Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Movie Review - Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Director: Rupert Wyatt
Starring: Andy Serkis, James Franco, John Lithgow
Year: 2011

As a fan of the old series, I had my doubts about a reboot.  When I was a kid I used to watch marathons of the Charlton Heston classics: Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet the Apes.  And then came more: Escape, Conquest, Battle.  They all had pieces of the original storyline, an amazing and fascinating plot that actually supported so many films, that never got old.  But then came the Marky Mark remake.  I think we can all agree that that wasn't the best idea.  It was a complete failure, annoying audiences and disgusting critics.  And so it looked like the ape concept had died, until ten years later someone got the idea to do a reboot/back story.  Like I said, I had my doubts, especially with James Franco as the lead.  But, as it turned out, Franco was barely a main character.  The star was Caesar, the ape who started it all, and he carried the entire film on his back.

Will Rodman is a scientist for a major drug company, attempting to design a cure for Alzheimer's.  His father is afflicted with the disease, slowly slipping away from reality into the confusing confines of his own mind.  Will is desperate for a cure, and when his new drug works successfully on apes he wants it immediately tested on humans.  But when one ape gets out of hand, the project is terminated, leaving Will at square one.  Hope is not completely lost however, as Will discovers a baby ape, newborn, with a genetic link to the mind-altering drug.  Taking him home and naming his Caesar, Will begins to understand the affect his drug had, how Caesar is completely different from other animals, how he might be the link to curing Will's father.  But Caesar isn't content being a pet, he wants his freedom, he wants to know where he came from, and ultimately he wants other apes to be like him.

I was prepared not to like this movie, but I really couldn't do that.  The story is still strong after all these years and I'm still deep inside the plot, trying to figure out where it might go.  Then I realize I pretty much already know, but it doesn't really matter, I'm still on the edge of my seat waiting for the next plot point.  They did it right with this one in a way they completely missed with the 2001 remake.  It's dark, sad, human, and very believable.  And don't be thrown by James Franco.  Honestly, he kinda sucks as the brilliant, depressed scientist, but it doesn't really matter.  Anyone could have taken that role because Caesar stole the show.  Andy Serkis and the animators did a terrific job giving us emotions through simple facial expressions, telling us the story through gesture and motion when voice wasn't an option.  The main character of the film was Caesar, he was the focal point and the reason to watch, and he was produced perfectly.  I could watch him again & again, attempting to understand himself, the world around him, and his confusing humanity.  See this movie for Caesar alone or for your love of the original Planet of the Apes series, but see it regardless.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


  1. It has been a while since I have seen this but I didn't think James Franco was that bad...of course thinking about it now I cannot really remember his performance at all. You must be right about it not mattering!