Not a lot to dislike really in what is probably the year’s best sci-fi effort thus far . . .

Rise of the Planets of the Apes - Movie PosterWhat we liked:

Intelligent script.
If you must go about revamping one of sci-fi’s most lucrative albeit long-in-the-tooth franchises, then this is the way to go about it: an intelligent and unexpectedly moving script with some great story-telling. Let’s face up to it: Rise could easily have been Deep Blue Sea . . . but with monkeys instead of sharks! Instead of going the horror movie route it manages to make its simian protagonists both sympathetic and menacing at the same time, which brings us to . . .

Andy Serkis makes a monkey out of it.
Central to Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the much-hyped special effects by Peter Jackson’s celebrated WETA outfit, which involves CGI apes instead of real ones or actors in monkey suits. Fox is apparently pushing for actor Serkis who played Caesar to be nominated for an Oscar. Good luck with that: Oscar doesn’t like science fiction and doesn’t believe that motion capture performances are real acting. We however believe that Serkis and the team of special effects guys behind should all share that acting Oscar!

Whereas the previous Apes movies touched on issues of the time (racial inequality being uppermost) Rise of the Planet of the Apes taps into our current fears about killer diseases (the Sars scare), science gone amuck and the ethical treatment of animals.

Monkeys go apeshit!
We loved the adrenaline-fuelled climax in which the freed monkeys flee across the San Francisco Bridge. Visceral moviemaking at its best and a lot more thrilling than most of this year’s special effects offerings.

What we didn’t like:

Forced Apes references.
Not a lot to dislike really, but the way the movie tried to tie in with the 1968 classic comes across as a bit forced at times: references to the space mission that will bring Charlton Heston’s astronaut back to Earth, the “damned, dirty ape” line and the chimps being named after characters in the old movies.

Apes canon.
Let’s be honest, the movie doesn’t really fit into with the previous Apes movies, especially the sequels with Tim Burton’s dumb ass remake. SPOILERS! For one thing it implies that humanity is wiped out by the very virus makes the monkeys smarter instead of making them dumb, unspeaking brutes like in the other movies. END SPOILERS!

Apes sequels.
There is talk of another two Apes movies . . . but seriously, what more is there to tell really? But maybe we’ll be as pleasantly surprised by the sequels as we were by this prequel or reboot or whatever you chose to call it.


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Category: Movies, Reviews

About the Author

James has been running The Sci-Fi Movie Page since Before the Beginning of Time Itself (TM), i.e. since the site's inception in 1997. In addition to sci-fi James also likes 1970s motorbikes and chili dogs although he doesn't own the former and no longer eats the latter. He currently resides in Kiev, Ukraine for reasons best left unexplained.

  • Dan O’Neill

    Nice review. I wasn’t actually expecting to be as moved as I did from this material but Serkis just really channeled the inner ape within him, and nails this perfect motion-capture performance as Caesar.



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