Ape Week: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

After one movie — 2008’s The Escapist — Rupert Wyatt was picked to direct this blockbuster remake. It did pretty well, but his career took a bit of a hit this year when the film Captive State kind of disappeared.

This is more a remake of Conquest of the Planet of the Apes than the original film, as a brain repair technique gives advanced intelligence to a chimpanzee named Caesar, who leads an ape uprising.

Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist at the San Francisco biotech company Gen-Sys. Thanks to the viral-based drug ALZ-112 — which is being tested on chimpanzees — he’s close to finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, which his father (John Lithgow) suffers from.

One of the chimps in testing — Bright Eyes, named for Taylor’s nickname in the original film — goes wild in her cage and is put down, but they learn that she just gave birth to a son who is named Caesar. He’s inherited his mother’s intelligence as he’s been exposed to the drug inside the womb.

While the drug helps his father for some time, he becomes resistant to it. A neighbor attacks the dad while he’s confused and Caesar defends him, earning him a trip to the San Bruno Primate Shelter where he’s bullied by a chimp named Rocket and Dodge Landon (Tom Felton, who was Draco in the Harry Potter movies), the abusive head guard whose father (Brian Cox) manages the animal preserve.

As Caesar rises to the top of the primates, finally freeing the apes at the shelter and the San Francisco Zoo. Soon, he has run into the forest and a chance at freedom.

Andy Serkis is pretty amazing as Caesar and the effects are great. I prefer the original films, but it seems like enough people enjoyed this to lead to two sequels.

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