Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Movie Review
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The apes and primates look perfectly real – and very, very angry – in 20th Century Fox’s new prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes. A reboot of the whole Planet of the Apes scenario that started in 1968, the new movie is much, much better than Tim Burton’s boring remake of the 1968 Charlton Heston and Rod Serling classic, Planet of the Apes. Like that classic movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes still has some humanist conceits – specifically, that animals can attain souls like that of human beings, who are “made in God’s image” () – but it has no humanist references to evolution or humanist attacks on religion. However, it does encourage viewers to cheer for the apes escaping their human handlers and obtaining their freedom.
The movie opens with Will, a scientist in San Francisco, testing a special virus on a female chimpanzee. Will hopes the virus will be a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, including his elderly father’s sickness. Will’s tests on the female chimp are going very well. In fact, the virus also seems to be enhancing the female’s own intelligence.
So, Will decides to give a presentation to some rich potential investors. The presentation is interrupted, however, when the female chimp, Bright Eyes, gets extremely upset, escapes and causes havoc. Will’s boss orders Bright Eyes be put to sleep, along with all the other apes in the experiment. Soon afterwards, however, Will discovers that the female chimp was upset because she thought Will’s assistant was trying to hurt her unborn baby. The assistant manages to secretly deliver the baby before the mother is killed. He convinces Will to take the baby male chimp home until the assistant can find a good ape sanctuary for it. Will names the baby chimp Caesar. (To read the full movie plot explanation, go to www.movieguide.org. Caution: the linked page contains spoilers!).
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is brilliantly directed and acted. James Franco plays Will, John Lithgow plays Will’s father and Andy Serkis (Gollum in Lord of the Rings) gives another magnificent motion capture performance as Caesar. So, this movie should definitely pack some theaters here and overseas.
There are solid positive elements in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Will, the main scientist in the movie, is a very kind and compassionate man. Although the abuse he suffers makes him very angry, Caesar stops his fellow apes from taking their anger out on the police who want to kill him.
That said, one of the apes abused by Will’s boss during the new experiments eventually takes revenge on him. Also, the movie has some strong foul language, scary intense violence and Romantic notions about the “noble savage” who can be redeemed by human means.
Finally, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has a humanist worldview that posits the naturalistic, environmentalist canard that apes, the highest mammals on land (not counting humans), can gain a real human-like soul simply by biological means. This humanist belief, of course, contradictsand 2:7, which says that God has only made man “in the image of God” and given man “the spirit (or breath) of life.”
However, the movie’s humanist worldview is not strong or overtly anti-religious, unlike the first Planet of the Apes movie. Also unlike the first movie, MOVIEGUIDE® heard or saw no positive references to evolution. In addition, the movie promotes compassion, mercy, and freedom. All in all, therefore, the very entertaining Rise of the Planet of the Apes deserves a caution for pre-adolescents because of its intense moments, scary and realistic-looking creatures, and foul language.
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine. For more information from a Christian perspective, order the latest Movieguide Magazine by calling 1-800-899-6684(MOVI) or visit our website at www.movieguide.org. Movieguide is dedicated to redeeming the values of Hollywood by informing parents about today's movies and entertainment and by showing media executives and artists that family-friendly and even Christian-friendly movies do best at the box office year in and year out. Movieguide now offers an online subscription to its magazine version, at www.movieguide.org. The magazine, which comes out 25 times a year, contains many informative articles and reviews that help parents train their children to be media-wise consumers.
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