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Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)
Movie Review by The Gravedigger

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011) In the near future, in San Francisco, a scientist, Will Rodman (James Franco) invents a drug that enables the brain to repair itself. His motivation is that his father (John Lithgow) has Alzheimers and he wants to cure it. One of the chimps he tests, a female named Bright Eyes, quickly becomes intelligent and can do any puzzle thrown at her. But during a fundraising meeting she escapes and has to be gunned down. Rodman discovers she was just being protective of her newborn son. Rather than have him destroyed, Rodman secretly takes the green-eyed chimp home and raises him. This is Caesar. He has him for eight years, during which time he insists he's his father and treats him like a son. But this all ends when Caesar tries to protect Rodman's father, who he sees is being threatened by a neighbor. After this incident Caesar has to be kept at a chimp refuge, which is basically set up like a prison. The Dodge Landon, the son of the guy who runs it, taunts the apes and treats them like prison inmates. Caesar knows he's more intelligent than the other apes and wants to help them. What's cool is that he knows sign language and is able to communicate with a former circus orangutang. Then he plans an escape--and a way to make all the apes more intelligent by exposing them to the drug that had made him smarter. However, this same virus has an adverse affect on humans-- it kills them. There's a climactic confrontation on the San Francisco bridge as the simians try to make it for safety. Basically, the entire more is a "re-emagining" of CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES. Throughout the film there are references to a manned Mars mission that has gone awry--and the astronauts have disappeared, which I'm sure is a hint as to what will happen in the next APES movie, when these astronauts will return to an ape-ruled planet Earth sometime in the future. Maybe the next film will be an update of BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES...

Unlike the Tim Burton re-imagining of 2001, the Apes here are not made more intelligent by human DNA-- they are their own creature. And instead of actors in ape-makeup they are all rendered via computer animation by Weta Workshop, who had done such an amazing job on KING KONG. The effects are impressive. There are some "in-jokes", such as the Orangutan having the name Maurice (Maurice Evans portrayed the original Dr. Zaius) and a scene in which a zoo keeper, "Dodge Landon" (named after the two astronauts from the original PLANET OF THE APES movie), exclaims "Get your damn dirty hands off me" when Caesar attacks him. If you've never seen any of the original Apes movies this is a great introduction. If you're a fan of the classic series this will not be a disappointment. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES is far better than I ever expected it to be. Highly recommended.

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