Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray Review)

Just what the world needs…another reboot of a legendary franchise.   That was exactly my sentiments when I learned about the production of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  I remember watching and enjoying the original films as a kid, but not enough to warrant my full attention to what was going on behind the scenes of this new production.   I still cant get the bad taste of the Mark Walhberg adventure out of my mouth.  Then one day I had not one, but several friends asking me if I caught the new trailer of Rise of the Planet of the Apes.   Astonishingly, all of their recounts and tales had one thing in common.   They all included the word bada$$.  How could they all be wrong?   So I reluctantly caved in and gave it a watch.   And much to my surprise I thought…not bad!  But that didn’t mean I became an instant fanboy overnight.  Quite the opposite happened. I became even more guarded, opinionated and weary about this film’s direction and for some reason I couldn’t wait for its theatrical release so I could proclaim to everyone I was right.   I like being right.   That’s what needy people are most known for.  Little did I know, I was an a$$hole because I couldn’t had been more wrong.   But that happens to the best of us, right?


The 2011 science fiction drama film was directed by Rupert Wyatt and stars James Franco, Andy Serkis, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton and the reason you should all check this one out…the beautiful Freida Pinto.   I’m kidding about the last part.   Or am I?  Rise of the Planet of the Apes is, I guess what you could say, a reboot of the ever-popular Planet of the Apes series.  The film’s sole purpose from what I’m being told, besides to make money, is to act as a foundation or an origin story for a brand new franchise.   Yeah…I can definitely see that one happening.  Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver penned the screenplay.  If you are a fan of the original franchise, then you will appreciate the many nods and tributes the writers brought attention to with certain scenes, characters and even a spacecraft named Icarus.

So I mentioned above that I couldn’t have been more wrong about Rise of the Apes (referred to as ROTPOTA hereafter).  And God!  I love it when I’m wrong in these kind of ways as opposed to other bad scenarios that I care not to go into intimate detail about here.  ROTPOTA has everything and more a 37-year old boy like me could ever ask for.  It has action.  It has adventure.  It has drama.  It has passion.  But most importantly, it has heart.  That’s where, in my opinion, ROTPOTA excels.   It’s the high level of emotional stakes achieved here that won me over during my first theatrical viewing and had me on the edge of my seat ready to weep like a baby should anybody harm my beloved Caesar.   The movie gave me goose bumps.   It gave me chills.   And it gave me the power to realize hey…maybe my screenplay at home isn’t really up to snuff.   Let’s go home and work on it.  Needless to say, ROTPOTA is my favorite film of 2011 and I can confidently say nothing is going to change that even though we still have two plus more weeks left in the year.  I don’t care.  First place goes to ROTPOTA.

It’s weird when you think, unless you are Gerard Iribe and have his ultra violent tastes, how could a movie about apes taking over the human race be both emotionally satisfying and heartfelt at the same time?  Well thankfully, that’s an easy question to answer.   The solution is really comprised of two essential ingredients…a brilliant screenplay and the Oscar-worthy performance of Andy Serkis as Caesar.   If you thought onscreen emotions transferred well with Cameron’s CG-captured performances in Avatar, you haven’t seen anything yet.   Kudos to the guys at WETA Workshop.  Wait until you get a look at the emotional story arc of Caesar.   He may not be the ideal role model for your kiddies, but I hardly doubt you will find yourself wishing any ill harm against the big lovable guy.

It’s hard to believe that a scientist’s desperate search to find a cure for Alzheimer’s ultimately led to the destruction of mankind, but stranger things have happened before, right?  James Franco plays a scientist who believes he has found the aforementioned cure.   John Lithgow portrays his Alzheimer’s stricken father.  The beautiful, and I stress that word beautiful, Freida Pinto is Franco’s love interest and conveniently, she also specializes in the care of chimps.  Together, the trio make up the core human ensemble, but this is the story of Caesar, remember?  Caesar comes into the picture when his infant self is discovered after a dozen other laboratory chimps are mistakenly put down after what was thought to be an awry/failed demonstration of Will’s experimental drug.  Franco’s character, Will, takes Caesar home to live and interact with his father and him.   Little does Will know that Caesar was genetically passed, through his mother, the Alzheimer’s cure he was working on.  The genetically engineered chimp shows very early signs of heightened intelligence.  He learns and develops quickly.  Realizing this, Will decides to illegally test the compound on a human subject…his father.  The results were astounding.   Overnight, Will’s father was himself again, cured of the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease.  Life seemed perfect.  Will has the girl.   He has the monkey.   And he has his father back again.  What more can a guy ask for?  Remember ladies and gentlemen…this is a movie.  Bam!  The sh!t quickly hits the fan, so to speak.

Caesar gets into trouble.  Big trouble!   Come on Will!  You didn’t seriously think you could keep that chimp securely safe and harbored in suburbia, did you?   Stupid boy.   Trix are for wabbits!  In what could be described as one of the most painful scenes to watch, simply because I own and love my black Ford Mustang GT, we see John Lithgow destroy his neighbor’s black Stang.   Why?  It’s because he has developed an immunity to Will’s Alzheimer’s cure and reverted back to his old state when we first met him in Act One.  That sucks!   But it sucks even worse for poor Caesar.  In an effort to protect Will’s father from the understandably upset Mustang-owning neighbor, Caesar bites off the dude’s finger.  It’s bye-bye time for Caesar as he is forced to live in the San Bruno Primate Sanctuary ran by Brian Cox’s character and interact with other primates absent of his human owner, Will, and his beautiful (did I mention Freida’s beauty yet?) girlfriend.  This is where ROTPOTA truly arcs.  It’s here, smack dab in the middle of Act Two, that Caesar realizes who he is and becomes the leader he was destined to be, leading the bridge revolt that people will forever talk about in San Francisco and around the world.  And oh yeah, this is all caused again by you guessed it…a new cure Will worked on in efforts to combat the immunity his father developed from the first miracle drug.  This time it’s worse.  The cure’s not a cure.  It’s a virus!  Beware people!  The apes are rising.

And for the record, I might be the only reviewer out there not criticizing the human interactions/performances throughout the picture.  To be completely honest, I was just fine with Franco’s chops.  I do agree that Pinto really served no purpose other than a pretty face, but all in all, this is a movie about Caesar.  And a damn good one!  Let’s not lose sight of that people.  I will repeat this once again in hopes that it sinks in.  Caesar is the main character of our story here.


Twentieth Century Fox brings ROTPOTA to the Blu-ray format with a menacing MPEG-4 AVC codec presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1.  And it’s pretty damn near perfect.  The textures are out of this world, from the individual strands of hair to the delicate caress of Freida’s perfect skin.  Detail and sharpness rule this one.  One would think with such a CGI spectacular like this summer blockbuster is that you could expect to find lots of soft shots masking WETA’s wild creations.  Thankfully, that’s not the case at all.  There are a few soft moments here and there, and you really have to look for them, but for the most part…it’s reference!  Colors are all vibrant and boisterous.  Black levels look incredibly deep and inky.   Everything is in check here and I love it so.  What a better way to celebrate my number one film of the year with a kick a$$, ape-approved Blu-ray transfer.  Thank you Fox for the early Christmas gift!


Fox hits another homer with ROTPOTA in the Blu-ray audio department.  They further tug on my heartstrings with this aggressive dynamically wild DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.  Everything is just P-E-R-F-E-C-T here.  Apes swing and scream all around you.  Cop cars crash and burn.  Glass shatters.  Bullets spray.  Explosions resonate with a big bombastic boom.  LOL.  You get the picture.  Like its big brother, King Kong, this track just roars above the competition as it delivers a reference-like audio experience.  You’d be hard pressed to ask for more or want anything else here.  The DTS-HD surround track excels on all levels.  And oh yeah, before I forget, the dialogue is clean and pristine.  Bonus!  You can also find an English Dolby Digital 5.1 descriptive track, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs and optional English and Spanish subtitles.

Special Features  

Like the colossal video and audio presentations described above, I think everyone will be quite satisfied in the Special Features department too.  However, instead of me speculating whether or not you will like them, why don’t we just stop wasting time and dive right into them.  Ready or not, I’m moving on!

  • Audio Commentaries – The Blu-ray disc features a total of two audio commentaries.  How do you like those apples?  First up is a track by Director Rupert Wyatt.  He discusses all the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes business that goes deep into how the movie was produced.  Next up, writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver discuss everything you would expect a pair of writers to chat about…the S-T-O-R-Y.
  • Deleted Scenes (12:00, HD) – There are a total of 12 deleted scenes as listed below.  None of them contain finished animation.
    • Alpha Gets Shot
    • Will’s Meeting with Lab Assistants
    • Will Discovers Caesar Has Solved Puzzles
    • Caesar Plays with Bicycle
    • Caesar Questions his Identity
    • Caesar Bites Off Neighbor’s Finger
    • Will Ignores the Risks of an Airborne Mutated Virus
    • Rodney Gives Caesar a Cookie
    • Rocket Gets Hosed by Dodge
    • Caesar Destroys the Lab and Koba’s Attempted Revenge on Jacobs
    • Caesar Pushes Helicopter
    • Koba with Shotgun
  • Mythology of the Apes (7:11, HD) –  The filmmakers discuss the original series and how this one relates/pays respect to them.
  • Studying the Genius of Andy Serkis (7:48, HD) – What else did you think this feature was?  This is everything Andy Serkis and how he has changed the world of motion capture technology forever.
  • Scene Breakdown (1:34, HD) – Although this one is quick, you can use your buttons on your remote to toggle between different views in a particular scene.
  • A New Generation of Apes (9:41, HD) – Here we get an inside look at how technology brought Caesar to life.
  • Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries (8:43, HD) – Probably in one of the most spectacular scenes of the movie, this featurette showcases the making of the Gold Gate Bridge finale.  Love it!
  • Composing the Score with Patrick Doyle (8:07, HD) – Mr. Doyle talks about composing the film, sound design and whatnot.
  • The Great Apes (22:37, HD)– This so-called tour contains mini-documentaries and 3-D renderings of chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.
  • Character Concept Art Gallery (HD) – This one features what else…concepts of the apes.
  • Theatrical Trailers (HD) – Included are trailers for Machine Gun Preacher, Immortals, Another Earth, There Be Dragons and more.
  • DVD/Digital Copy (SD) – There’s a second disc in this set that solely contains the DVD presentation of the film and a Digital Copy.  Yea for iDevices!
  • BD-Live

Final Thoughts  

Really?  What’s not to like/love here?  With a 5-point movie (on my scale…the only one that matters in this review because it’s mine), luscious video, engaging audio and a Special Features department that will keep fans busy for several hours (with the commentary tracks), I ask you again.  What’s not to like/love here?   You shouldn’t even be reading this anymore.  You should be clicking the Amazon link below and bringing Caesar and all his furry friends home to your house for the holidays.   And oh yeah…don’t forget about the beautiful Freida Pinto either.  She’s a bonus!  Rest assured, she comes with the package here.  It’s a packaged deal.  So what more can you ask for?  I’m getting sick of asking you that.  It’s now your time to rise.  Bring home Rise of the Planet of the Apes on Blu-ray in time for the holidays.  What a perfect gift for all your loved ones!  Buy in bulk!  Merry Christmas!


7 Responses to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Lauren Winston

    Ahhh. so good. However I think the trailers for the film were awful. The one that they showed at Comic-con were the ones that really captured the essence of the film. They need to pay attention to that but alas I saw the film and enjoyed it.

  2. Aaron Neuwirth

    Can’t wait to check out the extras on this disc (but lame that we dont get the alternate ending).

    Personally, I was on board with the trailers from the outset and was happy the film did not disappoint.

    As far as the humans go, It’s not that anyone is particularly bad acting-wise, there’s just that much to any of them. They’re all just stock characters (greedy business man, evil habitat employee, angry neighbor, pretty doctor). The counter is that this was intentional, since the Apes are the characters that needed the most development, while the humans were supposed to be 2 dimensional, but that feels like a cop out. I enjoyed it all the same (it’s a very good movie), it just has a flaw, most likely sacrificed for pacing.

  3. Gerard Iribe

    I’ll rent this.

  4. Justin Boros


    This was by far my favorite movie of 2011. You summed it up perfectly. I dont like cheese in movies and this had none. We also watched the Blu-Ray and this is my #1 Blu-Ray as well. I cant remember the last movie Ive seen that is this interesting, believable, passionate and has heart and just a phenomenal movie. Along with the best CGI and effects Ive ever seen. Great write up.

  5. Brian White

    @Gerard…BOO x Infinity!

    @Aaron and Lauren…Thanks for your thoughtful feedback! I appreciate it! I can agree to disagree on the trailer. I thought the second trailer sold me on it more than the first, but I agree…the footage at Comic-Con was so worth it! I can again agree to disagree on the human element. I guess it just did not bother me like it did others. I was there for Caesar. It was his story.

  6. Gregg

    Brilliant movie. I’d rate the extras a little higher because they had some great content and were in high def. Awesome, awesome film.

  7. Sean Ferguson

    I’m looking forward to this movie!