"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Summer Movie Flashback of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes

tn_rotpotaB

2011
2011

I like doing these re-reviews. Alot of times I feel differently about a movie as I get older, or I notice new things after seeing it more than once, or I benefit from being removed from the context of the hype and the reactions I’d been hearing when it came out. But it’s a challenge too because it’s so easy to be redundant. More than once I wrote a draft of one of these and then read my old review and found out I unknowingly repeated an idea or even an exact phrase. Shit. Like I was doing I, ROBOT and I was real proud of this joke where I rewrote the 3 Laws of Robotics in my own way. Then it turned out I already did that years ago.

And as the gap narrows here at the end of the series it’s getting pretty ridiculous. This was only 2 years ago, and I haven’t gone off to live a quiet life in a monastery and stick fight in a remote village or anything like that. A man can only gain so much wisdom in that period of time, so my views haven’t really changed on the movie of THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES of the starring James Franco. It’s still a very enjoyable dumb man’s thinking man’s sci-fi.
mp_rotpotaIn a way the many little things that already bothered me before are more distracting without the surprise of this being a decent movie. I still don’t like that director Rupert Wyatt treats certain characters as assholes as a cheat to make the audience more comfortable in siding with the protagonists. The prime example is the next door neighbor (David Hewlett), who we’re obviously supposed to hate in his various run-ins, even though in every single case he’s clearly 100% correct to be angry. First, a fucking ape is rampaging in his backyard where his children play. Second, a neighbor has gotten into his car and is ramming it back and forth between two other cars. Third, a stranger is in his side yard and then coughs blood in his face. Basically this man has had his castle violated by the neighbors in every way other than finding Franco jerking off onto his bed. But the filmatists go way out of their way to make you hate him in each of these scenes, amping up his douchiness and lack of empathy.

Wouldn’t it be way more dramatically interesting to just play it real, and acknowledge the guy as an innocent victim? Why not do that?

And I still think Franco (as the scientist who raises super-intelligent ape Caesar in his house) has a relationship with Freida Pinto that’s pretty weird. They’ve been together for 5 years and he hasn’t told her where Caesar came from and how he got so smart? Or that he’s treating his father with stolen experimental drugs? And she doesn’t get upset when she finds out? They just stay in perpetual honeymoon stage and don’t show any signs of aging as the years pass.

But I gotta say it still worked on me. Caesar’s situation is so sad and so is his “father”‘s. There’s no clean solution to this. To put a leash on Caesar is demeaning. As a sullen teen he sees a dog on a leash and starts questioning dad about whether or not he’s a pet. He’s too smart to be a pet, so he should never be on a leash. On the other hand, for the doctor to walk around in public with a full grown ape, one that has attacked people in the past (even bit a guy’s finger off), would be completely irresponsible. So he makes the honorable decision to let Caesar go off into the Redwoods to become his own man.

In a way maybe this leads to the inevitable war between man and ape, but oh well. A virus spreads across the world during the end credits. The humans were gonna be fucked either way.

I look forward to the sequel. I’m still kinda apprehensive about how much they’ll make the apes talk, but I’m not so against it anymore. It’s gonna have to be post-apocalyptic in a way (a virus has killed most of humanity and made apes intelligent) so they got no choice but to make it completely different movie from part 1.

Also I got some hopes for the director Matt Reeves, because he wrote UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY and directed the surprisingly good LET ME IN. I guess he also had something to do with that TV show they used to have called Felicity, so its star – Keri Russell I believe is her name? –  will be in this in a human role. Jason Clarke from ZERO DARK THIRTY is also in there. And it’s cool that the supporting ape characters Koba, Rocket and Cornelia are gonna return. They stayed with Caesar I guess.

That would be cool if there’s a part where the humans are on the run, they’re heading south looking for shelter and they end up in Los Olivos, where they find Neverland Ranch. But it turns out Bubbles has gotten the ol’ green eyes, escaped from his primate shelter and returned home. And then it could be like HOME ALONE but with Bubbles setting traps for Jason Clarke and Keri Russell but then they make friends and go on the ferris wheel together and it ends with a remake of the “Beat It” video with Bubbles as Michael and the two gangs are man and ape and he tries to show them how to get along. I will be VERY surprised and disappointed if the movie is not exactly what I described right here. Your move, Hollywood. Don’t blow it.

Other than in dance, martial arts or parkour sequences I would be happy if they decide to do a little less jumping in the new one. The effects are so great but all the soaring ape shots kinda give the trick away. They look more real on the ground.

I said in my original review that I’d have to consider the politics some more. In these long two years I have not stumbled across a deeper understanding of anything that’s being said in the movie. As far as I can see it’s just taking the usual archetypes: well meaning scientist who gets too obsessed and does unethical experiments, greedy corporatist who cares more about profits than safety and ethics. I don’t think it’s saying anything heartfelt about science, it’s just saying what you’re supposed to say in any sci-fi story. The idea of an Alzheimer’s drug that restores memories sounds far fetched, but I’ve actually heard of one that they were hoping would do that. I don’t think it panned out though. Maybe this is true, maybe they were worried about superapes.

It’s kinda funny how standard it is for movies to try to make us scared of trying to cure diseases. I know they don’t mean it as a serious message, but it’s always there. I wonder, has there been a real life case where experiments trying to cure cancer, AIDs, etc. led to some terrible virus or other disastrous consequence? I know it hasn’t made monsters, zombies or super-intelligent apes yet, but is this “tread lightly, don’t play God by trying to cure diseases” a legitimate scientific concern, or just a lazy sci-fi cliche? I’m leaning toward the second one. But I guess I can’t knock it if it works so well.

Well, I’m not gonna try to stretch this one out. I probly said enough the first time. Griff, go ahead and give us your fond memories of those bygone days of twenty-eleven.

* * *

original review

other movies that came out that summer: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, SUPER 8, GREEN LANTERN, TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON, HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS AND PART 2, CAPTAIN AMERICA IS: THE FIRST AVENGER, CONAN THE BARBARIAN

highest grossing movie that year: HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2



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38 Responses to “Summer Movie Flashback of the Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

  1. Matt Reeves wrote Under Siege 2? Huh, you learn something new every day!

  2. Another one of these movies, where I blind-bought the DVD ultra cheap years ago and still haven’t watched it.

    But I remember (after all it’s not that long ago) all the hype about the “brillant” FX, but whenever I saw a clip of it, the apes were looking realistic, but never really blend into their environment and looked like the compositing work was done in the 80s, where you had these thick, black matte lines and/or the colour was much brighter or darker than the rest of the movie. Maybe there are better FX shots in the movie, but then why would they put all the awful ones into their promo clips?

  3. “Well, I’m not gonna try to stretch this one out. I probably said enough the first time. Griff, go ahead and give us your fond memories of those bygone days of twenty-eleven.”

    awwww thanks for the shout out Vern! but I already gave my thoughts on 2011 in the COWBOYS & ALIENS review and as I said before I don’t really have much to say about it, some of it was shitty, some of of it was pretty good, overall it’s far too recent (seriously, it feels like yesterday) for me to have any serious nostalgia for

    one thing I do remember though is it was kind of a gloomy year, what with the whole occupy wall-street business and whatnot

  4. This gives me a great idea for a Halloween costume: Michael Jackson costume plus mask, hands, and feet from a monkey costume would make Bubbles-dressed-as-MJ. Generalissimo Michael would be the most appropriate, but Smooth Chimp-inal would be cool even if you didn’t know who Michael was.

  5. I also haven’t done any stick-fighting since 2011, so my thoughts on this movie haven’t changed: It is still horrible. So I’m just going to repost my dissenting opinion from the original review, which nobody responded to because the force of my correctness was just too strong:

    I don’t know, guys, I thought this one was pretty awful. There was just never a single point in the movie where I believed what was happening. Scientists who can’t tell when their own lab monkey is pregnant, billion dollar pharmaceutical projects that get shut down because a chimp broke a window, scientists with deadly experimental (and, one would assume, proprietary) viruses in their fridge at home, monkey prisons with more space than the silverback exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, an ape who somehow instinctively knows that their former owner has been working on an experimental smartgas while said ape has been locked up (it’s common in movies like this for “intelligence” to equal “information.” Having the capacity to learn something is not the same thing as just magically knowing it), a guy who’s never seen the head monkey in his life somehow knowing he’s the ringleader and being able to spot him from a helicopter, intelligence-enhancing drugs that also cause monkey spines to straighten (Chimps don’t walk mostly on all fours because they’re dumb; they do it because that’s the way their bodies are put together), scientists who get sprayed with an experimental virus and never tell anybody, characters who never seem to age, move, change jobs, get a new haircut, or even update their wardrobes in eight years…

    These might seem like piddling things, the kind of poetic license Vern brought up in the review (original recipe), but they were so constant that I was never able to settle into the reality of the movie. The fact that the CGI apes were deep in the Uncanny Valley for me probably didn’t help. I know what monkeys look like, and these were not monkeys. The movie was so preposterous in plot but bland in tone that it simply cancelled itself out. They trotted out these absurdities in the most banal way possible, and then expected me to take them seriously. I just wasn’t buying what it was selling.

    I laughed when Caesar rode the horse, though. That was pretty awesome.

  6. I enjoyed this one, but I wish even more of the film was from the perspective of the apes. The best sequence in the film is probably when Caesar is in the jail for apes when the movie all of a sudden becomes a prison film. Although, the war between the apes and the police is pretty awesome at the end. For me, the movie only really falters when the humans take up too much screen time. But I’m also one of those weird people who tends to sympathize a lot more with animals in movies than with actual people.

    Back when the Rise director was supposed to also helm the sequel, I read an interview where he said he wanted to make the second film like Full Metal Jacket but with apes, which sounds like the GREATEST FILM EVER MADE!

  7. I would LOVE to see a movie where a R. Lee Ermey ape yells for 10 minutes straight at some ape cadets!
    (“OOO OOO AAA EEE OOO EEE EEE OOO! *throws his own shit at another ape and forces him to make 100 push ups*)

  8. “Where the hell are you from anyway, Primate? Holy monkey shit! Texas? Only chimps and gimps come from Texas, Primate Cowboy, and you don’t look like a chimp to me so that kind of narrows it down!”

  9. Y’know what would be a great twist ending for the sequel? Suddenly the horses that the apes ride on become smart and start to enslave the apes!

  10. Also I really started thinking of anything noteworthy that happened to me in 2011, but I can’t remember. I start to doubt that this year even existed.

  11. Oh no, wait, I got this one acting gag in that really crappy scripted reality show and spent a week on Ibiza because of that, as some of you might remember. But that was it in terms of 2011 for me. Seriously, between 2008 and now, absolutely nothing happened.

  12. Mr. Majestyk:

    “Chimps, orangutans, gorillas, tree monkeys… you are ALL equally worthless in my eyes!”.

    [and]

    “Do you like to suck big primate dicks?! I’ll bet you could suck a banana through a bamboo stem!”.

    So many possibilities…

  13. I want to see an APES film where they get real smart, but instead of getting all post-apocalypsy, they just kind of pick up where we left off, and then it gets really meta and they start remaking movies and TV shows and eating fast food, then they develop severe diabetes and start doing experimental drug tests on the leftover humans, but the drugs turn the humans into REALLY smart humans, so then we can do RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE HUMANS. Could use some robots. Maybe some super lazy allusions to Christ. End credits.

  14. “I think I’m trying to suggest something about the duality of chimp, sir.”

    An ape version of Full Metal Jacket makes so much sense that only a Hollywood executive could turn it down. It’s a shame too, because no matter what movie we end up with for the sequel, it will never match the film I’ve been developing in my mind.

  15. The points that Mr Majestyk makes are amazing. I never bothered watching this because it sounds awful, just terrible, not my thing at all, but the catalogue of errors he lists sound like an incredible cluster fuck! Why has no one else picked up on this? Everyone raved about it when it came out, but Majestyk’s autopsy seems to have found that this was jam packed with shit.

  16. Every single complaint Mr. Majestyk just listed is totally true and can’t really be countered – there’s a lot of flaws in this movie and I’m kind of surprised it got as much of a pass as it did from critics. (I think the whole “it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be” vibe really helped). I still think it’s an entertaining, passable Saturday matinee movie but not a pimple on the ass of the original Apes movies (yes, even Battle). Whereas the originals had deep, ballsy social commentary, and a twisty, 5 movie-long story that snaked and wrapped around itself in an ingenious manner, this basically seems like a Crichton-esque thriller with CGI apes that steals the Apes name as cheap brand-recognition. I think i said this in the original thread, but making a prequel where you purposely poo-poo and negate the original sequels just reeks of hubris (I probably wouldn’t have minded so much if they took out the cutesy astronaut news clips with Charlton Heston’s character that tried to tie it in to the original series, and just made this a Casino Royale-style rebootquel as Vern mentioned) It kind of reminds me of how they gratuitously included Weyland in Prometheus to be like “ha ha, AVP isn’t canon!”, nevermind that Lance Henriksen’s portrayal of Weyland in AVP had an actual character and an arc and stuff, while poor Guy Pearce was stuck doing whatever the hell he was doing in Prometheus

  17. Mr. M — “I know what monkeys look like, and these were not monkeys. ” Ah, I see the problem, you misread the last word of the title and consequently got confused when you just kept seeing apes everywhere.

    But seriously, you’re not wrong about any of those things, but I’m kinda surprised they bothered you enough to keep you from enjoying a generally fun, extremely light-weight little tale about an ape rebellion. I mean, I know for a fact that you’ve enjoyed and even championed movies which are far, far dumber and nonsensical. What happened here? I mean, Ceaser rides a horse, you got a gorilla-vs-helicopter, an ape version of a hostile prison yard, John Lithgow hangs out with a super-intelligent chimp. How can you not be charmed?

  18. This is one of the greatest films ever made. It’s weird that so many intelligent people can have such incorrect opinions about a film. The complaints you guys are leveling, I have to wonder if we are even the same species.

    Rather than attempt to rebut claims which I find so self-evidently misguided, I’ll just repost my fanfic from the comments of Vern’s original review. The proof of the film’s greatness lies in its ability to inspire such fancies:

    For the sequel, they gotta [fastforward] like a century and a half into the future. The disease has run its course and a destitute band of survivors struggles for purchase in the ape’s newly minted civilization . A minority faction of non-genocidal apes wants to save homo sapien from extinction. The movie can be an ape political procedural/guerilla warfare and post-apocalyptic survival deal; it will end on a shitty note a la the dark knight but set up mars crew’s return to the planet in a perhaps not unwelcome revision of the dumb tim burton one, our investments having been nurtured appropriately this time around. Significantly, the various named and nameless ape protagonists from Rise are figures of myth and legend in this sequel, whose opposing teachings and dialects are quoted with reverence and/or scorn amongst the apes’ high-ranking governmental figures as they endeavor to define the character of their society and the fate of human beings.

  19. Mr. S: I know I have championed far stupider movies than this, but the stupidities in those usually make them more enjoyable. They’re stupidities of the “We know this doesn’t make sense but we need it to happen this way so we can get to the awesome stuff so please just go with it, it’ll be worth it, we promise” variety. These are stupidities of the “We really hope you’re too dumb to notice this because otherwise this just isn’t gonna work” variety. The constant barrage of plot holes and logistical gaps stopped me from ever being able to accept the reality of the movie on any level. It lost me immediately and never got me back. By the time it finally got to the carnage, I’d long since checked out. CGI monkeys jumping through CGI glass is cold comfort after 90 straight minutes of having my intelligence insulted at every turn.

  20. The critical reception of this movie really benefited from low expectations. The flaws become really apparent on a rewatch. The whole setup is really stupid. How did Franco’s girlfriend not notice he was conducting “secret” research for five fucking years? He’s got an entire wall covered in charts and graphs! But it still worked on me. Majestyk’s points are irrefutable, but somehow the apes of drama were able to leap through the plate glass windows of my heart. My wife is both a noted ape-hater and a scientist who gets irritated by crappy movie science, and RotPotA still won her over in the end.

  21. Some of Majestyk’s points are irrefutable, but not all. I’ll also concede that the film probably benefited from low expectations. But even if I were to agree with all of Majestyk’s criticism, I think it is vastly outweighed by the sheer amount of fun, bizarre and downright exciting moments in the second half of the film. I loved that they dropped a prison film right in the middle of the movie. I also loved the full on battle between man and ape on top of the motherfuckin’ Golden Gate Bridge. By the time we get to Caesar on a horse, it’s just icing on the cake. Even if you ended up disliking the movie overall, I cannot imagine how you could not love certain aspects of the movie. It really did give us a number of images that I’ve never seen in a summer blockbuster, and the film managed to do so while being a reboot/prequel.

  22. Oh, and I’ve only seen the original Planet of The Apes. Are any of the original sequels any good?

  23. Rbatty – I’ll just say that the 5 original POTA movies may be my favorite film franchise ever, and you should watch the sequels immediately before they’re ruined for you. I didn’t even know the cast or the stories (or settings) of the sequels, and I think it’s best to watch them that way.

    It’s weird that I’ve always wondered growing up if a moment like Darth Vader telling Luke Skywalker he’s his father in Empire could ever be re-created again in this day and age of spoilers and cynicism. Little did I know the POTA series was under my nose the whole time and has multiple moments like that sprinkled throughout. Even though they didn’t have a master plan and had to write themselves out of corners from sequel to sequel, the whole series works together remarkably well (for something that admittedly reboots and retcons quite a bit) because the underlying story and themes are so strong. Where the story eventually goes has influenced tons of popular fiction we’ve seen since (I can’t list which movies and TV shows without spoilers but you’ll know them when you see them).

  24. I like all of the APES movies (except the Tim Burton one). One thing that’s cool is that they usually try something really different in each sequel, especially ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES which has Cornelius warped to regular ’70s earth, and it’s sort of a social satire about how the world would deal with that. I doubt this series will ever go in that direction, and probly shouldn’t, but I hope they try some ballsy film-to-film leaps of some kind.

  25. The original series is pretty god damn bleak for something that was mostly popular with kids.

  26. Yeah, anyone who hasn’t seen the original APES sequels really ought to do it post haste. The second film, BENEATH, is only OK, but both ESCAPE and CONQUEST are both rock-solid, strange, completely unexpected explorations of themes which are touched on in the original. BATTLE is the weakest, but do you dare turn down the opportunity to see John Huston in an ape suit? That’s right, you certainly do not. Try to learn as little as possible before going in, because the series has a very interesting ability to continue to surprise. Not with twists, exactly, but just with unexpected changes in direction and tone.

  27. Seeing the picture of the chimp again, I can’t believe anybody could call the creatures “realistic” like pretty much everybody did at the time. I mean, I understand that they were the best CGI that technology could offer at the time, but still, to me they just looked like videogame characters pasted on live action.

  28. With phrases such as “at the time”, it sounds like we are talking fifty years ago instead of two. Is it just my temporal perception that is fucked up or has shit really changed that much?

    Anyway, watched the movie some time ago and the apes look fucking weird and took me out of it. But I don´t know how else they would have done it without going back to ape masks.

  29. I don’t disagree with the problems listed for this movie. Not at all.

    I just didn’t care. I think this is where shit gets real subjective. There are a lot of problems with this movie, but when I’m actually watching (which is only twice, to be fair) I don’t care about those problems and instead enjoy everything else. I imagine it’s how you all watch Inception or whatever.

    Not saying this is a great movie or anything, but it’s pretty good. I like pretty good. There needs to be more pretty good genre movies that try hard but still end up being pretty good, instead of being a muddy series of ambitious failures. Didn’t this come out around the time of X Men First Class? That was also pretty good.

    But, yeah, I get this isn’t a perfect movie. But since someone mentioned Prometheus (neal2zod did because he’s a rad dude) we can all at least agree that this isn’t a bullshit movie like Prometheus, right?

  30. I liked the movie, but it definitely suffered from my having watched Project Nim before it.

    I can’t recommend Project Nim enough – it’s a documentary about this guy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nim_Chimpsky, and PotA was obviously inspired by his (its?) story.

  31. It’s kind of funny that the next one’s called “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and this one was “Rise,” and not the other way around. How many simian creatures can reasonably live in a metropolitan area in the US? Not really all that many, right? As I remember it, the climax of this movie was like 50 or so apes throwing down with the cops on a bridge so they could go off and live in the woods. Then at the end we get a (FUCKING) credits sequence of the virus wiping out humanity. Cool, glad you didn’t gloss over the interesting part or anything.

    This one’s the dawn, is my point, unless they mean the apes physically rise into the air when they climb a tree. Their empirical rise I guess will be in the second one, which I am not going to see, because this one was dumb.

  32. does the Tuskegee syphillus experiment count?

  33. Good question, tawdry. But I would say that not giving a shit about what happens to the test subjects isn’t the same as running into surprising negative consequences. The danger was not in trying to find the treatment but in how they tested it.

  34. Casey- I hope you were ironic about Prometheus,right? Saying everything being subjective and all and then pull some shit like that?

  35. Forgot until now about the crazy Simpsons musical of Planet OfThe Apes and the hypnotic Dr Zaius song;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ocmdiAaOJE

  36. I think that scene qualifies pretty much as the most hilarious moment in Simpsons history.

  37. It’s kind of opposite of trying to do something helpful, scientifically, and having terrible consequences, but I think it fits with the conversation of scientists doing risky things – when they set off the first atomic bomb test, they thought there was a possibility, very, very unlikely, but still a distant possibility that it would set off a chain reaction that would burn off the atmosphere of the planet. And they did it anyway.

  38. CJ- I´d say it is one of the more iconic moments of Simpsons history. It is not as offensive as the “Filthy New Orleans “song , but in its absurdity it definetly ranks among them.

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