Director: Rupert Wyatt
Writers: Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa
Composer: Patrick Doyle
Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, Tom Felton
David Hewlett, Chelah Horsdal, Brian Cox, John Lithgow
It’s absolutely fascinating to think about what great leaps and bounds life on this planet has made over the past 4,000,000,000 years. From the first appearances of eukaryotes (organisms with cells containing membranes) 2,100,000,000 years ago, to vertebrates, mammals and our closest ancestors, the primates, some 75,000,000 years ago. Still, we, as humans, are a pebble in the ocean of the universe and we’ve only been here for less than a blink of the eye.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a film I must admit I didn’t have much hopes for. At first glance I was dismayed at the idea of using so much CGI to create the apes and I thought the story would not hold my interest.
I was wrong on both counts because it turned out to be one of the best films I’ve seen this year so far. Not only was I swept up in its story, but also the aesthetic of the film. The CGI is flawless and it’s easy to forget that what we’re reacting to is a rendering and not in fact real creatures.
The film begins in the jungles of Africa where apes are being captured and sent to San Francisco to become test subjects for a drug that Gen Sys Laboratories hopes to develop as a cure for Alzheimer’s. Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist who works there and while giving a presentation on the breakthroughs they’ve made so far, one of the apes goes on a rampage which leads to the program being shut down and the test subjects destroyed.
Will finds out that the ape was actually protecting her new-born son whom she’s kept hidden. To save him from being put down like the others, Will smuggles him out of the lab and takes him home.
Caesar forms an immediate attachment to him as well as his girlfriend Caroline (Freida Pinto) and his father Charles (John Lithgow) (who suffers from Alzheimer’s). He also begins to display a level of intelligence that surprises them all, passed onto him by his mother. Realising the drug’s powers, Will begins to secretly treat his father with it too, restoring and improving his cognitive functions.
As the years pass, Caesar becomes more conscious and curious of the world outside his window. When Charles gets into a fight with the next door neighbour, Caesar rushes to protect him but the confrontation leads to him being taken away to a primate shelter where for the first time he encounters his kind and the cruelty of humans. Locked away, abused and ridiculed by the other primates for his clothes, Caesar begins to resent Will for leaving him there and starts to plot a revolution.
First he devises a way to earn the respect of the other primates; he then gives them a brain boost and finally breaks them out to take their rightful place on Earth. Although deep down he still loves Will, Caesar realises all he will ever be to humans is either a test subject or pet and neither are choices he’s willing to accept for himself or his kind.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes truly went far beyond my expectations. From its opening scenes right through to the climactic battle on the Golden Gate Bridge, the story is one which has you on the side of the apes and Caesar’s struggle is something that’s presented on screen in a very emotionally affecting and intelligent way.
Although it did leave me with a few questions, like how did Caesar’s mother manage to hide her pregnancy and where those hundreds of apes that descended on San Francisco came from. Nevertheless, the story is very satisfying despite these loose ends and the ending is left open for further sequels. If you’re wondering why chimps can’t speak, details on a recent study which looks at a gene called FOXP2 were published by Science Daily. The study reveals differences between how the human and chimp versions of FOXP2 work, and goes on to suggest why language is unique to humans.
The funny thing about evolution is that it will never be complete. It’s always in process and while today we’re happy to think that we’re the pinnacle of everything that came before, tomorrow that could change. And as the past 4,000,000,000 years have shown us, species are always upgrading and like in Rise of the Planet of the Apes the day might come when we’re as obsolete as last year’s phones because of human nature. Power to the Primates!
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .