Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Two-Disc Edition, Blu-ray (2011)

by | Dec 19, 2011 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Two-Disc Edition, Blu-ray (2011)
Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Studio: 20th-Century Fox [12/13/11]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English descriptive audio 5.1, Spanish or French DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Extras: (2nd disc contains both DVD and digital copy for portable media devices), Commentary tracks by director & writers, 11 deleted scenes, “The Genius of Andy Serkis,” Scene breakdown, “A New Generation of Apes,” “Breaking Motion Picture Boundaries,” “The Great Apes,” “Mythology of the Apes,” “Composing the Score with Patrick Doyle,” Character concept art gallery, Theatrical trailers
Length: 105 minutes
Rating: *****
The Planet of the Apes series, based on the stories of Pierre Boulle, has been one of the top movie franchises ever since 1968.  It resulted in four more movies of decreasing quality following the Charlton Heston kiss-off of the human race in the first. Somewhat re-visiting the Conquest of the Planet of the Apes of 1972, The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a needed prequel to the whole depressing story of just how the apes came to get the upper hand on earth. Time called it the best action movie of the year, and it might be.
The advanced CGI of today makes possible a more impressive action film than the previous efforts could ever hope for.  The most amazing thing about the movie is probably the combination of Andy Serkis playing the wild motions and fascinating facial emotions, combined with the CGI process which made him a most believable Caesar – the super-smart chimp who started the whole thing. The clever plot line is that Franco is a scientist working at a big lab trying to create a cure for Alzheimer’s. They experiment with it by administering it to some chimps, and the Franco character steals some of it to administer to his father who has serious Alzheimer’s.
When Caesar’s mother goes wild to try to protect her baby and is killed, the scientist takes the baby home to care for and names him Caesar. The effects of the drug were transferred to Caesar and he proves to be a super-intelligent chimp. Later the original good effect of the formula on humans is found to eventually reverse, and the scientist’s assistant even dies of being exposed to it. Meanwhile Caesar attacks a neighbor in order to protect the Alzheimer’s-afflicted father and is carted off to a caged Primate Center. At first depressed and hopeless at being imprisoned, he soon figures out how to get the cooperation of all the other apes there, steals more of the drug to make the other apes intelligent too, and eventually they break out for a rampage thru downtown San Francisco and across the Golden Gate Bridge.  The climactic scene on the bridge with the simian army against the police is quite remarkable. One cannot help but root for the apes, though we realize by the end of the film that this is the beginning of the end of the human race.
The Blu-ray transfer looks terrific and the surround sound is put to good use in many of the action scenes. The many extras are an interesting trip, especially for Planet of the Apes fans. The location of the Primate Center is not San Bruno, as its sign states, but the top of Mt. Sutro above San Francisco, where I once worked at a radio station with studios in the old mansion there, and from where a gigantic shared antenna now looms over the city.
—John Sunier

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