In order to find a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, a lab in San Francisco tests drugs on apes. One of these apes has a baby and the drugs in her body are passed on to her offspring. As the baby isn’t wanted by the lab he is due to be destroyed so scientist, Will Rodman, takes him away to ensure his safety. As the ape, now called Caesar, grows older, his intelligence increases but when he attacks a man he sees hurting Will’s father, he is put in a sanctuary for apes run by cruel owners. Seeing how humans treat apes and using his intelligence to his advantage, Caesar trains the other apes and leads an uprising that has the potential to change the world as we know it.  

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011) – Director: Rupert Wyatt

Is Rise of the Planet of the Apes appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 105 mins

Starring: James Franco, John Lithgow, David Oyelowo

Genre: Drama, Science Fiction

 

REVIEW

While it could be seen as a prequel to all the other ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ is actually an origins story for a new series of films, the second of which is due for release in 2014. It starts the story in modern day San Francisco with the controversial subject of animal testing for useful, effective medicines. While the movie shows the different sides of the argument, it does not get bogged down in the debate and therefore the audience is able to make their own decisions on what they believe is right without feeling guilty either way. There is also a very subtle and clever parallel to black slavery in America and the civil rights movement; the hypocrisy of humanity is highlighted well with the casting of David Oyelowo as businessman Steven Jacobs who treats the apes as commodities to ensure that his company continues to be prosperous.

Rather than actors in animal suits, ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ has instead opted for computer generated effects for the apes (much like Gollum in ‘The Lord Of The Rings’; in fact Caesar is played by Andy Serkis who also played Gollum!). The effects for all of the apes are expertly crafted but special mention must be made to Caesar who has the movements of a chimp but his eyes and certain mannerisms show his very human intelligence, especially compared to all the others. The friendship between Caesar and Will (played by James Franco) is very believable as is the touching dynamic between Will and his father (John Lithgow) who suffers from Alzheimer’s but, thanks to the drugs used on the apes, has the chance of a better life.

There are a few minor plot flaws in the movie, for instance, the other apes react to Caesar’s training very quickly and, when other apes are brought into the uprising, they are remarkably intelligent despite not receiving this training or being exposed to the drugs. Once the final act of the movie gets started it is better not to think too hard about the logic of what is going on, and the shift to constant action is a little jarring after the previously thoughtful build-up. However, these elements do not spoil this film and ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ remains an excellent movie which is well-paced, believable and exciting.

IS ‘RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES’ SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN?

Early in the movie, a troop of Chimps are attacked by several men, they are afraid and try to escape but one is caught in a net and forced into a small metal box. She screams in fear and looks at the rest of the troop (who remain free) as they watch her being taken away.

While in the lab, one of the chimps escapes their enclosure and goes on a rampage in the lab. It attacks people in its desperation to escape but does not seriously injure anyone. When the chimp gets passed the scientists and labs, it smashes through the window where a meeting is being held but a security guard shoots it several times and it slumps onto the table, dead. After this, the owner of the company tells the scientists to destroy the rest of the chimps, the scientists are hesitant and unhappy about this but reluctantly do as they are told.

There is a very touching plot thread involving Will and his father, Charles, who suffers from Alzheimer’s. Charles is a very sympathetic character and John Lithgow’s portrayal of someone who is often confused, frustrated and angry is very believable. Any children who have relatives who suffer from Alzheimer’s or similar afflictions may relate to this character and could become a little upset when his symptoms change his personality.

When Charles’ symptoms cause him to damage his neighbour’s car, his neighbour gets very angry with him and pushes him around, which scares Charles. Caesar is watching from a window and becomes angry with the neighbour for treating Charles badly. He rushes out of the house and attacks the neighbour who runs away but Caesar quickly catches up with him and bites his finger off. The man cries out in pain and some blood is seen but this isn’t too gory. Caesar quickly calms down and realises what he has done; he goes over to Charles and hugs him as they are both afraid and distressed.

When Caesar is taken to the Primate Centre, he is distressed and angry to be left there. One of the keepers is particularly cruel to the apes and, when Caesar upsets him, he responds by showering him with a powerful water hose. When Caesar first enters the main enclosure during the day, he is intimidated when all the apes turn to look at him. The Alpha Male of the group chases him around the enclosure, biting him and causing him to fall from the top of a tree. Both Chimps are then tranquilised before Caesar is injured any further.

The finale of the movie sees the apes attempting an uprising which culminates on the Golden Gate Bridge. The violence isn’t too strong, however there are a few moments where cops are seen to beat the apes with batons, one of the apes is shot and falls from the top of the bridge and one of the more established apes is shot several times in the torso and dies.

CAN I SEE A CLIP?

VERDICT

Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ is a very entertaining movie which nicely sets the tone for a new franchise and we are looking forward to seeing what direction it will be taken in. While there is little in terms of violence in this movie, the themes of animal testing, Alzheimer’s Disease and general mistreatment of animals aren’t exactly child-friendly. We feel that this movie should be suitable for most kids aged 8 and over, depending on their sensitivity to animal cruelty.

  • Violence: 2/5
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (one established character dies and, while the death isn’t too emotional, it is a little unexpected. As previously mentioned, one of the established apes is killed during the uprising)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (one character is beaten when the apes at the Primate Centre escape from their cages and another character is electrocuted and killed)
  • Sexual Content: 0/5
  • Bad Language: 1/5 (some blasphemy and one moderate curse word is used)
  • Dialogue: 0/5
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of friendship, family, the effects of a degenerative disease on the sufferer and their loved ones, discrimination, animal testing and the potential for mankind to be replaced as the dominant species.
  • Keep watching after the initial end credits for an extra scene which will lead into the next movie.

Words by Laura Record

Related Posts

Share this review!Share on Facebook4Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Tumblr0Pin on Pinterest0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Reddit0Digg thisEmail this to someone