Australian Council on Children and the Media

Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The

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Not suitable under 10, not recommended 10-12, PG to 15 (Themes, violence and disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The
  • a review of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 2 August 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 10-12 Not recommended due to violence and disturbing scenes
Children aged 12-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, violence and disturbing scenes.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Violence
Length 105 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is promoted as “an origin story”, telling how apes through genetic manipulation rise up and become the dominant species on Earth.

In present day San Francisco, genetic scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) has developed an experimental virus ALZ-112 designed to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Will is desperate to find a cure for his father Charles (John Lithgow). At GenSys genetics laboratories Will has been administering ALZ-112 to a female chimpanzee with positive results until she attacks her handlers and is shot by security guards. Afterwards, Will finds a new born chimpanzee in the dead mother’s cage and takes the baby home, believing it will only be for a short period of time.

Three years later the young male chimpanzee named Caesar (Andy Serkis) is functioning on the level of an eight-year-old human, having apparently inherited his mother’s modified genes. Disaster strikes when Caesar is placed in an animal shelter for primates run by a shady man named John Landon (Brian Cox) and his cruel son Dodge (Tom Felton). As a result of being tormented and mistreated in the shelter, Caesar turns his back on humanity, communicates with other apes and begins to plan his escape.

Caesar escapes and steals several canisters of the new and improved, ALZ-113, which he then releases back at the primate shelter while the other apes are sleeping. They wake in the morning with heightened consciousness and intelligence, ready to take on their human handlers and the rest of humanity.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Genetic engineering, animal experimentation and testing; cruelty to animals

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes contains sequences of battle-like violence, intense action violence and destruction, and some violence inflicted against animals. Examples include:

  • In a laboratory setting, a chimpanzee seizes and nearly breaks the arm of an animal handler then goes on a rampage, smashing windows, overturning tables, scaring and threatening people.  The chimpanzee is eventually shot several times by a security guard.
  • A heated argument between Will’s father and a neighbour involves the neighbour shouting at Will’s father and poking him in the chest with his finger. Caesar, who is watching the argument from an upstairs room, believes Will’s father to be in danger and attacks the neighbour, pummelling the neighbour with his fists, and kicking him over a banister rail. Caesar then jumps on the man pins him down and bites his finger. We see the man with a bloody hand and Caesar with some blood on his mouth.   
  • At the primate shelter, an ape attacks Caesar, biting him on the arm (no blood depicted). A guard shoots both apes with a tranquilizer gun and they fall unconscious.
  • We see a dead man on a bed, having died from a viral infection. He is lying face down and we see blood pooled on the side of his head and dripping from his hand.
  • Caesar punches an animal handler in the face, knocking him unconscious then drags the unconscious man along the floor and places him in one of the cages.  
  • When the apes rebel and take over the animal shelter, we see one ape dragging a man over a fence and then pummelling the man with his fists until Caesar intervenes. In the same scene an animal handler threatens the apes with an electric baton. Caesar blasts the man with a jet of high pressure water from a fire hose, causing the shock baton to short circuit and electrocuing the man.
  • During an extended battle scene involving the apes rising up and rebelling against the humans, we see large scale mayhem with spear-wielding rampaging apes causing mass destruction throughout the city.
  • Police use their batons to beat apes over the head. An ape uses his fists to pummel a policeman but Caesar stops the ape from killing the man. We also see Caesar prevent other apes from killing more men during the battle. A large group of apes overpower a large group of policemen, and then disarm the policemen without harming them.
  • A policeman shoots and kills an ape and another ape kills the policeman by hurling him from the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • A man in a helicopter wielding a machinegun in a frenzied manner shoots and kills a large number of apes before an ape hurls itself at the helicopter causing the helicopter to crash into the Golden Gate Bridge.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of fiveincluding the following:

  • Native hunters herd a large group of frightened chimpanzees into traps and then cage them.
  • Caesar is restrained by a wire noose on a pole around his neck.
  • When Caesar is forcefully taken to a shelter for primates and placed in a cage he becomes extremely distressed and agitated, charging at the door of his cage and beating on the door with his hands. Following Caesar’s outburst all of the apes in the shelter become aggressive, banging on their cage doors and screeching loudly.
  • A handler at the primate shelter tortures Caesar by blasting him with a powerful stream of high pressured water. Afterwards, we see Caesar lying in the foetal position on the floor of his cage. In another incident, the same handler repeatedly shocks Caesar with an electric baton.
  • In a laboratory, we see an ape strapped to an operating table with a mask placed over its face. When the gas is turned on the ape begins to convulse violently on the table. 
  • A quick gruesome image of a burnt and bloody dead man lying on a floor as the result of electrocution.
  • During an extended battle scene, Caesar holds an injured and dying ape in his arms as it dies: there are several gunshot wounds on the ape’s chest.     

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

The film contains no nudity, but does contain a brief scene depicting  sexual activity:

  • Will and a woman lie on the ground entwined in each other’s arms while kissing passionately.  

Use of substances

The film contains some substance use. For example:

  • Will injects his father with the ALZ-112 virus.
  • An ape is forcefully gassed
  • In one scene, a young man brings a small group of adults into the animal shelter to show them the apes. One member of the group is holding a six pack of beer and hands out bottles to the others members of the group; no alcohol is seen to be consumed.  

Coarse language

The film contains infrequent coarse language, name calling and putdowns. For example:

  • O my god, what the hell, god damn, lazy baboon, that’s bullshit, morons, what the F…; (only the letter F is sounded, but the implication is clear).

In a nutshell

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a science fiction action thriller targeting an older adolescent and adult audience. It is a cautionary tale that explores the dangers of genetic manipulation and experimentation, blending scientific fact and fiction. The film’s realistic apes, produced with performance capture techniques, are the real stars of the film.

The main message from this movie is that genetic experimentation can be extremely dangerous and unpredictable and may have catastrophic consequences.     

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Respect for all life: Caesar was very protective of those he loved willing to defend then physically if needed. On a number of occasions, Caesar displays a respect for life and compassion by preventing other apes from killing humans. 

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