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on 21 August 2011
What a very very good film this is. In `Rise of The Planet of the Apes', English director Rupert Wyatt has a stab at doing what Tim Burton failed spectacularly to do in 2001 - resurrecting the Planet of the Apes franchise. What Wyatt has created, against all the odds, is a thoughtful, intelligent and stirring piece which provides the perfect antidote to all the silly, lacklustre `Apes' films since Franklin J. Schaffer's classic original from 1968.

The film charts the rise of Caesar, an orphaned laboratory chimp, from timid youngster to a sort of revolutionary leader of his fellow Simians. Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist at a pharmaceutical company researching a new drug and potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease that reverses the damage to brain tissue, tested on chimps. The effect it has on these animals is to rapidly increase intelligence to an unprecedented degree. After one of the apes goes berserk and trashes the laboratory, the drug is rejected by investors and all but one of the chimps, the baby Caesar, are killed. Will takes the chimp home with him and raises it himself but continues to use the drug on his father (John Lithgow), an Alzheimer's sufferer. Needless to say things go awry, and Caesar is taken away to a special facility where a large number of primates are held in captivity. Along the way there are various maltreatments of Caesar and his fellow chimps at the hands of sadistic humans, all of which contributes to his rise to power. Here begins the most powerful section of the movie, as Caesar gains the trust of his fellow apes and then eventually begins to command them.

Absolutely central to the success of the movie is the performance of Andy Serkis as Caesar, again displaying his enormous physical talents and reaffirming why he is the `go to' man for motion capture. Whether he be Gollum, King Kong, Captain Haddock or Caesar, someone please change the Academy rules and nominate this brilliant actor for an Oscar. The CGI effects are, for the most part, remarkable and as good as I have seen to date, with just a few slips; moments where you are reminded that the chimps aren't actually there. The final clash between apes and humans on the Golden Gate Bridge is thrilling and spectacular.

Sadly the performances of the human contingent are less spectacular. This is perhaps partly due to the fact that they have increasingly little to do as the film progresses, becoming almost fringe characters. Indeed, Freida Pinto has little to do from the start besides look pretty and smile sympathetically. But this is a fairly minor gripe because this is very much Caesar's story. In fact it makes the movie all the more impressive because Caesar's rise is depicted for a large portion of the film with very little dialogue. The pick of the human performances is probably John Lithgow as Will's father, a man losing his identity.

A really pleasant surprise this one. On the one hand a great action movie, with some thrilling set-pieces and terrific special effects. But its real power lies in the performance of Serkis as the central character, and the fun to be had watching him lead a Spartacus style revolution against oppression. 8.5/10.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 10 October 2014
I first saw the recent "Rise Of ..." on satellite, and thought it was very good. With the new sequel coming, I wanted to watch it again so it was fresh in my mind before seeing the sequel, and when I found this DVD with the original Charlton Heston film included for a very reasonable price, it was a no-brainer.

I very much enjoyed watching the original once again. It is many years since I did so, and it has inevitably aged, but is still nevertheless highly enjoyable, although of course that enjoyment is now limited by the fact that there cannot be many people left on the planet who are in total ignorance of the twist at the end, which was a huge part of this film when it first came out. I was lucky enough to know nothing of the story when I first saw the film, and when you don't know it's coming, the impact and shock of that ending is really huge, and it remains for me one of the greatest cinematic moments, etched indelibly on my memory for ever.

The recent film is a very clever attempt at a prequel, explaining how the rise of the apes began. I was slightly surprised at how clumsy and unreal some of the cgi ape animation looks when given the chance to analyse it a little more thoroughly on a repeat viewing, but this doesn't detract too much from a very good story. I must say too that, given the current news surrounding Ebola and its daily inexorable spread, the ending credits of this film are rather chilling to watch.
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The word reimagining is a much-abused one in movies, but Rise of the Planet of the Apes is such a superb example of how a disappointing film can be remade as a genuinely satisfying one by approaching the same basic story points from a very different angle. This isn't the conquest of the planet but the first step, and one that begins with the best intentions before escalating along with the genetically-enhanced chimp Caesar's growing intelligence. It manages to be both smart and entertaining, packing a lot more into its 105-minute running time than many a more bloated blockbuster and fits in firmly with the original series of films, from the references to Taylor's lost mission being launched to the origins of the plague that, in Conquest, was held responsible for the death of all domestic pets but here seems more dangerous to humans. And it's satisfying that, true to the Lawgiver's scrolls, it's the word No that is pivotal. Just as satisfyingly, it doesn't overdo the sly references to the original that are there to be discovered rather than hitting you over the head with them - Charlton Heston on TV, Caesar's mother sharing the same name the apes give Taylor in the original (Bright Eyes), an elderly orangutan called Maurice.

Abandoning prosthetics for mocap for the apes, the special effects are superb, allowing Andy Serkis to give another of his remarkable creature performances that was sadly ignored yet again at awards season while at the same time being far more convincingly simian than even the great John Chambers could manage. These apes look and move and behave like primates even in the exhilarating finale when the simian Spartacus re-enacts a moment from Kubrick's film before the impressive Golden Gate showdown. Easily the best Planet of the Apes film since, oh, at least 1968 and a terrific movie in its own right as well...

The Bluray comes with an impressive array of extras - two audio commentaries, several featurettes and three trailers and 12 minutes of deleted scenes, but, as is increasingly the fashion, the European DVD version also included is less well-endowed: just two deleted scenes and a couple of featurettes (the US edition didn't even have those!). Nonetheless, a worthwhile purchase for the excellent film itself.
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on 21 December 2011
Enagaging, thought-provoking and genuinely releavant to society today. As the human race seeks ways to prolong life and simultaneously cause massive loss of life across the globe, the apes rise to take over the world. This is the premise behind for me, one of the best films of the year. A crucial point to make here is that this is NOT a remake. It stands alone as a top quality, intelligent film which paves the way for the original premise.

I grew up with re-runs of the original franchise. Good old Charlton Heston's iron jaw becoming slack at the sight of old Madamne Liberty rising from the dersert sand of 30-oddth century earth remains an iconic image in my mind. The studios saw the power of the sequel and perhaps went on too long, with less money each time to throw at the story-line and actors. Roddy MacDowall at least made a name for himself in ape make-up as the franchise moved to TV.

I won't mention the ridiculous Tim Burton disastrous re-boot. Oh sorry, I just did. Let's just forget that one and focus on Rise.

We begin as hunters capture chimpanzees in Africa. Said chimps are then transported to USA so intelligent men can pump them full of drugs. James Franco leads the human cast as a scientist in search of a cure for Alzheimers which afflicts his father, played by John Lithgow.

Down at the lab, things go wrong. The suits are looking for revenue from creating super clever apes and extending human lifespan, the scientists are looking to get their name in a journal for providing drugs to prolong life. The end result is that James Franco ends up taking a baby ape home to play with. Now the thing is with brilliant minds is that often they don't have an awful lot of common sense. The ape, Caesar played superbly by Andy Serkis (if you need a man in an ape suit, he's your man), grows physically and intellectually, and with the help of Franco's drugs quickly becomes the most intelligent creature in the house. Ironically, the reverse happens to John Lithgow and that's where the trouble starts.

We move now from 'The Wonder Years' to 'The Shawshank Redemption' as Caesar faces his version of jail, run by an apathetic Brian Cox and his bullying warders. Watch out for Draco Malfoy proving there is life outside Hogwarts. Humans at this point begin to take second place to the apes as we see Caesar begin to take control of the situation and the film.

There are some wonderful homages to the the original film 'get your hands off me you filthy ape!' and the story whips along without dawdling anywhere. Humans in the main are portrayed as their own dark destroyer, but looking for someone else to blame. The prejudices of the original are reversed here as we learn how Heston's future earth is born. You can draw your own conclusions as to whether the apes take over, or the humans hand it over.

PS The sub-plot involving the accidental creation of an epidemic seems more pertinent now due to the recent new bulletin about Dutch scientists doing exactly the same thing in Holland.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 16 January 2012
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the updated origin story of the Planet of The Apes series. Updated in terms of story, CGI and pace. The CGI was much feted before the release of the film and its a shame that the first real shot of the Ape in the lab isn't as clean as everything else. Because as a whole the CGI work is extremely impressive. The story is simple enough and if you can leave a little disbelief at the door you will be more than well entertained here. The acting is good. John Lithgow's part shows off his skills well as he plays the father who is struggling with Alzheimer's. The story goes along at a pace and has humour and doesn't overly play the sentiment card.

The one thing this also has is a lot of love the original material. Don't believe me go back and watch it again. Notice the Charlton Heston films in the Ape house. See the story from the TV in the background where the space mission is launched that will eventually come back to a Planet of The Apes. Its not just the repetition of the obvious line of dialogue here. The whole thing pays tribute to the previous films.

This film hasn't been mentioned in many best of lists from last year. But its probably the blockbuster of last year that actually lived up to its expectations. It bears repeated watching and if you haven't seen it then you are in for a treat.
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on 6 September 2014
In Rise, we get to know the first Ape - Caesar. Used in experiments to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease, Caesar develops way beyond the expected intellect of a normal ape. This is handled well in the film, always highlighting the potential problems for messing with nature and science.

When Caesar's death is ordered due to an experiment going wrong, Will Rodman (played by James Franco), takes him home to live with him.

The inevitable happens and Caesar becomes a threat to society. This is when he's transferred to a sanctuary. Up until this point, I was invested in the story, cared for Caesar's plight and really wanted to see him make it through. But it was at the sanctuary where the film lost me.

While in the sanctuary, Caesar finds himself in the care of a worker who hates apes. The thing is, the worker doesn't seem to have any motivation for hating the apes other than his own inherent cruelty. While this sets up the tension required for the conflict that sees Caesar eventually pop, it makes the sanctuary worker hideously one-dimensional and unbelievable. It was like they'd drafted in a Scooby Doo villain to push the story forwards because they didn't know how else to create conflict.

As the title suggests, the ensuing drama leads to the rise of the planet of the apes.

Were it not for the weak middle this would have been a great film. I'll definitely watch Dawn and hope Draco Malfoy is nowhere to be seen. The annoying thing is, he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those pesky apes.
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on 17 September 2011
I wasn't expecting much with this movie but I was pleasantly suprised at how much I enjoyed it.

It is part action thriller, part sci-fi part prison drama and by rattling along at a frenetic pace it doesn't allow you to think too much about any plot holes.

The basic plot premise is that a chimp whose mother had been given an experimental drug for Alzheimers is smuggled out of the the lab. It seems the drug has given this chimp with an amazing intellect (for a chimp anyway.)

Eventually he comes into contact with other apes and from here it starts to look bad from here for humanity as the apes form a dangerous fighting force. At less than two hours the running time is perfect to keep the pace of the movie going and there is a great climactic action sequence on the Golden Gate Bridge. There is also a subtle tie in to the classic Planet of the Apes movie starring Charlton Heston.

No doubt there will be sequels to follow and based on this franchise opener I'll be looking forward to them.
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A new attempt at rebooting/reimagining/remaking/calling it what you will the Planet of the Apes franchise.

So forget the originals and the 2001 version - as well you might in the case of the latter - because this is a whole new take on things, having no tie in with those films whatsoever.

James Franco plays Will Rodman, a scientist trying to find a cure for Alzheimer's. Not least so he can help his afflicted father [John Lithgow]. When work on chimps with a new drug yields unexpected results he is left with a baby chimp to care for. Who is eventually named Caesar. Caesar is very smart. A bond between humans and apes forms.

But when Caesar gets to see the worst humanity can offer, and when the drug trials lead to more unexpected developments, the future of two species might be changed forever.

Caesar is brought to life via actor Andy Serkis in a motion capture suit and cgi, a la Gollum in the Lord of the Rings movies. The end result is just as good. He is a character you can't help but sympathise with and root for. It's very easy to forget at times that he's not a real creature.

Human wise Will Rodman has a decent amount of depth to him and James Franco acts the character well. Frieda Pinto takes the somewhat thankless role of his life interest and does catch the attention regardless of her character not being quite as deep as she could. And John Lithgow does tug at the heartstrings when portraying a man who simply can't remember any more.

The rest are cold hearted and ruthless or ignorant as required, but all are played well.

The film moves at a decent pace throughout. This is a 12 certificate film, thanks to some moments of violence and angry apes that might not be suitable for younger viewers. It all builds to a very satisfying last act which begins with a great punch the air moment. And has a few more during what follows.

Both a decent action movie when that kicks in, and a solid drama about the bond between two indiviuals, this is excellent movie making and an excellent way to start a franchise. Not least because although it's relatively self contained it does at the same time set a few things up to follow. The first of them in a pretty clever way. The second you will find out more about at the start of the end credits, so keep watching those.

There are two short scenes which are done with subtitles. There's no way to switch those off. But they are necessary. You'll see why.

There is also one great homage to the original.

Forget the 2001 version. This is an attempt at franchise rebooting that wholeheartedly succeeds. Which is why the sequel will be along shortly. And why I look forward to it.

The dvd has the following language and subtitle options:

Languages: English Spanish German Italian.

Subtitles: English Spanish Danish Finnish German Swedish Italian Norwegian.

There are no extras at all.

It begins with one trailer that you can skip via the next button on the remote.

And one that you can't get past like that, unless you use fast forward.
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The 1968 Planet of the Apes film remains one of my favourite of all time - and probably always will. It spawned a dodgy follow-up and three more thought-provoking (though often underrated) sequels. After the disappointment of the 2001 remake (sorry Tim, "re-imagining") I was feeling pretty sceptical about this pseudo-prequel. The truth is that this isn't a de-facto prequel to the existing series of films, instead it's the start of a fresh reboot and covers similar grounds to the "Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes [DVD]" where we see the initial stages of apes challenging the authority of man. My concerns were pretty unfounded however, this is a well-conceived and well-executed piece of cinema.

'Rise' manages to stand on its own while also recognising the '68 classic (and the subsequent films of the original franchise) through subtle references such as the Icarus Space mission, and more direct links - the most obvious being the re-use of *that* line - this time delivered by Tom 'Malfoy' Fenton who gets the privilege of yelling at a damn dirty ape. The set-up has the potential to be lazily cheesy as we see a scientist working on a cure for Alzheimer's, which his dad also happens to be suffering from, but instead of taking the standard, overly sentimental approach we get a well-developed story which is emotionally engaging on a mature level. The most visible break from any other 'Apes films is the use of CGI instead of prosthetics to create the chimpanzees and they are incredibly good. At times they are clearly computer generated but then again the apes from the original films were obviously humans in suits! Once your eye gets used to the look they appear quite natural, the visual effects really bring the apes to life and they are very expressive, the eyes are perfect and not the 'dead' eyes you see in so many other CGI creations. Caesar in particular is full of personality and his obvious intelligence means that his incarceration is heart-breaking to watch as he asks/signs to convey that he wants to go home. A lot of effort has gone into convincing us that Caesar is real and it's not long before you believe he is, his mannerisms look realistic and appear to be a blend of chimpanzee and human to reflect how his origins contrast with his humanlike upbringing, and the direction his kind are headed. It's a difference which makes him superior to other chimps - it makes him a natural leader.

Instead of relying on tenuous events to kickstart an ape revolution the film carefully develops all aspects of the plot to make sure that everything is in place to begin the whole saga - once the film ends you will understand how the apes became intelligent and realise what will cause the downfall of humankind. The final scenes are action packed and a visual spectacle, but Rise Of The Planet of The Apes isn't built around a few minutes of action and consists of a genuinely compelling watch which never loses pace. The first time we see an ape stand up to its human aggressor and shout "no" feels iconic, this film is creating its own moments of cinema history rather than jumping on a bandwagon.

The Blu-Ray looks superb, individual hairs look amazing - and that's just on James Franco! Small details look clear and movement looks fluid, this is a film which definitely benefits from high-definition. My only criticism would be that the apes sometimes look 'too' clear - but it's barely even a niggle worth mentioning. Colours are crisp and the film captures a fairly realistic look and is mainly set indoors so neutral tones, domestic clutter or plain surroundings are often seen and they look photo-realistic. Outdoor scenes seem to have boosted saturation and it looks great with lush green foliage looking bright and natural against some of the more drab surroundings. As you'd expect from a film with almost constant CGI, there are some interesting bonus features included which delve into how the look was achieved. Andy Serkis is synonymous with motion capture technology and rightly features on the disk in several of the documentaries. The extras tend to be quite short but there's enough here to show the creative talent and the respect to the original movies behind one of the best films of 2011.

In a nutshell: A film worthy of the Planet of The Apes 'brand'. We empathise with the intelligent Caesar and watching him develop a sense of self-awareness allows to see the germ of revolution grow alongside an opportunity to act. This may be a reboot leading into a fresh series of films but it also complements what has come before it and it respectfully acknowledges them. I'd give this 4.5 stars if I could - but I can't, on balance I'm sticking my neck out for 5, it may not be as iconic as the original '68 film but then again very few are, it could have been slightly more thought provoking but it's still a stimulating watch which covers all bases and establishes a very strong foundation for any subsequent titles.
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on 5 August 2015
An unexpectedly good prequel to Planet of the Apes. I still dont know if it deserves four stars, but the beginning and up to the uprising it's a tragic, human and unusal drama giving an intelkigent insight of what's behind the story we all know, and can also be "enjoyed" by taking it as a single film, not part of a saga. It's about our weakness, loneliness and destructive attitude toward ourselves and the beauty of nature.
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