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Rise of the Planet of the Apes, or is it?

A substance, designed to help the brain repair itself, gives rise to a super-intelligent chimp who leads an ape uprising.

Such is the premise of this fairly succesful movie that came into cinemas last year. It was nominated for an Oscar® for best visual effects and it had a talented cast which featured James Franco, John Lithgow and Andy Serkis, once again playing a motion capture character, in this case the ape: Caesar.

Ever since me and my girlfriend saw it in the movie theatre, I was impressed with the experience. The moment when Caesar talks to the guard (a very loud NO) I had goosebumps, but I couldn’t quite pinpoint as to why I felt that way. Looking back, and having rewatched it a couple of times, I feel this movie isn’t so much about the apes as it is about human behaviour.

I can almost hear a collective groan followed by a ‘nice going Sherlock’, but hear me out on this.
From the moment we witness Caesar (and minutes before that, his mother) it’s quite obvious that the people are the wrong do’ers in this. Using the apes to test their medication on them, ultimately creating their own downfall. One could say that this is purposefully done to create some sort of appreciation for Caesar, since he basically starts a full blown war on humanity. But it’s in the moments that preceed the final showdown where I felt that this movie is something special.

His character arc, all be it quite obvious, starts out as a friendly monkey who’s overly intelligent, leading to his darker side once he gets abandoned into the monkey shelter. But it’s James Franco his character who shows us that he’s basically uncapable of wielding emotions and forces. He creates intelligence, but fails to control it, and once that happens he chooses the all too familiar route (at least for us human beings) and disposes of him. This is never highlighted again, but it’s a dick move none the less. Where all the earlier planet of the apes movies focussed on the rivalry between man and ape, it’s ironic that the reason there is a rivalry in this series of movies is because the ape has been shaped by man.

If the newly announced Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will go down the same route as this one, it won’t be long before we see jealousy, power struggles and other human emotions the apes now inherit in their genes.
And if the movie were to focus, as I think this one did as well, on the emotional aspects of the bond between man and ape, we could be in for a very inspiring line of new planet of the apes movies.
Most people I’ve spoken to about this have said that it’s too far fetched to call this movie a drama and not the action spectacle it tried to be when it was marketed last year.
But since we had such a great little discussion about Indiana Jones earlier this week, why not try our hand on this one as well guys? (im looking at you Shawn and Vic!)

Room 237, a new documentary hitting the festivals right now, is about how fans interpret the classic Kubrick directed movie ‘The Shining’. From hints to the number 42 and an hidden apology for his supposed involvement in filming the fake (waving flag) moon landing, it showed that fans can interpret the same movie in 1000’s of ways. I think ‘Rise’ was one of the better dramatic movies of 2011, and of the series as well.
I for one, can’t wait to see what they’ll do with the series next.

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Discussion

3 thoughts on “Rise of the Planet of the Apes, or is it?

  1. I must admit that you are not far off the mark, my friend. Rise is indeed a cautionary and ironic tale about evolution, regression and God Complexes. We evolve from apes into humans and we humans, trying to play God, suffer the wrath of the very same species we once used to be. Caesar and company represent, on a dynamic yet complex level, the drive and yearning for freedom we humans take for granted. Rise is a deep flick that is not all eye candy. It can be quite thought provoking and on another level, it appeals to more cynical audiences as well. Great post, man!

    Posted by Victor De Leon | September 28, 2012, 18:19
    • Thanks for such a great comment Vic, you described it better than I could do in the text above. I felt the same way you did, and I found it to be quite complex beyond what we see on first sight with all the ape action thats taking place. I have high hopes for the sequel if they manage to get a good script and cast together! thanks for reading and giving your thoughts..lets see what Shawn has to say soon 🙂

      Posted by That Dutch Filmlover | September 28, 2012, 18:21
      • Ha! I’m pretty sure once Shawn gets revved up they’ll be no stopping him. He’s a beast. I, also, have high hopes for the sequel. I really enjoyed Rise. Keep up the awesome posts, bro!

        Posted by Victor De Leon | September 28, 2012, 18:24

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