Reviewed by: Julia Webster
James Franco … Will Rodman
Andy Serkis … Caesar
Freida Pinto … Caroline
Tyler Labine … Franklin
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
|Distributor:||Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation|
“Evolution becomes revolution”
Sequel: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014)
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
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.