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Movie Review

Rise of the Planet of the Apes also known as “Caesar: Rise of the Apes”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence.

Reviewed by: Julia Webster

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Teens Adults
Sci-Fi Action Thriller Fantasy Drama
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
August 5, 2011 (wide—3,500+ theaters)
DVD: December 13, 2011
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cautionary tale

mankind’s hubris

war for supremacy

Top choice for accurate, in-depth information on Creation/Evolution. The SuperLibrary is provided by a top team of experts from various respected creationist organizations who answer your questions on a wide variety of topics. Multilingual.
Featuring: Tom Felton
James FrancoWill Rodman
Andy SerkisCaesar
Freida Pinto … Caroline
Brian Cox
John Lithgow
Tyler Labine … Franklin
more »
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Producer: Chernin Entertainment
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
more »
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

“Evolution becomes revolution”

Sequel: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014)

DVD cover

The latest summer blockbuster, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” fits the genre well. It is entertaining and exciting and can be enjoyed as a family.

The audience is immediately swept into the world of man versus animal, in the opening minutes of the film, as hunters are chasing and capturing wild apes. The apes are taken to a laboratory to be used in testing a new drug, developed from a human virus. The drug, which is making the apes intelligent, is hoped to be a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.

Character Will Rodman, played ably by James Franco, has a personal interest in the success of the drug being tested, as Will’s father, Charles, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. John Lithgow gives an excellent performance, using facial expression and body language, to help us see Charles’ struggle with the rapid progression of the debilitating disease. Will is determined to save his father, but, as an audience, we need to remember that “God has made everything beautiful in His time.” (Ecclesiastes 3:2) and that “He who believes in Jesus will never die” (John 11:26).

One of the laboratory apes, Caesar, is brought home as an infant and raised by Will, who tries to balance Caesar’s many human qualities with the fact that Caesar is still a wild animal who is out of place in a human environment. Though Caesar lives in a colorful, toy-filled attic, he longs for the outside world.

Will’s beautiful girlfriend, Caroline as portrayed by Freida Pinto, is a veterinarian who realizes the truth of Psalm 18:30-31, that “God’s way is perfect.” Caroline’s caution becomes Will’s voice of reason, as he continues to push toward a cure, even though events are spiraling out of control.

The greed of laboratory manager, Steven Jacobs (actor David Oyelowo), pushes Will to speed up the testing of the drug. Jacobs doesn’t realize that “where a man’s treasure lies, there his heart will be also” and that he should “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:21, 33).

Eventually, through many plot twists and turns, we see how Caesar becomes the leader of a group of apes who also receive the drug. Caesar is shown breaking twigs, demonstrating Ecclesiastes 4:12 “a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The apes become stronger as they band together against man’s cruelty and dominance.

The abuse practiced in various ways on the apes by zookeepers John and Dodge Landon (Brian Cox and Tom Felton) has made them violent (see Matthew 26:52 “all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”). Though Caesar resorts to violence only to protect those he loves, some of the other apes begin to be more aggressive toward humans, creating the difference between the “good apes” and the “bad apes,” as shown in the original 1968 version of “Planet of the Apes.”

Eventually, we see that the demise of man will be brought about by the same virus that gives the apes their intelligence. The use of the virus, rather than a nuclear attack as suggested in the original “Planet of the Apes,” is a good way to update the story. The film’s opening sequence and other brief shots and dialogue include several nods to the original.

Like many action/fantasy films, the audience shouldn’t think too deeply about the movie’s plot. Though the idea of a virus that can cure a debilitating disease is plausible, many of the plotlines are pretty unbelievable, such as progressing quickly from a handful of normal laboratory apes to thousands of intelligent, super-human, often violent apes.

Still, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is very engrossing. The computer graphics, at times, are pretty fake and can be distracting, especially the apes who often have a video game quality. The filmmakers even use CG at times to portray giant redwoods, which doesn’t do justice to the beauty of a real forest. Later depictions of the apes, based on actors’ performances, like Andy Serkis as Caesar, are much more believable.

The film doesn’t overly glamorize violence, keeping the action sequences fairly tame. We do see some scary sights—a person being electrocuted, a finger being bitten off, and a graphic helicopter crash—though the many close-ups of snarling apes would probably be the most terrifying for young children.

The use of profanity and sexual images is negligible, with only a handful of characters shouting “What the H…” or improperly using the Lord’s name. Will and Caroline’s sexual relationship is not important to the film, and is shown only in passing. It becomes apparent that Will and Caroline are living together, and they are shown one time waking up in bed together, but they are only shown kissing once or twice.

The moral of the story to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is that God is sovereign. As God tells Job: “Where were you when I laid the Earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4-12) We must remember that “God’s way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). Therefore, we should “trust in the Lord with all our hearts, and lean not on our own understanding; in all our ways acknowledge Him, and He will make our paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5).

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Minor

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See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I didn’t notice to much in the profanity, and the sexual situations were minimal. The violence was very high, though. Not any blood to speak of, but the fighting, loud screaming (from the primates), and then the all around war between the species was outrageous. The story had very little to do with evolution, more to do with man playing God. I really enjoyed the story line, right up till the last 30 seconds. I know they were setting it up for the next one, but there was no need to make it end the way it did. I went to a matinee, and I have to say that I was really pleased to spend the money I did on this movie. Very well made, and directed. The moviemaking quality was great, as was the acting.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Michael Davis, age 38 (USA)
Positive—Easily, the absolute best movies this summer were “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” If you are against wizards and magic, then “Rise of the …Apes” would be a good alternative. Yes, the versions that came before were extremely cheesy; they cannot compare with the new film. Everything about it is spectacularly well-made, especially the eye-popping CGI. Just when I think computer generated animals can no longer dazzle me, something new comes along!

I would say this movie is alright for older kids, violence is very quick and not lingered on, but there is one scene where an ape bites off a man’s finger, and another where a young man is electrocuted. Violence would be the only problem, there was no profanity, that I noticed, except for one “damn” and maybe one f-word that was interrupted. It is implied that a couple lives together, but it is debatable whether they are married or not; my brother thought he saw a ring on the guy’s finger, once.

So, in my opinion it was awesome, and I sincerely wish that this movie would make more money than less intelligent blockbusters (namely, “Transformers…”).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kadie Jo, age 19 (USA)
Positive—My husband was so looking forward to this movie, and he was not disappointed. I have only seen the Mark Wahlberg “Planet of the Apes” movie, not the earlier ones, but this movie is supposed to be the prequel to the 1968 movie with Charles Heston. It is not necessary to see the original to understand or enjoy this movie. The special effects were impressive, and the storyline was pretty solid. There was heart behind the acting, and even though the story should be considered absurd, the viewer gets really drawn into the characters.

As for any objectionable content in this film, it was surprisingly decent. There were a few swear words, but not enough for me to really pinpoint an example. There was no objectionable sexual content of any kind, which was very refreshing. As for violence, there is some, however there is not much death for the human,s but some for the apes. The apes do not try to kill the humans.

For younger viewers, the apes can be frightening. If there are any animal activists that view this movie, they will most likely be upset with the ape experimentations, as well as some human cruelty to the apes. All in all, this movie was a great movie for most ages. Not only was it a well made, entertaining movie, but most parents can actually feel comfortable having their teens watch it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Alisha, age 24 (USA)
Positive—This movie is enjoyable and entertaining. Although the special effects are great, character development and a good plot stand out here. We see the character of Caesar develop from a young chimp to a rebel. One of the points that stands out in the Planet of The Apes movies is how badly animals are sometimes treated. They do have feelings and deserve compassion. One can relate to Caesar’s character, as he goes through life, living first as a human child, and then he is sent to a sanctuary that does not treat the primates living there very well. This movie gives the audience much to think about.

Genesis:1:25—God made wild animals according to their kinds,the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. God made all the animals and entrusted us to be responsible towards them. All life created by God is precious, including animals.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Elaine N Robinson, age 52 (USA)
Positive—This was a very entertaining movie. There was quite a bit of violence, but the language and sexual content were pretty clean. The story line made sense, the acting was good, and the special effects excellent. A very good summer flick.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Michael, age 57 (USA)
Positive—One sentence review, ready? Acting, directing, plot, character development, action, CGI so good you don’t even notice, all good, go see it right now.

Multiple sentence review, commence. You do not have to have seen the original “Planet of the Apes” movies to enjoy this one. It’s fun for the whole family at a PG-13 rating, but a little scary for the little one’s probably. I thoroughly enjoyed the fun action stuff that doesn’t require high cognitive awareness, but also really enjoyed the sci-fi themes questioning whether or not it’s a good idea to be improving our cognitive abilities.

There are NO actual apes in this movie, all CGI. This was done by the improvements in cinema since “Avatar,” making it possible for a body actor like Andy Serkis to be wearing those markers all over his body on the suit, and not have to be in the studio, but the camera can still pick up his movements and differentiate between him and the background. This makes for a better movie, just ‘cus. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Nathan Carlsen, age 30 (USA)
Neutral—From a cinematic standpoint, I would rate this film as one of the best I’ve seen this year. I felt the scenes were done well. You have to “buy” into the sci-fi premise, but that was not a distraction for me. It does present an argument against greed, improper testing of new drugs, etc.

I have essentially only one concern about the film, which I haven’t seen mentioned elsewhere. There appears to be a strong subliminal message throughout the film which implies that all “animals” (including humans) are the same/equal and should therefore receive the same treatment. Obviously, non-human animals, including primates, should be treated humanely. However, humans are not the same as other animals (including apes), and their stature is not one of equality. I wonder how many people were “rooting” for the apes to injure or kill the policemen during their final battle on the bridge? (I might add that the policemen were not responsible for the events leading up to this confrontation, but were only trying to do their duty to protect the population.) Though this idea is extremely subtle (and well done), I felt it was the dominant underlying theme and concerning. This would be a good discussion topic for movie groups or teens/adult classes.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Terry Tegtmeier, age 61 (USA)
Neutral—The film was OK. If you see it, make sure you stay in your seat after the credits start at the end, because the movie restarts with a key piece of info that tells you how it is a prequel to the 60’s movie “Planet of the Apes.” However, it is not anywhere as interesting as the original; I saw it when it first came out. The new movie would be better named as “Riot of the Apes,” as the movie is at least 30% apes fighting, which got a bit old. The movie is biblical. It really doesn’t deal with creation vs. Evolution or God in any way. I wasn’t offended. It doesn’t attempt to be believable, either, in my opinion. I don’t remember hearing cursing. It’s too violent for anyone younger than 8. I gave it a C, so I cannot recommend it. My wife gave it a B- to C+. She liked it better than I.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Joe, age 63 (USA)
Neutral—My family and I went to see this movie. Cannot say it was a bad movie. It did have some curse words, a**, s***, and took GOD’S name in vain twice. The curse words in the movie were just unnecessary. Other than the curse words, everything else in the movie was ok.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Peaches, age 35 (USA)


Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was fantastic, I loved many things about it. I specifically liked the development of the relationship between Will and Caesar, throughout the film, and also the way that the apes fought to escape the horrible enclosure they were trapped in. more »
Morally, there isn’t really anything wrong with this flick, except for some infrequent violence that wasn’t too severe. Best film of the year I reckon, along with “Harry Potter 7” and “Source Code,” go and see this film.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Jimmy, age 14 (Australia)
Positive—This movie was superb and amazing! I loved it! Although I did think that the adult, Will, could have prayed for his father to get better. But this was only slight, so this movie was amazing!!! …Watch it, and you’ll be in a stunning picture of apes!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Andre, age 15 (Canada)
Neutral—After I went to see this movie with my brother and my brothers friend, I thought it was the most realistic and action packed movie all year, but it was not on a biblical plot, because it was really about Evolution. I think it was a good movie but I don’t think it’s a wise choice for Christ-like people.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Anthony, age 9 (USA)
Positive—I thought that Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a great movie! James Franco did a great job, but the standout performance for me was that of Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar. He did an excellent job and deserves at the least to be nominated for best supporting actor when it comes time for the Oscars. There was obviously some violence, but the action scenes didn’t clutter the movie. There was also a tiny bit of language, including a least one s.o.b.

Overall, a great movie that was surprisingly kind of sad. Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—C, age 13 (USA)
Positive—…This movie was excellent. This movie made me feel like I was connected to Caesar from the beginning to the end credits. Great acting, especially James Franco. This movie was not all about evolution. Caesar said like 5 words; that’s it. See this movie. This will definitely get awards. This isn’t offensive. I would recommend it to anyone who likes Sci-Fi, action, and adventure movies. This is one of the best movies of 2011.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tyler, age 12 (USA)

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