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Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a 2011 science fiction film directed by Rupert Wyatt. It stars James Franco, Frieda Pinto, and Andy Serkis. It is a great addition to the Planet of the Apes series which actually tells the origin of the intelligent apes. The movie is distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Plot.  Will Rodman (played by James Franco) is a pharmaceutical scientist who develops a drug to cure Alzheimer’s disease by testing them on chimpanzees. His drug mutates the chimps, giving them human level of intelligence. One of the most successful subjects is the chimp named Bright Eyes. Unknown to the Will and to his them, Bright Eyes has secretly given birth to a male baby. So during a presentation, Bright Eyes goes in a rampage, believing that she and the baby are threatened. Consequently, all the experimental chimps are killed except for the baby whom Will saves and takes home. Will’s father names the baby Caesar and Will raises him in his house. Caesar inherits his mother’s high intelligence and learns things very quickly. After eight years, Caesar has outgrown his environment and has become a highly intelligent ape.

One day, after seeing Will’s father being hurt by a neighbor, Caesar gets suddenly mad and attacks the person. Due to this incidence, Will is forced to surrender Caesar to San Bruno Sanctuary. There, Caesar meets several monkeys, chimps, and orangutan. It has been hard at the beginning but Caesar gently befriends them one by one and gains their respect and trust. However, Caesar is saddened by the fact the staff in the sanctuary are actually treating them bad.

Meanwhile, authorities now believe the efficacy of Will’s drug and so Will is directed to create more powerful drug. Experiments on a bonobo named Koba reveal that it strengthens the intelligence of the apes even further.

Later, Caesar escapes the ape facility and goes home to steal the canisters of drug created by Will. He then returns and releases it through the cage area, enhancing the intelligence of his fellow apes. In a unified decision, the apes break the facility and escape. They also liberated all the other apes in the city. With Caesar leading them all, they aim to cross over the Golden Gate Bridge and go to the redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument.

After a hard-won battle against humans who desperate attempt to block them, the apes successfully enter the redwood forest. In the final heart-breaking scene, Caesar bids farewell to Will.

Commentary. I instantly love this film on first watch. And when was that moment? Just a week ago while riding a bus home. LOL! Yes, it was almost a three-hour travel and the film’s only one and a half hours. Got no entertainment on the bus and so the driver played the movie on DVD. It was excruciating watching it from my seat but it really got me. When I came home, I looked for a copy of the film and watched it all over again.

The movie is a great variation of the many “The Planet of the Apes” versions. Instead of having supernatural apes or apes from other planets, we see common apes made extraordinary by human technology. And for that, I could say that this is one of the most creative and intelligent movies I have ever seen.

What is special about the film is the sentimentality involved. We have seen countless movies about animal cruelty, but this one has added “voice” and “heart” to the animals in a unique way. The main ape, after having exposed with certain drugs, has adapted the ways of man which he later uses to save his kind. That was the most dramatic part, when the apes rise to defend themselves. Their revolt is not vengeance at all – they simply want to go “home.” Without doubt, the movie succeeds in conveying its message of anti-exploitation of our environment and natural resources.

Aside from its beautiful theme, the movie also succeeds in achieving visual and cinematic excellence also.

Reception. Rise of the Planet of the Apes is both financial and critical success. From its budget of roughly $93 million, it grossed to almost $400 million. It also received mostly positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 82% “Certified Fresh Rating” while Metacritic awards it a score of 68.

Rating. This is a beautiful film. But I could only give it four and a half stars. It is relatively short and much more could have had happened.
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