Let me start my review by talking about the one thing that usually makes me not want to see movies like this; the CGI. I find that movies heavily based on CGI fall apart when it comes to the plot-line. This movie is a great exception to that new Hollywood rule! The apes are so life-like I forgot they aren’t real! Not only that, but I remember half-way through the movie thinking to myself, “this is as good as Jurassic Park.” Some of you might not like Jurassic Park so my comparing the two might make you not want to see this movie. However, if you are like me and appreciate the plot-line of Jurassic Park (the first one, not the others!) then you’ll understand what I mean. We all knew the dinosaurs weren’t real, but that didn’t change the fact that for the length of the movie the line between reality and science fiction were so closely linked by the end it was hard to convince yourself they didn’t exist. At least that’s how I felt watching it for the first time at the age of 10.
I did not see Rise of the Planet of the Apes which starred James Franco, but I can honestly say I did not feel lost at all with the plot line because of it. There beginning sequence pretty much covers everything that has happened in the world (most of which I’m sure takes place in the first movie) leading up to where this movie begins. Basically, the apes have taken over. Their advanced species (and disease) is a result of a mutation humans created that went horribly wrong. The disease began killing off the human race at a rather rapid pace. Years later the apes, who communicate via sign-language mostly, speculate that the humans are completely wiped out. You immediately get the sense that there is a generation gap between those apes that remember not all humans are bad (with evil intentions) and those apes that only recall the humans experimenting on them and then trying to destroy them. The parallels between science fiction and reality was already beginning to rear its ugly head…
I don’t want to reveal any spoilers (like the fact that the 3rd movie will be amazing and sad) but I do want to mention that this is a movie everyone in the family can enjoy. This is a site viewed by politically minded individuals, so keeping that in mind, yes, there can be comparisons made between this fictional movie and the real world. Whenever I go to see a movie, unless it’s being blatantly thrown in my face, I try not to inject politics where it most likely wasn’t intended. I find people tend to see or not see a movie because they already assume the worst will happen. That’s not to say my approach hasn’t backfired in my face (see my Broadway’s Cinderella post as an example), but it always helps to TRY and keep an open mind.
The apes are similar to humans on a basic family level.
The leader of the group is Caesar, who just wants to do all he can to protect the apes. And while they don’t live as we do; relying on electricity and 21st Century necessities, they still function as most families do. Their friendships and loyalties are identical to ours as well. And as all creatures of nature are apt to realize one way or another: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
The apes discover humans are still around when they stumble across 2 who, scared out of their minds, shoots and wounds one of the apes. The wrong ape actually because it turns out to be the son of the power hungry best friend of Caesar, named Koba. He’s one creepy and psychotic ape! This begins a chain of events that no matter how the good of both sides tries to stop, it just keeps on spiraling out of control until an all out war becomes eminent (but that’s for the 3rd movie to solve).
Caesar and Malcolm, as close as they become to each other, realizing they can co-exist by just staying out of each others way, doesn’t make much difference in the end.
But the journey is what I liked the most. Malcolm befriends Caesar, as does his “wife” and his son, who all realize the apes are much smarter than the leaders of the humans wants to admit (played by Gary Oldman by the way). He turns out to be the creepy psycho on the human side. Although not as violent as Koba.
I truly enjoyed the movie, and didn’t mind the nearly 2.5 hour length because at its core this movie is about family, friendships, trust, love, humanity, and most of all, survival. The antagonists are those few crazies, on BOTH sides, who are the cause for the impending all out war.
Oh, and one more thing: I did a lot of crying during the movie (I wasn’t the only one…)