When the movie first came out 3 years ago (2011) I didn’t went to see it mostly because of James Franco. I’m not the biggest Franco fan even considering this is the eight movie I’ve seen him in and I’ve seen 4 TV shows where he appeared.
After reading and watching the trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes I realised I had to see Rise before to follow the story.
Franco is actually not bad in this movie and the company of Pinto and Lithgow helps him. Andy Serkis is by far the biggest star in the movie portraying a fantastic Caesar. Serkis work is well knowened. He played Gollum and King Kong but Caesar is on another level since it’s so much more realistic and emotional.
Will Rodman (James Franco), a scientist at biotechnology company Gen-Sys, is testing viral-based drug ALZ-112 on chimpanzees to find a cure for brain ailments such as Alzheimer’s disease. The drug is given to a chimpanzee, Bright Eyes, greatly increasing her intelligence, but she is forced from her cage, goes on a rampage, and is killed. Will’s boss Steven Jacobs (David Oyelowo) terminates the project and orders chimp handler Robert Franklin (Tyler Labine) to euthanize the chimps. After doing as ordered, Franklin discovers that Bright Eyes had recently given birth and understands the reason why she was disturbed. He convinces Will to save the baby chimp’s life by taking him home temporarily. Will’s father Charles (John Lithgow), who is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, names the chimp “Caesar”. Will learns that Caesar (Andy Serkis) has inherited his mother’s high intelligence (the 112 virus passing to him in utero) and decides to raise him, working from home and observing his behavior in hopes that he can get the project restarted. Three years later, Will introduces Caesar to the redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument. Meanwhile, with Charles’ condition rapidly deteriorating, Will treats him with ALZ-112 and he is restored to better-than-original cognitive ability.
After five more years and upon seeing a dog on a leash like his own, Caesar (now an adolescent) openly questions his identity and Will tells him of his origins. Meanwhile, Charles’s dementia returns as he has become resistant to the ALZ-112. Caesar witnesses a confrontation between confused Charles and neighbor Douglas Hunsiker (David Hewlett) and attacks Hunsiker. Caesar is then placed in a primate shelter where he is treated cruelly by the other chimps and the chief guard, Dodge Landon (Tom Felton). Caesar learns how to unlock his cage, gaining free access to the common area. With the assistance of Buck, a gorilla, he confronts the sanctuary’s alpha chimp and claims that position.
Jacobs clears development of a more powerful, gaseous version of the viral drug (now called ALZ-113) when Will tells him it will not only heal brain disease but also improve intelligence in anyone. Will takes the drug home to try to save his father, but Charles declines and passes away overnight. Franklin is later exposed to the new drug and becomes ill. Attempting to warn Will at his home, he sneezes blood onto Hunsiker and is later discovered dead. Will attempts to reclaim Caesar (after bribing the head of the shelter to release him), but the chimp refuses to go home with him. Instead, he escapes from the facility and returns to Will’s house, where he takes canisters of the ALZ-113.
Returning to the facility, Caesar releases the gas, enhancing the intelligence of the other apes overnight. When Dodge attempts to get him back into his cage, Caesar shocks him by speaking for the first time, yelling “No!”. Caesar then electrocutes the cattle prod-wielding Dodge by spraying him with water, unintentionally killing him. The apes flee the facility, release the remaining apes from Gen-Sys, and free the other apes from the San Francisco Zoo.
A battle ensues as the ape army fight their way past a police blockade on the Golden Gate Bridge to escape into the redwood forest. Buck sacrifices himself to save Caesar by jumping into the helicopter in which Jacobs is riding. The helicopter crashes onto the bridge, trapping Jacobs in the wreckage. Jacobs is then killed by Koba, an elder ape who had been a test subject all his life. As the apes find their way into the forest, Will arrives and warns Caesar that the humans will hunt them down, and begs him to return home. In response, Caesar hugs him and says that “Caesar is home.” Will, realizing that this is indeed their last farewell, respects Caesar’s wishes.
During the credits, Hunsiker (having been infected by Franklin) leaves his house for work as an airline pilot, arriving at San Francisco International Airport for his flight to Paris. His nose begins to drip blood onto the floor. A graphic traces the spread of the humanity-killing virus to Europe and then around the globe via international airline flight routes.
The movie has a lot of great moments like when Caesar says “No” or when he is left in the sanctuary. All those moments work because of some of the best CGI effects I’ve ever seen. All the apes are incredibly realistic and the work done by Serkis and the other actors who did the motion-capture is fantastic.
James Franco as Dr. William “Will” Rodman, a scientist who is trying to discover a cure for his father’s Alzheimer’s disease by testing ALZ-112 on chimps. He is a father figure to Caesar.
Freida Pinto as Caroline Aranha, a primatologist who starts a relationship with Will and grows attached to Caesar.
John Lithgow as Charles Rodman, Will’s Alzheimer’s-afflicted father and a former music teacher who improves after Will gives him the ALZ-112 and forms a strong bond with Caesar.
Brian Cox as John Landon, manager of the San Bruno Primate Shelter where Caesar is confined for a time. His full name is a reference to one of the astronauts in the original Planet of the Apes.
Tom Felton as Dodge Landon, John’s son and an animal caretaker at the shelter, who enjoys treating the apes cruelly. His first and last name are references to two of the astronauts in the original Planet of the Apes.
David Oyelowo as Steven Jacobs, Will’s greedy boss. His last name is a reference to Arthur P. Jacobs, the producer of the original Planet of the Apes series.
Tyler Labine as Robert Franklin, a chimp handler at Gen-Sys and one of Will’s friends.
Jamie Harris as Rodney, a caretaker and a nightwatchman who is much kinder to the apes at the sanctuary and is regularly victimized by Dodge for this.
David Hewlett as Douglas Hunsiker, Will’s hot headed neighbor.
Chelah Horsdal as Irena, a nurse who is looking after Charles.
Andy Serkis as Caesar, a common chimpanzee whose intelligence is increased from inheriting ALZ-112 from his mother during her pregnancy, and who is raised by Will for eight years. He leads an ape revolution against humanity. The character is based on Caesar from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes of the original series.
Karin Konoval as Maurice, a Bornean orangutan who was retired from the circus and knows sign language; he becomes Caesar’s closest ally. His name is a reference to Maurice Evans, who played orangutan Dr. Zaius in the original Planet of the Apes (1968). Konoval also cameos as the court clerk whom Will briefly argues with about his appeal.
Terry Notary as Rocket, the dominant chimpanzee at the ape sanctuary, until Caesar overthrows him. His name references the set decorator of Planet of the Apes, Norman Rockett. Also as Bright Eyes, Caesar’s mother who was captured in Africa. Her name is the nickname given to Charlton Heston’s human character by Zira in the 1968 film.
Richard Ridings as Buck, a western lowland gorilla who pledges his allegiance to Caesar after he is freed by him. His name is a reference to Buck Kartalian, who played the gorilla Julius in the 1968 film and the gorilla Frank in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.
Devyn Dalton as Cornelia, a female chimpanzee in the ape sanctuary. Her name is based on that of Cornelius, played by Roddy McDowall in the original Planet of the Apes.
Jay Caputo as Alpha, the dominant male chimpanzee of Bright Eyes’ troop and Caesar’s father.
Christopher Gordon as Koba, a scarred bonobo who has spent most of his life in laboratories and holds a grudge against humans. He is named Koba after an alias often used by Joseph Stalin.