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I Bet You Didn't See... The Rise of, Dawn of and War for the Planet of the Apes


We're looking here at the modern, revamp of the Planet of the Apes franchise. After Tim Burton's flop of a remake in 2001, Instead of remaking the 1968 classic, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver wrote that the rise of the Ape civilisation comes alongside the downfall of our civilisation. I like that. I found that that makes the story more understandable and more interesting.

In the original, humans travel through space and time and crash on a planet controlled by intelligent Apes and humans are nothing more than wild creatures (who still wear clothes). Being from 1968, the acting is campy in places, the prosthesis and make up are incredible and everything is still neat and appropriate where it needs to be.

The franchise ran on. And on. And on and on. And on. Yes, FIVE films were made from 1968's original to 1973's Battle for the Planet of the Apes. We could be on for another one of these now.

I'm not going to go through them all. It's not worth it. But here is my opinion on the modern three, starring Andy Serkis as Caesar.

What was brilliant about this series was all the little references to the original films that are scattered through. Almost all are twisted around, like the very beginning of Rise we see apes being poached, which reflects the humans being hunted and poached by the apes in the original. Caesar is doused with a hose, like Charlton Heston. Koba's hate for the humans and their behaviour is a mirror of Heston's hatred for the Apes.

Nova and Maurice

But you also get the references like "Nova" in War. She plays the mute girl Maurice insists the Apes protect. This is taken from the mute woman Heston tries to save in the original. Many of Caesar's family names are the same as in Conquest and Battle. And we cannot forget that immortal line...

Take your stinkin' paws off me, you damn dirty ape!

This is no longer just Heston's line. Tom Felton delivered it with a renewed hatred and anger, but for very different reasons.

Caesar (Andy Serkis)

Rise tells us how the Apes became intelligent. They rise up and leave humans in San Francisco to live in their own settlement in the forests outside the city. We are introduced to Caesar, a Chimpanzee experimented on with a drug intended to help sufferers of Alzheimer's disease. It increases the Chimp's intelligence and his mind's evolution.

Koba (Toby Kebbell) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke)

Dawn is the first of the warring films. "Simian flu" has started to kill off humans, and while humans and Apes are keeping their distance, humans are in need of electrical power which can only be gained from a hydro-electric plant in the Ape's territory. Part of this film shows Koba's hatred for man splitting the Ape's into two factions.

The Apes evolve throughout the franchise

War is the continuation of the war on the Apes by man led by an individual whose daughter died of the simian flu. Caesar also leads the Apes to a safer area where they can settle again and restart their new civilisation.

The Apes are really well made with motion capture animation, and the scenes with massive numbers of apes are done well enough to not look too badly animated. You know what I mean? It's much harder to spot the fully CGI scenes, unlike in The Matrix series (1999-2021), where Neo bends too smoothly and his clothes don't flow quite right. I didn't feel that here.

I'm a bit apprehensive about the forthcoming Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (2024). The trailer looks like they are heading back to the original story-line, with the Apes now the dominant species and talking fully. I will see it. I kind of have to now!

Serkis and extras in their motion capture outfits, next to the final finish

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by: Rupert Wyatt

Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver

Based on: "Planet of the Apes" by Pierre Boulle

Starring: James Franco, Freida Pinto, Andy Serkis, Brian Cox, John Lithgow, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo

Released: August 5, 2011

My Rating: 7/10

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Written by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Mark Bomback

Based on: "Planet of the Apes" by Pierre Boulle, Characters by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver

Starring: Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman

Released: June 26, 2014

My Rating: 7/10

War for the Planet of the Apes

Directed by: Matt Reeves

Written by: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves

Based on: "Planet of the Apes" by Pierre Boulle, Characters by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver

Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn

Released: July 10, 2017

My Rating: 8/10

The fourth episode is expected in May 2024

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