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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Who Are the Real Animals?
by Betty Jo Tucker

I was afraid to blink while watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes, for I didn’t want to miss a thing.  As expected, the apes and visual effects steal the movie, but the actors playing humans also help make things seem real in this spellbinding, creative prequel. Plus we finally get to see the beginning stages of how apes took over our planet.  And, hey, haven’t we been wondering about that ever since seeing Planet of the Apes?

Besides its tremendous entertainment value, Rise of the Planet of the Apes also touches on such important issues as animal rights, genetic engineering, corporate greed and the limits of science. In addition, the movie features a poignant story about a son’s (James Franco) struggle to save his father (John Lithgow), who suffers from a debilitating illness, and the attachment both men develop to a baby chimpanzee the researcher son brings home after an experiment goes awry in his lab.   

Caesar (the brilliant Andy Serkis), the grown-up chimp still living with Franco and Lithgow, takes center stage here. Caesar is no ordinary ape. His mother had been given injections that increased her brain function, which she passed on to her baby.  As a result, there seems to be no limit to Caesar’s comprehension as well as to his love for the two men who have cared for him since birth. (SPOILER ALERT) Unfortunately, because of an incident involving provoked violence, Caesar has to be placed among other apes – and that’s where he faces more violence from humans. Is it any wonder his attitude and behavior change drastically? No longer tied to humans, will Caesar emerge as a leader among his own kind?

Enough about plot. The rest of the film boasts incredible sequences filled with apes getting even with humans. They climb buildings, tall trees, and the Golden Gate Bridge; they crash through glass windows; they overturn cars and busses; they fight men in copters and on horses. Those rampaging apes are everywhere!  

Fortunately for viewers, visual effects have progressed since the last Planet of the Apes movie back in 2001 and the original in 1967. Most noticeable are the improved animal facial expressions and body language. The emotional range of these creatures managed to touch my heart and soul.  

“I want the apes to win!” my husband whispered to me during the last battle sequence -- and I felt the same way. Still, I hope no humans were hurt during the filming of this exciting movie.                    

(Released by Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and rated “PG-13” for intense and frightening sequences of action and violence.)

For more information about Rise of the Planet of the Apes, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or  Rotten Tomatoes website.

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