Rise of the Planet of the Apes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
What in the world was Fox thinking by greenlighting a prequel to a film that’s over 43 years old? Well, apparently they knew there was more story to be told about the film that’s spawned four sequels and a remake/reboot by Tim Burton in 2001. Although I had never thought about it until I read RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES was getting made, it’s true that we never really learn how the whole thing started. Well, if you ever wondered how the apes managed to take over the world, then you’re in luck, because Rise is a fun, exciting film that breathes life into a franchise that was previously dead.
Will Rodman (James Franco) is a scientist obsessed with finding a cure for Alzheimer, mainly because his father (John Lithgow) suffers from the debilitating disease and he wants to bring him back to his former self. He works for a genetic research company called Gen-sys and he’s testing his current drug on a handful of chimpanzees. When something goes wrong, the head of the company orders that all the chimps be put down. But Rodman ends up keeping a baby chimp whose mother was injected with the drug. At this point, you can probably guess where it’s going. The chimp grows up to be smart but eventually gets taken from Rodman and when forced to live with other chimps, he (known as Caesar), manages to steal the drug and give it to more chimps. I’ll tread lightly on plot points from this point, because the rest would be considered a spoiler.
What was surprising about the film is how much they made you care about Caesar. This is partly due to the acting of Andy Serkis and partly due to how carefully the story was set up. It was also surprising to see how unbiased the film was towards the eventual rise of the apes. I expected to come out of the theater hating the apes or hating the humans, but they managed to weave an intelligent story that although far-fetched, was actually believable.
Director Rupert Wyatt did fall victim to a few cliches, most notably the over the top villainy from the animal keeper Dodge (Tom Felton, who can’t seem to escape the overly evil roles) and the overly sentimental moments between Rodman and his father. But at the end of the day, this was about the apes and Wyatt managed to develop characters for some of the apes that rivaled their human counterparts. We cared about Caesar, but we also cared about the orangutan and the gorilla, just as we would about humans put in similar situations.
RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES didn’t tread any new ground, but for a prequel to a film that was released 43 years ago, it did quite well in reinvigorating the idea of apes taking over the planet. Although I’m surprised to say this myself, the ending left it open to tell even more stories before the original and I found myself excited to see where the series is going.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: After more than 120 4K UHD reviews, it’s clear we’re starting to see a trend when it comes to 4K releases coinciding with theatrical sequels. RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES didn’t have a spectacular Blu-ray release in terms of audio and video and it feels like this was taken from the same source material. If you look closely enough, you’ll find the normal uptick in detail, especially when it comes to brightly lit daytime scenes, but the CGI leaves a lot to be desired. You can make the argument that at times, Caesar looked a little fake (reminding me of the rubbery Spider-Man from the original Sam Raimi film) and that’s amplified a bit on 4K. That tends to be the drawback of the new format, which is that for better or worse, everything is going to be more noticeable. For those on the fence of the upgrade, let me be clear by saying this is an improvement over the Blu-ray, but it might be for fans only.
Audio: The included DTS track is the same one found on the Blu-ray, which is disappointing.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which you can read by clicking RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES Blu-ray Review.