’t think it is as unique or thought-provoking as the original Planet of the Apes films. Rise touches on animal cruelty for a while, but later on becomes more of a monomyth where it’s just Caesar leading his army to victory. The conclusion of Rise is a bit anti-climatic, and we never get to see what the title suggests.
In the end, the good points outweigh the bad points. The character of Caesar is interesting and emotional, there is a good amount of exciting action, and the score by Patrick Doyle (Thor) elevates the entire film. Just like 2009’s reboot of Star Trek, Rise of the Planet of the Apes will pull in new fans and make them interested to go check out the old stuff. (Just leave out the Marky Mark version!)