Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie review

Last week I watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes on DVD. I wasn’t expecting much from it to be honest, but it looked vaguely interesting. I stuck it into the player expecting to watch maybe 30 minutes of it. In the end it was quite entertaining and I ended up watching the whole thing.

In a nutshell it’s a prequel story setting up how the apes got intelligent. Never mind that the third movie in the series established a terminator-style time loop where Roddy McDowell’s ape went back to the 1970s.

In the new movie we have James Franco (Harry from the Spider-man series) trying to develop medicine that will cure people from alzheimer’s disease. He has a personal reason for doing so as his father (played by John Lithgow) is deteriorating from the condition.

The medicine is being tested on apes to whom it gives a greater than normal intelligence. He has promising results from a female ape he calls “Bright Eyes” but the research gets halted. He takes her baby ape Caesar home and realises the intelligence has been passed on to him.

The apes all appear to have beon done by CGI and it’s pretty impressive. Much screen time is taken by Ceaser and his ape followers and the performances are good enough to forget you are watching an extended visual effect.

There’s lots of nice little nods to the original movies. I probably missed some but here are a few of the ones I caught.

  • At the start of the movie apes are hunted and captured in a jungle much like the humans are in the first movie.
  • Obviously naming the main ape Caesar.
  • His mother is nicknamed Bright Eyes – What Charlton Heston’s astronaut character was called by the apes in the first movie.
  • A female ape called Cornelia is mentioned.
  • Caesar makes a model of the Statue of Liberty.
  • In the ape house a nasty keeper shouts “It’s a madhouse!”
  • He also gets Hestons’s other famous line “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!”
  • Caesar gets hosed with water in his cell.
  • We see Caesar ride a horse near the end of the movie.
  • Towards the end of the movie a space mission blasts off for Mars. Later contact is lost with the crew. Is an astronaut called Taylor on board?
  • We get to see chimps, an orangutan and a gorilla – the three “castes” of apes from the original movies.

I suspect the movie may have had it’s ending altered to not be quite as bleak as it could be. We discover that the aerosol medicine that makes the apes more intelligent causes the death of at least one human lab worker when he gets infected. Before he dies he managers to sneeze blood over another human, the implication being he infected him as well. I assumed the movie would end with humans either subcuming to the illness or survivors becoming less intelligent.

However it was an entertaining movie well made. I suspect I’ll watch it again before too long.

Update. It turns out there is a further scene during the closing credits that does give the movie a bleak ending. The infected neighbour (played by David Hewlett from Stargate Atlantis) is an airline pilot and brings his infection to the airport, thereby spreading it throughout the world. So that’s jolly.