Rise of the Planet of the Apes Review (2011)

I was listening to a podcast this morning. They were discussing the odds of intelligent civilizations existing on other worlds in the universe. The odds, it seems, are so low, it’s guessed that intelligent civilizations probably don’t exist. We only know of one world that harbors self-aware intelligent civilization: our own world.

From the initial formation of our planet in the birth of our solar system, it took life about 500 million years to begin to form on our world. That would have been four billion years ago. For 3.5 billion years, life has existed on Earth that can be traced through the fossil record. Our species, with other hominids/apes, only recently geologically speaking, arose on the planet.

Six million years ago, give or take a million, our most ancient ape-like ancestors began to diverge from our more chimp and apelike cousins.

Our species is nearly 100,000 to 200,000 years old. Around 70,000 years ago, the Toba supervolcano erupted and put the global climate into a decade long ice age. Our species almost went extinct.

Nearly 30,000 years ago, the majority of humans lived in Africa. In essence, all of humanity are Africans.

That being said, humans have only had roots of civilization for about 10-11,000 years.

The printing press is only a recent phenomenon. It was developed in 1436 by Johannes Gutenberg.

The odds of an intelligent species organizing itself into a civilization is extremely rare, even on Earth. We’ve had civilization for so long, we have no memory of what life was like before it. Humans take civilization as a given.

Which begs one question, why us?

Watching Rise of the Planet of the Apes had me ask that question. Rise is a prequel to The Planet of the Apes, which was release in 1968. A year before man landed on the moon. The current movie, and the original each warn that our civilization can disappear.

The movie is not a warning as its predecessor was. It’s a movie that looks into what it means to be human.

The star of the movie is a chimp named Caesar. He’s mostly a CGI chimp, but played so well by the antics of Andy Serkis, one begins to feel sympathy and perhaps empathy for the ape. The ape has complex feelings, thoughts, and is capable of comprehending things on a human level.

It’s well played, has action, and in a sense sets itself up for a sequel. (I hate to be cyncial, but I smell a remake of Planet of the Apes could be in the works.)

Overall, it was a good movie. It was better than some of the later Apes movies, but not as good as the original. It was, in a sense, a different movie than the original. Unlike it’s predecessor, it doesn’t leave much to contemplate. The original Apes movie ended on a note that has you wonder just how insane we humans are. The new movie ends on a note that says we just going to go out with dumb luck.

All that being said, the Apes movies should serve as a warning and a sign of hope. We should be wary that we can give in to our base fearful and aggressive behavior, but we have the opportunity to transcend out apelike heritage through compassion, wisdom, and understanding. We control our own destiny at this point. Our fear and ignorance can and eventually will destroy us. Our knowledge, wisdom, and compassion are our saving graces.

When I think of the militaristic gorillas in the original, I can’t help but think of small minded politicians in our own society. They fail to heed the words of the scientists and wise council of our more intelligent humans on Earth. Intelligent civilization may be extremely rare in the universe. As such, we humans should take that knowledge to heart and strive to make this planet the best we can for life on Earth. However, we seem to be hellbound to destroy ourselves for petty reasons.

Maybe we could learn something from the apes in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. If we create society where we take care of our own, we can survive for the long haul.

The original film served as a warning. The current film takes us into the heart of an ape. Both are good. I think the original was better.

I give Rise of the Planet of the Apes 3.5 thrown tires out of five.


The population numbers of the great apes is still declining. I would not be surprised if we heard the news of chimps and apes going extinct by the middle of this century. The primary cause of their demise is loss of habitation. As we humans grow in numbers, we take space away from them, and many other kinds of animals.

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One Response to Rise of the Planet of the Apes Review (2011)

  1. Vello says:

    Unfortunately, estimates of the possibility of intelligent life anywhere else other than here fail due to the lack of statistical basis to build said assumptions. Specifically- you can’t make a valid argument on the statistical example of 1. We only know of one world with life on it, only one in which that life is moderately intelligent (and that species tends to think it is smarter than it is).

    The absence of evidence of other intelligent species in the universe is often cited as evidence of their absence– but of course, that’s a false argument.

    The point being is that we have no idea how common or uncommon intelligent life is- and as we’ve only been technologically capable of even looking for intelligent life in the last 50ish years (development of the radio telescope) and ability to find extrasolar planets in the last 10-20- makes me think that we haven’t been at it long enough to have any idea.

    Heck- lack of evidence for others on Earth doesn’t even hold up under much scrutiny. Arguably we share the planet with a couple of intelligent species at the moment: ceteceans, fellow apes, and elephants. Only we will leave any signs of our intelligence, and none of them will last a few billion years. Could there have been an intelligent species in our past of which we don’t know? Definitely if one counts non technological species. But humans have been around for only a million years (counting human precursors). Dinosaurs died out 60 million years ago and existed in an epoch stretching millions of years. An intelligent species with technology could conceivably have existed and all traces of it erased by now. We will never know for certain (unless we find a space capsule on Mars with some little dinosaurian skeletons in it).

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